I have always been a fan of natural and organic ingredients, especially since my hair starting thinning and falling out after I switched to a vegetarian diet, “Natural” doesn’t always mean “beneficial,” so it’s important to know what natural products work and what don’t. Dolce Mia, an internationally-renowned beauty company based in Sonoma, California, is a perfect choice for those who look for natural ingredients with a flare. Their Luxe Hair Shampoo and Conditioner ($18, amazon.com) offers marshmallow roots, lavender, and clover, among others, to fortify your hair against external damage while leaving it soft as silk. Plus, they come in petite bottles with vintage-inspired patterns. Unfortunately, this definitely didn’t work for my fine hair.
Lavender Extract : Soothes Your Mind and Hair
If you have ever passed through the aroma therapy section of the your local candle store, you know that lavender is renowned for having soothing effects on the mind. Separate studies carried out in the United Kindgom and Scotland found that individuals were much more calmed, content, and in generally better moods. Brain scans at the University of Miami found that patients’ brain waves exhibited drowsiness and calm when exposed to lavender (Psychology Today). So, if you find yourself to be a high stress person or just need something to calm you down, the scent of lavender wafting from your hair may just do the trick.
Lavender does a lot more than soothing your soul — it has been shown to reverse hair loss for some people. Researchers at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary had 43 alopecia patients use lavender-containing treatments for seven months. After the trial period, 19 of the 43 patients reported markedly reduced hair loss, whereas only six of the 41 control-group patients had reduced alopecia (Hay, Jamieson, Ormerod).
Lavender is also believed to be a great healing agent against eczema, though there is still little research regarding lavender use for hair and skin (University of Maryland Medical Center). There has been some fear of lavender because of a study Henley, Lipson et al. linked this extract breast development (gynecomastia) in young males, but it was very small and certainly not proven without a doubt. A bigger concern for users should be the potential for irritation.
Marshmallow Root: Keeping Things Together
There isn’t too much scientific research about using marshmallow in cosmetics. What we do know about marshmallow extract is that when combined with water, it produces something called mucilage. As the name suggests, mucilage is a type of filmy mucus that coats whatever it is applied to — hence it’s a very popular skin and throat-soothing agent (University of Maryland Medical Center). The mucilage may act to bind hair together and give the appearance of thicker, fuller locks, though it’s doubtful that it will actually thicken them.
On the plus side, the mucilage is known to be a soothing agent, so it’s good if you have dry scalp, easily irritated skin, or sunburn on your head (Lahey Hospital and Medical Center).
As we said before there are very few studies for cosmetically-used marshmallow extract. Though there are no known side effects, don’t expect the marshmallow to do much other than pulling frizzy and flyaway hairs together for a fuller look.
Comfrey: Good for Skin Smoothing
Contained within the leaves of the bushy comfrey plant is allantoin, a chemical compound that is renowned for its skin-smoothing properties. Allantoin works to retain moisture in the extracellular matrix (a.k.a. all of your skin cells connected together), making it more stable, firm, and keeps connective tissue healthy. Plus, it loosens the layers of dead skin cells that clog the pores, allowing newer cells to proliferate — great news for those of us with crows’ feet or acne (The Examiner).
There is very little technical literature about comfrey and hair care; however, it is reasonable to assume that comfrey works to stimulate the scalp, relieving it of dead skin so that existing follicles stay healthy while clearing room for new follicles to grow.
Red Clover: More Research Necessary
The pretty fascia-colored clover plant is found on virtually ever continent, and is popularly used in herbal medicines for everything from soothing skin to promoting hair growth. While many of these claims have little or no scientific evidence to defend them, there may be a bit of truth in red clover’s alleged hair-enhancing properties.
Red clover contains something called isoflavone, which is a phytoestrogen that mimics the common female hormone estrogen. When ingested, estrogen has been shown to extend hair’s growth (anagen) cycle, though this claim is still undergoing more research (Hindawi Obsterics and Gynecology International). And, of course, it’s important to consider the side effects of estrogen usage and how this might affect users (University of Maryland Medical Center)..
Panthenol: Hair’s Best Friend
Panthenol sounds like any old ingredient in a shampoo or conditioner, but it actually may be responsible from turning your hair from lank and dreary to full and thick. A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that a mixture it was included in increased hair thickness by about 10%. Similarly, it strengthened hair against physical strain — good if you pull your hair back tightly in hair bands, in rigid styles, or fill it with products — and made it more soft to the touch.
As if panthenol wasn’t great already, its works as a super moisturizer. Panthenol acts as a humectant, which means that it not only retains moisture in your skin but also pulls it from your surrounding environment. Plus, it relieves irritation from dry skin (Dr. Heather Brannon – About.com).
Personal Use and Experience
Dolce Mia’s conditioner fragrance offered a very soothing, pleasant scent at first, but after a few hours it becomes very pungent and overwhelming. The next day I tried out a different shampoo that had a very pleasing minty scent, and I could still smell Dolce Mia’s conditioner very clearly on my hair. Don’t misunderstand; the smell itself was very pretty, but as with all things in excess, it became tiresome after awhile.
For the best results, you may want to use the conditioner on the tips of your hair, rather than closer to the scalp. Make sure to thoroughly rinse out your comb, too (if you comb the conditioner into your hair, like me) or else it will retain the smell.
When rinsing out my hair I could feel the marshmallow extract making my hairs stick together, making it feel much thicker than it really is. Things felt completely different after my hair had dried, however. Despite my best efforts at rinsing out all residue from my locks, the conditioner weighed down my hair so that lost it most of its volume, especially at the roots.
Also, this product reminded me of what it feels like to not wash your hair regularly– greasy and as if my hair was gluing itself to my scalp. My hair normally is only a little bit frizzy, but it was especially flyaway at the lips after using the Dulce Mia Luxe conditioner.
At the end of the it all, my hair did look and feel thicker, though I doubt that my hair actually increased its diameter at all.
Dolce Mia’s Luxe Conditioner offers to strengthen and soften hair using mostly-natural ingredients. However, “natural” and “organic” do not always equate with a product’s efficacy.
(Check out FutureDerm’s article on natural ingredients that aren’t all that good for you). This product will make your hair feel thicker after first applying it, but it’s very likely to make your hair feel oily, lank, and cause flyaways a few hours later.
While the pretty fragrances may have been this conditioner’s saving grace, the odors were far too pungent throughout the day to do little else than to give the wearer (and those around her) mild headaches. It would seem that Dolce Mia tried to mix too many pretty smells together, and ended up with something smelling like old flowers.
So would I recommend it? Yes, but only for people who have very thick hair— fine-haired folks like myself will end up with lank strands and a greasy scalp. Make sure to use only a dime-sized portion