It's been a while since I had a guest-reviewer on board (why yes, MrL, that is a hint!), so I thought I'd let Sarah take over for the day today. She's been raving about this shampoo range for a little while, and her she is spreading the joy:
Given that Smith is (allegedly) one of the commonest surnames in the English-speaking world, hairdressers called Smith are particularly rare. Maybe they're told, after they've spent their first day sweeping away cuttings, making tea and learning to make small talk about holidays: "Sorry lovey, but Smith just doesn't say 'Stylist' to me. You'll need to get married or do something drastic to the spelling, my love. Maybe add an extra letter?"
Tara Smith is a brave exception. You can imagine her tossing her perfectly-formed mane defiantly as she folded the towels and vowing that one day, she too would be a vibrant, innovative and respected Stylist to the Stars and yet stay true to her roots and stay a Smith. With an "i". Twelvty years later she has snipped and demiwaved her way to the glittering salons of Hollywood, and now she is ready to join the ranks of the Sassoons and the Friedas with her own range of organic, cruelty-free, locally-produced haircare products. And I bet no-one calls her Smitty...
So, on to the review:
The main attraction for me was the absence of foaming and stuff like parabens, sodium laureth sulphate and something called phthalates. The blurb on the back says "Tested on Film Stars, not Animals" - but it doesn't say which film stars were strapped into a harness and had shampoo dripped into their eyeballs, but I enjoyed making a list of potential testees.
Smith gets extra brownie points for natural, earth-friendly ingredients and local manufacture (well, Sussex is fairly local...).
Her products also carry certification from the Vegan Society. The shampoo contains five yeast extracts and extract of bamboo, plus tea-tree oil and mint. The conditioner has something called Squalane which is derived from avocado and olive oil. Combined with more yeast extracts and marine algae, the conditioner claims to provide with essential minerals and bind moisture to the hair shaft. Both shampoo and conditioners come in circular 250ml bottles that fit very nicely on the edge of the bath.
To use the shampoo, rub a good-sized squidge into wet hair and leave in for a few minutes. The shampoo is suitably rich-textured and smells deliciously minty, like an After Eight. After about 30 seconds your scalp begins to tingle slightly. This, apparently, is the shampoo At Work, according to the label. With no parabens or foaming agents, there isn't much in the way of lather, but it rinses out easily anyway. The label recommends a second shampoo, but I don't think that makes much of a difference, other than more bubbles the second time around.
Squeeze-dry your hair and apply the conditioner in the usual way. The conditioner felt quite light, compared with similar products, but it smelled utterly delicious and worked easily into the hair, leaving no icky residue on your hands. Again, you feel the minty tingle after a few seconds. Rinse out the conditioner after leaving it in for five minutes and style as usual.
After the wash and condition my usually coarse, wiry (greying) hair actually felt quite silky. This doesn't usually happen unless I've applied half a tonne of Kiehls conditioning treatment and slept with my head in a plastic bag. To be on the safe side, I applied a small dollop of Tara Smith's base coat primer before blow-drying and tonging the hair into some semblance of normality. The primer helps to protect the hair from heat treatments, and it comes with a clever little all-in-one squishy pump. One pump is all you need for shortish hair with the texture and manageability of a moody Brillo pad.
So, given it's completely organic, vegan and made by magical elves in leafy Sussex, you'd expect the price to be something ridiculous, but no. Cult Beauty sells this shampoo and conditioner for a paltry £5.50 each. The primer costs £6.50 for 50ml. Half a bottle does for three months of twice-weekly washes on fairly short, thirsty hair, which means you can be green and gorgeous, and have a bit of change for that lovely All For Eve lippie...