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Give Your Hair An Oil Change — Try New Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Moisture Intense Oil Crème Pre-Shampoo Treatment, Shampoo, and Deep Conditioner

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For years, I’ve had an often tumultuous, passionate, and volatile relationship……with my hair! Admittedly, I don’t recall my hair ever being particularly cooperative, not even as a child, but it’s definitely developed more of an attitude as time has elapsed — perhaps as a rebellious demonstration against my many “experiments” (my 15+ years of hair dyeing and highlights, my many hairstyles involving teasing and backcombing strands somewhat aggressively, those uncooperative and tangle-prone hair elastics, etc.). I take full responsibility for having mistreated my hair for years at a time but, for the past five years or so, I’ve worked hard to heal any damage I’ve caused. First, by finding an ultra-talented colorist who doesn’t rely on harsh chemicals (big shout-out to David Stanko!). Second, by washing my hair less often (I did, for years, wash my hair on a daily basis, which really dried out my strands). Third, by investing in sulfate- and paraben-free products enriched with hydrating, conditioning, and healing ingredients like argan oil, keratin, shea butter, Brazil nut oil, sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, and so on. Fourth, by not brushing my hair excessively and always using styling products that offer heat protection before blow-drying or flat ironing my hair. And fifth, by treating my mane to a deep conditioning treatment once a week. Still, despite all my efforts, my hair still has a mind of its own: yes, my hair color is beautiful (thanks, David!), but my strands are often dry, porous, and prone to frizz.

So how do I avoid looking like the perpetually disheveled Blanca on Orange Is The New Black? Well, being extremely discerning — and by that I mean annoyingly selective and persnickety — about my hair care products definitely helps. Those of you who, like me, grapple with extremely dry hair know how frustrating it can be to shampoo strands and have them become a knotty mess during the lathering process and then, in turn, to attempt to apply conditioner to this tangled web without somehow tugging at hairs. Well, if you want to make that hideous experience a distant memory, try the Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Moisture Intense Oil Crème Shampoo ($32 at Sephora.com and Ulta.com). This amazing, spectacular, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious shampoo has completely changed my life — well, at least my hair-washing life!

This paraben- and sulfate-free cleanser has an oil base so that, as with any facial cleansing oil, in order to create an emulsion, you need to apply to damp skin. In this case, you would squeeze out some drops of shampoo onto the wet palms of your hands, then rubbing your hands together to create the desired emulsion and transform the formula from an oil to a cream. Once you do so, you can then proceed to smooth the shampoo onto damp strands, massaging the product onto your scalp and working it through the top of the head, along the mid-lengths and down to the ends. Now, in order for the shampoo to really work its magic, your hair should be damp but not soaking wet, and you should really take your time massaging the product in, avoiding standing under your shower head until you are prepared to rinse off the product.

If you follow these steps, you’ll notice that the shampoo effectively removes dirt and product built-up from your mane without stripping it of any essential oils. And guess what? Your strands are unlikely to get tangled while you shampoo since the formula gives hairs the right amount of slip. The color-safe shampoo features: abyssinian oil, which is rich in omega-9 fatty acids that lock moisture into strands and also soften hair and boost shine; avocado and olive oils, both of which moisturize, condition, and boost luster; Seasilk, a blend of marine botanicals that helps to repair damaged strands; caviar extract, which contains amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids that help to smooth the hair shaft, preventing frizz and fly-aways; sunflower seed oil, which is rich in vitamin E and prevents hair color from becoming dull and lackluster; and a blend of zinc, copper, and silk amino acids that not only fortify strands but help hair fibers better absorb nutrients.

Now, like Ben Higgins (aka The Bachelor), I said “I love you”  to two different entities in the same period of time: first, to the shampoo, and then second, to the Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Moisture Intense Oil Crème Deep Conditioner ($32 at Sephora.com and Ulta.com). And, like Higgins, I can’t imagine living without either of them but, luckily, I don’t have to choose between them! Ha!

The conditioner feels so rich and decadent that it’s an absolute treat. You can apply the conditioner directly onto strands but do take the time to really massage it onto strands. I’ve noticed that the conditioner works its best when I first dab it onto the palms of my hands and then smooth my palms onto my hair, taking small sections of hair and gliding my conditioner-covered hands down them (almost as if my palms were the plates of a flat iron sliding from roots to ends). Also, you need to leave the product on for a solid five minutes to let those nutrients hydrate and soften your mane. Once you rinse and dry your hair, you’ll notice a dramatic difference in terms of how soft and shiny your strands appear. Over time, the results become all the more visible as hair becomes bouncier, silkier, smoother, and more lustrous.

The conditioner contains the same essential ingredients as the shampoo but these are married with hydrating  cocoa butter, conditioning panthenol, and potent humectants like glycerin and sodium hyaluroneate.

I’d give both of these the final rose any day — and, hey, it’s my party so they can share the rose!

But wait: this already convoluted love story isn’t quite over yet! One thing that makes this collection unique (and formidable) is the incorporation of a pre-cleansing treatment. Say what? Yes, a product you apply before your shampoo. Why do you need this? Well, if your hair is really dry (like mine), you sometimes need a hydration boost before you can even cleanse your strands. Think of it as a step akin to warming up the engine of a car.

Within the framework, you apply the Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Moisture Intense Oil Crème Pre-Shampoo Treatment ($35 at Sephora.com and Ulta.com) onto your dry mane. First, however, you’d dispense the product onto wet hands and create an emulsion by rubbing your hands together (as you did with the shampoo). But, whereas you apply the shampoo to damp strands, the pre-shampoo treatment should be applied to dry strands. Got it? Dry. As in NOT wet. Once you’ve smoothed product all over your head, you should leave it in for 5-15 minutes (I recommend at least 10 minutes) before rinsing. After rinsing, you can then proceed with the shampoo and conditioner.

What makes the Pre-Shampoo Treatment necessary? Well, it repels the minerals naturally present in water to prevent build-up while binding the hydrating ingredients in the conditioners to strands, therefore making the moisturizing process more effective. The Pre-Shampoo again includes abyssinian oil, avocado and olive oils, caviar extract, and marine botanicals, but it also incorporates shea butter, keratin, hydrolyzed keratin, and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins. The shea butter, of course, nourishes strands immediately while the keratin helps to rebuild strands, filling in those spaces in porous hair.

Once you use the Pre-Shampoo Treatment alongside the other two products, you’ll notice how their performance is enhanced.

And just like that, you’ll find yourself saying those three little words to three different products, beating Ben the Bachelor at his own game. Hey, these hair savers are down to be Sister Wives (or Brother Husbands!).

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