review: Curelle hair stuff

curelle riche conditionerThe promised six-week trial is over. Time for the verdict. Herewith the review just posted up on MakeupAlley:


  • Overall rating ( 1 = worst, 5 = best ): 5 
  • Price ( 1 = dirt cheap, 5 = expensive ): 2
  • Packaging Quality ( 1 = worst, 5 = best ): 4
    [I’d have given a 5 for a pump and for less toxicity on the back label: keep it simple, stick to strengths and positive qualities, of which there are many!!!]
  • Would you buy this products again?: YES

Probably the best unscented conditioner I’ve used; and indeed one of the best, scented or not. 

A medium-density white cream. Easy to apply. It’s deceptively light, pretty concentrated stuff, perfect on hair that’s fine in strand-diameter, but dense in quantity, and dryish. Zero irritation on surrounding skin: I’ve often had issues with otherwise gorgeous conditioners. No scent at all: great if you’re scent-sensitive, allergic to specific ingredients, or otherwise have to be careful about the generic ingredient “fragrance.” I tried this stuff out a while back and disliked it. I tested it out again, for a proper 6-week period, when spring allergy-season first hit: though (except at its worst) I can still use some scents, things used in the shower are always an issue. The enclosed space, heat, and humidity intensify all scents. Which, with any stuff you’re applying to your head, are right next to your nose anyway.

Application: nothing complicated, just as one would use any conditioner. I usually use tepid water (sensitive skin & scalp), after shampooing and rinsing, wring water out of hair (using hands), apply a blob to the ends then work up the hair. Leave on for 2-5 minutes, while doing the rest of my showering stuff. Rinses out cleanly. I then wrap it up (wavy / 2b hair here, fine but thick, no wringing and rubbing…) for a while, then leave it to air-dry.

Results once dry: Little to no hair loss (or maximum two strands) in the shower: and I’m a shedder. Resistance-testing a wet strand: neither too stretchy (=too little protein) nor breaking (=too little moisture), just right: elastic, strong. Hair is left soft, smooth, shiny. Some bounce. Not dry. Little frizz. I follow up with (usually) a dab of argan oil, all over but especially on frizz-prone curlier areas underneath. UPDATE (2012-04-10): swapping argan oil for coconut oil: as a pre-wash leave-in, and a tiny amount after washing on ends & frizz as needed. Initial results (and co-operation with the HYDRA/RICHE pair) are successful, full report later (as with this, that’ll be in 4-6 weeks).

Can also be used as a leave-in, and as a pre-wash deep condition. I found it fine on the scalp, and I can be eczema-prone there (plus similar irritability to face and neck).

Comparisons with some other unscented hair stuff:
—Avalon Organics Olive & Grapeseed: old formula was decent, new formula less moisturising.
—Curelle’s TRÈSLITE conditioner: lighter than this one, similarly minimalist, but with no protein. I found it was manageable but not as good on my hair, for moisture.
—Desert Essence: OK except for leaving hair heavy and some irritation on the back of my neck
—Earth Science: pretty good, but not as moisturising when used regularly for a longer period, hair looks duller
—Free & Clear / Cliniderm (same stuff): thicker and gloopier, hair takes longer to dry, and the impression both of coating and of dryness.
—Jason: not good, did little to condition hair and irritated skin
—Lavera Neutral Basis: decent; not used in years, due to being hard to find here in Canada, periodically unavailable, and a lot more expensive.
—NatureClean: (Canada) not good; didn’t do much to condition hair.
—Urtekram: good, but not used it in years
—Whole Foods 365: not good; hair left dry and dull, plus irritation to surrounding skin

Cruelty-free. Made in Canada, available here in health-food stores and from (who do allergy stuff). Also available online elsewhere, usually e-tailers specializing in products for allergicky eczematicky etc. folks. Price: around CAD8.00-10.00 for the smaller 250 ml bottle, $15.00-17.00 for the big 500 ml one. The latter is a very good buy.  I don’t recommend their shampoos as strongly: they are very good in terms of gentleness to scalp, and work well if used daily, but need a lot of water before and after (I’d prefer to save water when possible). But if you *need* unscented mild shampoo for scalp/skin issues, they’re definitely worth a try; I’ve found the HYDRA shampoo to be one of the best I’ve used and that are currently still on the market.

INGREDIENTS: Aqua/distilled water; behentrimonium methosulphate (from colza oil); hydrolysed oats/avena sativa; cetearyl alcohol; lonicera japonica.

[end of MUA review]


RICHE… is an exceptionally mild, concentrated conditioner that softens hair, enhances manageability and adds body, bounce and elasticity.  Improves wet combing, detangles.  Essential proteins and amino acids help control hair’s moisture content, self adjusting to relative humidity… reducing frizziness in low, and increasing body in high humidity.

RICHE… is fromulated with plant derived ingredients that do not contain toxins such as nitrosamines, ethylene oxide, propylene glycol, or dioxane.  Ph balanced.


Not reviewed on MUA yet. Price much the same as for the conditioner. In formula, a little like the ENERGÉ but with added sodium coco oat amino acids and hydrolysed oats.

