For about the past week or so, everyone has been making a big hoopla about the formula changes to everyone's beloved super cheap, curly girl-friendly conditioner, Trader Joe's Nourish Spa. Folks were angry. Some ran to their nearest Trader Joe's to clean out the remaining old formula from the shelves, and created a home-stockpile to prepare for the worst. I even saw on another blogger's Instagram a recommendation for starting a petition to switch back to the old formula -- before even giving the new formula a shot.
Sometimes, naturals do too much. (I had to get that out, I've been holding it in for too long)
Before I go on a mini-rant about how folks need to simmer down sometimes, here's the old label:
And the new one:
In case you can't see the ingredients or don't have the time to analyze the distinctions, here are the two lists compared (the changed ingredients are highlighted in red):
Old Nourish Spa Formula: purified water, organic rosemary extract, organic valencia orange citrus, organic mango, organic lemongrass, organic ginko biloba, organic echinacea, organic willowbark, organic sea kelp, organic chamomille flower, organic textured soy protein, organic lavender, organic grapefruit citrus, tocopherol (Vitamin E), acetamide MEA, cetyl alcohol, citric acid, methylparaben, polyparaben, botanical fragrance.
New Nourish Spa Formula (scientific names of extracts removed for ease of reading): purified water, cetyl alcohol, behentrimonium chloride, citric acid, tocopherol (Vitamin E), dimethicone, argan oil, organic rosemary extract, organic valencia orange citrus, organic mango, organic lemongrass, organic ginko biloba, organic echinacea, organic willowbark, organic sea kelp, organic chamomille flower, organic textured soy protein, organic lavender, organic grapefruit citrus, tocopherol (Vitamin E), acetamide MEA, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, fragrance.
The natural hair community has been up in arms over these formula changes, and this blogger thinks it's a classic case of much ado about nothing. Let me explain the reasons why *I* believe the formula changes don't matter as much as everyone thinks they do:
1. The Botanical Extracts Are the Same -- Just Moved.
Word for word, all of the botanical extracts are in the same cluster as they appear on the old label. The only major switch is that they appear after the ingredients that compose the conditioner base. I don't personally believe the concentrations are different; I'm moreso of the mindset that Trader Joe's changed where the extracts were listed as a move for compliance with the FDA Cosmetic Labeling Regulations. According to the FDA,
The ingredients must be listed in descending order of predominance. However, there are a few exceptions to this requirement.
Nourish Spa Conditioner's botanicals fall under the second exception:
Ingredients present at a concentration not exceeding 1% may be listed in any order after the listing of the ingredients present at more than 1% in descending order of predominance. [§ 701.3(f)(2)]
So basically, the botanicals have always been present at a concentration of less than 1%. The label has just been adjusted to reflect that.
2. Behentrimonium Chloride and Argan Oil are GOOD.
Behentrimonium Chloride is a quaternary ammonium compound (cleaning and conditioning agent) and close cousin of cetrimonium chloride. It penetrates the hair, conditions, and acts as an anti-static and anti-microbial agent. It is derived from the oilseed turnip, and as a plant-based compound it is great for detangling, softening, and more. Argan oil is touted as an omega-rich miracle oil that can help quell frizz, repair damage, nourish the hair, and banish brittleness and dryness. And they added argan oil without adding to the price! See? Nothing wrong here.
3. The Paraben Preservatives are GONE.
Being distracted by the flurry of botanical extracts, most fans of Nourish Spa turned a blind eye to the fact that paraben preservatives were also on the old ingredient list -- myself included. For those not aware, parabens are preservatives used in cosmetics to prevent microbes from forming and helps to stabilize products for a longer shelf life. The problem with parabens? They're easily absorbed into the bloodstream by the skin and aren't metabolized. In fact, parabens are a highly prevalent element of (statistically) 19 out of 20 breast cancer biopsies. There is no proven link that parabens are carcinogenic, but there is concern that they interrupt endochrine/hormone function in women, and lead to reproductive toxicity. The parabens in the old formula have been replaced with a milder, non-paraben preservative (phenoxyethanol), and potassium sorbate, which is a food-grade level preservative. Nothing to be up in arms about over here, folks!
But...There is One Thing.
This wouldn't be an honest assessment without bringing up one potential downer: silicones. I'm not personally cosigning on this one as a red flag, because 'cones don't bother me. Some of my favorite products have silicones in them. But for some ladies who may be on a strict curly girl regimen, this can be a total downer.
Dimethicone is present in the new formula, and it is a popular cosmetic silicone. Silicones work by coating the hair in a thin, semi-permeable or waterproof layer that reduces the porosity of hair, and makes it less likely to absorb humidity (great for straightening and smoothing hair). It reduces moisture loss within the hair, and lubricates the surface of the hair and makes it easier to comb (slip and less tangled). All of these benefits, while being lightweight and not causing buildup! The obvious downside is that silicones like dimethicone are synthetic. However, they are generally recognized as safe for human skin and hair. Unfortunately, dimethicone is not water-soluble. This doesn't mean that you can't cowash with the new formula, just that you'll have to become more diligent about clarifying or using shampoo at least once a month to avoid buildup (which you should be doing anyway). Besides, the new formula of Nourish Spa isn't silicone-based...it just contains a silicone as the 5th ingredient after water. It's present, but not enough to cause super-duper alarm.
Trust me: I tried out the new formula.
As far as everything goes, here's my take on the new Nourish Spa Conditioner formula:
Price: Still $2.99. Take note, companies that add argan or other oils to their products and jack up the price :)
|Look at that shine! No filter, no flash!|
Performance: This is where the rubber meets the road. Based on my experience (I've had many a bottle of Nourish Spa in my day as a transitioner and being natural), I actually like the new formula better. It has more slip, and helped me work through my tangled 7 day wash and go with ease. The smoothness and feel of my hair was the same afterwards, which means that it still preserves the same functionality that many naturals have come to love over the years. One super, ultra, mega difference I noticed right off the bat? SHINE. Lots, and lots, and lots, of shine. Between the argan oil and dimethicone, some serious shine business is coming out of that bottle.
So to Trader Joe's I say -- Great job! Thank you for making an already awesome product even more awesome without gouging my wallet.
To my fellow transitioners and naturalistas I say -- All change ain't bad. Unless you're a die-hard CGer, the changes won't ruin your regimen.
That's my assessment! Have you tried the new formula? Share your thoughts in the comments!