Regular readers know that I am an advocate of well formulated, well priced products. I think there are great products in all price ranges and at all retail channels.
Last night I was invited to view a brand new hair care category from Garnier, arriving in retail stores this month.
Garnier Whole Blends has been in development since 2010 and is now arriving to the Canadian market. Released as Ultra Doux, in France, this collection of products is the best selling shampoo and conditioner range in that country; I suspect due to the high quality of the ingredients and the very affordable price point.
Garnier Whole Blends is proof that great quality does not have to equal super expensive:
1. Professional salon formulations. Most people don't realize that Garnier is the second largest brand owned by L'Oréal. L'Oréal is renowned for salon hair care and treatments, leading the industry with innovation and technology. With that pedigree Garnier has access to some of the best formulators working in the industry. A quick comparison, of the ingredients, shows the formulas are as well made as expesive salon products.
2. Paraben free - this is a direct response to consumer demand and, it is not at all the norm for mass market shampoos and conditioners to be paraben free - usually these types of formulas are more expensive and harder to find.
3. Natural Moisturizing Factors and Antioxidants - this is the most important part of this range - truly what sets it apart: instead of relying on heavy silicones and waxes, as the the moisturizing agents, Garnier has opted to use naturally sourced, intense NMFs and Antioxidant ingredients. These types of ingredients are normally found, at these concentrations, in much more expensive products. In fact, the NMFs and Antioxidants are much more than just label claim ingredients (meaning they would be less than 1% of the formula). Garnier has used the various ingredients in the top 50% of the formula, providing high grade actives at an amazingly low price point.
Look at the list and compare to high priced salon products - all of these ingredients are high grade extracts found in expensive hair care at the same concentrations as Whole Blends:
1. Fragrance: I am not a fan of fragrance in cosmetics - fragrance never increases the performance of a product it is included only to make a product smell pretty. Fragrances are also the number one sensitizing agent in cosmetics. Garnier is a French company and fragrances in cosmetics are very popular in France. As a reworked, North American version of a popular French product, the removal of fragrances would have made more sense. With so many work and public spaces now being scent free cosmetics companies need to start making more fragrance free options.
2. Packaging - While this may not be an issue for everyone it was for me - the packaging is a little cumbersome to use and takes up a lot of space. Tubes would have been a better choice and are certainly easier to use in the shower. I have big hands and even I dropped the oversized bottle in the shower.
3. Confusion of choice - there are six Whole Blends formulas to choose from.
Three are very clear and easy to understand:
a) Colour Care - if you have processed hair this is for you
b) Refreshing - if you require scalp stimulation (think dry scalp) this is for you
c) Nourishing - if you have dry, damaged hair this is for you
Three are not as clear and seem to overlap in their use:
d) Smoothing - tames and controls
e) Hydrating - quenches and softens
f) Repairing - heals and protects
These all seem to do the same task to me - maybe just one version instead of three very similar versions would have made it more clear for consumers.
Overall - well worth the money. At the concentration levels of the extracts, pedigree of Garnier and the direct comparison to expensive salon brands this range will deliver high grade results on a budget.
Full disclosure: While I was an invited guest at the Garnier Whole Blends launch party I have not received any compensation to review these products. The review is based on my own knowledge of hair care, cosmetics formulations, cosmetics ingredients and the cosmetics industry. I am never paid, or provided anything other than products samples for the purposes of evaluation, in exchange for product reviews.