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More Argan Magic — Revive Hair with Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo and Conditioner

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Even those with only a cursory knowledge of the beauty industry have, by now, heard of argan oil and, moreover, of the brand that made this buzzed-about ingredient as recognizable a term in the pop culture lexicon as “macarons,” “planking,” and “bromance”: Moroccanoil. After enchanting every wavy- and curly-haired gal of every ethnicity with its groundbreaking Moroccanoil Treatment, the brand has expanded its array of haircare offerings to include a full product line, first by introducing styling wonders like the Moroccanoil Glimmer Shine Spray (which I listed in 2010 as a summer hair must-have), the Moroccanoil Intense Curl Cream, and the Moroccanoil Curl Defining Mousse, and then growing from there to introduce various shampoo and conditioner options, all aimed at moisturizing, softening, and nourishing hair. Given my obsession with Moroccanoil products, I knew I had to get my hands on one of their shampoos and conditioners, so I could see how these performed. And so, about six weeks ago, I began using the Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo ($22.80 at Moroccanoil.com) and Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Conditioner ($21.80 at Moroccanoil.com). To say I’ve been floored by the results would be a massive understatement. These products are simply amazing, delivering an immediate hydration boost while also fortifying hair strands from within and strengthening the cuticle, which serves as the hair’s protective barrier.

Ideal for women with dry and damaged hair, the Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo ($21.80 at Moroccanoil.com) comes in a teal blue bottle (which, I might add, makes it ultra easy to differentiate from its conditioner counterpart, which is packaged in a white bottle). As with any Moroccanoil product, at the formula’s core is argan oil, which contains up to 80% unsaturated fatty acids — mainly oleic acid, linoleic acid, andpalmitic acid — and which also has a high concentration of tocopherols, chemical compounds with vitamin E activity; squalene, one of the most common lipids produced by human skin cells; and carotenes that deliver antioxidant protection. Argan oil, then, moisturizes strands, protects them from thermal styling and from environmental aggressors (including UV rays), softens hair, boosts shine, tames frizz, and even stimulates hair growth. But the shampoo contains other great botanical ingredients like avocado extract, which softens, hydrates and conditions strands thanks to its high concentration of fatty acids, folic acid, protein and vitamins A, B, D, and E; jojoba seed extract, which has a similar molecular composition to that of the sebum, allowing it to easily penetrate the cuticle and scalp, and which is known to work as a humectant and to boost shine; lavender extract, which has long been used to treat conditions ranging from dry scalp to alopecia; panthenol or vitamin B5, a common conditioning agent; chamomile extract, which contains flavonoids that have anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties and which stimulate blood flow and cellular regeneration; and hydrolyzed keratin and keratin amino acids that help to reduce hair breakage.

Now, in recent years, any talk of haircare products has referenced, in one way or another, whether these items contained sulfates, harsh detergents that can strip away the hair’s moisture and color and which could potentially function as carcinogens. But these discussions have led to some confusion as to exactly what ingredients should make consumers raise their eyebrows if spotted on product labels. For example, the acronym SLS is often used when referring to the most problematic ingredient: sodium lauryl sulfate which is, in fact, a detergent responsible for all those sudsy bubbles and that foaming effect produced by so many soaps and shampoos but which has also been at the center of much controversy due to its icky side effects (drying out strands, causing frizz, making color fade, and so forth). But, here’s the tricky part: many ingredients that are perfectly safe (even covetable) could also have the acronym SLS. For instance, there’s sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, an ionic surfectant derived from sarcosine (itself a natural amino acid found in muscles and other body tissues) and used as a foaming agent. There has been no toxicity associated with sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, making this ingredient perfectly safe for use in cosmetics and hygiene products. Then there’s  sodium lauroyl lactylate, a salt derived from the natural lauric acid ester of lactyl acetate, found in either milk or coconut oil. This substance penetrates the skin easily, delivers residual hydration, and even boasts anti-microbial properties. Yet another example is sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, perhaps the most misunderstood ingredient since it’s so close in name to the actual culprit (sodium lauryl sulfate). The former, however, couldn’t be further from sodium lauryl sulfate — in fact, sodium lauryl solfoacetate is perfectly natural, derived from coconut and/or palm oil. It’s commonly used as a mild foaming agent and it effectively removes dirt and kills bacteria — plus, because it’s hydrophillic (attracted to water), it’s easy to rinse off, making it a great addition to any shampoo formula.

The Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo, then, contains many of these SLS ingredients but, lucky for all of us, they’re the good kind of SLS: sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, sodium lauroyl lactylate, and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate. Yes, folks, the chemical terminology can be confusing but the bottom line is that this shampoo contains surfectants and foaming agents that yield that delightful sudsy effect we love to get when massaging a shampoo while in the shower, but without any of the harsh detergents that eventually harm hair.

I love that the shampoo removes any excess oil, dirt, and grime, while also making hair perfectly manageable — even before you apply the conditioner. I also love that it doesn’t leave hair feeling dehydrated or, conversely, greasy and heavy.

But, of course, the hair washing routine is never complete until the conditioner is applied — and, gals, the Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Conditioner ($21.80 at Moroccanoil.com) is an absolute winner. As soon as you apply the conditioner to damp and clean strands, you’ll notice how your hair seems to suck up the moisture, how the strands almost seem plumper and smoother. It’s easy to work the conditioner into your hair since it seems to detangle strands rather easily so that even women with thin or damaged hair need not worry about tugging at tangled strands while in the shower and causing or even exacerbating any breakage. Once you step out of the shower and dry your hair, meanwhile, you’ll notice it feels bouncy and revitalized. It’s the haircare equivalent of adding air to flat tires!

As with the shampoo, the Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Conditioner’s formula includes argan oil, chamomile extract, jojoba seed oil, avocado oil, lavender extract, rosemary leaf extract, lavender extract,  hydrolized keratin, and keratin amino acids. But these ingredients are married with silk amino acids, which have a low molecular weight that allows them to better penetrate the hair cuticle and cortex; hydrolyzed vegetable proteins; castor oil, which has Omega-6 fatty acids that stimulate hair growth, help to prevent hair breakage, and improve strands’ ability to retain moisture; and a guar gum derivative that conditions and softens hair.

Thanks to the antioxidants, vitamins, proteins, minerals, fatty acids, keratins, amino acids, flavonoids and lipids in the formula, this conditioner effectively hydrates strands, works to repair any existing damage, softens strands, boosts shine, increases elasticity and boosts body and volume — all without weighing hair down or leaving it feeling greasy or tacky.

What’s not to love?

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