We had such good hair care finds last year (Osmotics FNS, Aubrey Organics and Nutra-Lift to name but a few) that I shouldn't be surprised that the hair gods seem to have forsaken us. After foraging for many weeks now, there has been very little that was noteworthy. Then, when I found Sea-Chi, a natural range of hair care products, I thought my fortunes may be changing.

Sea-Chi majors on something called kombucha. This is tea that has been fermented with a culture that is often referred to as 'mushroom', although it isn't a fungi at all but a colony of bacteria plus some yeast. Kombucha is one of those things that is attributed with almost supernatural health-giving powers, from boosting eyesight to increased energy, to curing gout and gall stones and, of course, boosting hair growth.

One of the difficulties of determining whether kombucha lives up to these claims is that its components vary dependent on what kind of culture was used for the fermenting. There is certainly acetic acid, which provides its antimicrobial activity, and there can be butyric acid, gluconic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, oxalic acid, usnic acid, as well as some B-vitamins, according to a study.

Tea, bacteria and yeast sounds fairly gross to me and, ultimately I wasn't surprised to find that kombucha has been associated with illness (such as jaundice) and even death (source) - getting that mushroom thing right is pretty critical and most of the hazards seem to be the result of someone's home brew. The Mayo Clinic is pretty dismissive about the magic mushroom, saying that "to date, there hasn't been a single human trial reported in a major medical journal". Specifically, I couldn't find any research relating to its effects on hair health.

Looking at Sea-Chi's Tasmanian Lavender Shampoo ($59), I found some nice botanicals, such as antioxidant coltsfoot (also found in the excellent Max Green Alchemy conditioner), chickweed, good for irritated and flakey scalps,  and slippery elm (also in Nutra-Lift), to provide a natural lubricant or alternative to silicones. Not bad, but they are all in the aforementioned, less expensive alternatives.

All in all, $59 seems like a steep price to pay for a fermented tea with a bad safety record - particularly as I don't seem to be able to count on my hair gods to watch over me.

Ingredients in Sea-Chi Tasmanian Lavender Shampoo

Decyl glucose, lauryl glucose, coco polyglucose, Seaweed Extract, Organic Herbal Infusions of Coltsfoot, Chickweed, Nettles, Horsetail, Slippery Elm, Marshmallow Root, Comfrey Root, Calendula Blossoms, Chamomile Flowers, & Oatstraw, Sea Buckthorn CO2, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Kombucha Extract, & Essential Oils of Tasmanian Lavender.