INGREDIENTS: Purified water, decyl polyglucose, sodium coco oat amino acids, sucrose cocoate, hydrolysed oats, xanthan gum, panthenol, lonicera japonica, citric acid.

  • PRO #1: Definitely better on my hair than ENERGÉ, left it less tangled. This is the shampoo that I tested out for a good full period. I found it worked best on really drenched wet hair, and to be followed by another heavy downpour.
  • PRO #2: goodness on surrounding skin (including scalp).
  • PRO #3: Zero hair loss and much less hair breakage, using this in combination with the RICHE conditioner. Hair in good condition: I did the “does your hair snap or stretch when wet” test on a strand, every once in a while, and my hair is in the “happy healthy” category of some elasticity, but nothing crazy.
  • PRO #4: Also works well as an all-over face and body cleanser.
  • PRO #5 (for all their products): sensitive-skin friendly, cruelty-free, environmentally-friendly on biodegradability and sourcing of ingredients, very plant-based, care about consumers, sensible about things like having preservatives and being skin-pH-friendly (i.e. slightly acidic), etc.
  • CON #1: But … I’m sorry, but … compared to other shampoos I’ve used, including other unscented ones and other no-sulfate ones, it simply does not clean my hair as well. All was well for the first two weeks. Differences became noticeable by the end of week three. And cannot be combined with products containing silicones, as it does not wash them out (as evidenced by my trying to do so after a visit to the hairdresser).
    1st COUNTER-CON: On the other hand, I don’t necessarily need to use silicone products in my hair. When in very irritable to seriously eczematic mode, I don’t and indeed use as little as possible all over. And because my hair is thick (= lots of it) but fine (=individual strands are fine), it always takes a bit more washing than coarser and/or less abundant strands.
    2nd COUNTER-CON: At that stage (week 3) I found that washing my hair every day was the best tactic. Weeks 4-6: alternated washing hair every day and every other day. All well. And continues to do so, in the current week (7).
    3rd COUNTER-CON: Even when I have bad eczema flare-ups on my scalp, they’re usually only there for a week max. If they worsen, I go to the doctor. If they start and worsen fast and dramatically, especially with other symptoms of severe dermatitis, I go to the doctor or the ER (I have some skin things where I’m supposed to go straight to hospital just in case. Meh.) So long as this stuff works for a week (or so), that’s great and all I need. I can always use another shampoo for one wash every couple of weeks or so. Next experiment will be doing precisely this, with the Curelle build-up remover treatment (= excuse to test that out).
    *** UPDATE (2012-04-10): 4th COUNTER-CON: cleans out coconut oil (pre-wash treatment), which is no mean feat.
  • CON #2: Most of the cleaning I was doing was thanks to lots of water. And, while where I am we have lots of water, this is an issue: I would rather use less water (and spend less time) in my shower. This worsened between weeks 2 and 3.
    COUNTER-CON: but when washing my hair daily, I wasn’t using that much water. Conclusion: best used every day, then alternating every day and every day or two. Currently (week 7) working fine.
  • AN UNKNOWN: how this will behave with harder water. Our water here is soft…

I’ve also tested out the HYDRA shampoo combined with other conditioners, and the RICHE conditioner combined with other shampoos.

The first experiments were less successful, especially with conditioners containing silicone (Beauty Without Cruelty: mild water-soluble ones that come out with sulfates, and indeed with coco-betaine) and that are denser (Desert Essence coconut). UPDATE (2012-04-10): but note that it does clean out argan oil and coconut oil. This took a second wash, but that’s really not bad at all: I’ve used shampoos that seemed more potent that took three washes to clean out argan oil. (Coconut oil on hair is a new experiment in progress, more on that later on.)

The second experiments were variably successful: for example, the conditioner worked well with Earth Science fragrance-free shampoo and others. I’ve found the same results of skin happiness, hair glossy joy, and no hair breakage or hairs coming out in showers: I conclude that the conditioner is stupendous and a keeper, and the shampoo helps (acting in concert) on scalp/follicle contentment.

For the last while, my scalp’s not been happy with shampoos other than the very mild for more than a couple of washes in a row, and HYDRA and Earth Science’s one are the best so far. Even though the superficial immediate feel-good results aren’t as good as with other (more “normal”) shampoos: scalp health and happiness are, um well, pretty important… and hair looks and feels nice anyway. Especially that conditioner.

  • AND SO: both of them are keepers.
  • Though I’ll also alternate Desert Essence Coconut shampoo, and (see next post) also be using straight-up coconut oil (pre-wash conditioning, conditioning, post-wash extra conditioning).
  • See, the thing is: I like the Curelle stuff, but I feel no need to stick to one brand only. I am one of those fortunate few who don’t suffer from matchy-matchy disorder, I am not a member of a cult, and I have not sold my soul to anyone. And no, I’m not too sure how one differentiates amongst these three.



  • ENERGÉ SHAMPOO: OK, but left my hair in a ratty desiccated state.
    PRO: good on the scalp, again zero irritation. Easily repurposed as a general cleanser.
  • TRÈSLITE CONDITIONER: lighter than RICHE, no protein, decent but not a good as RICHE on my hair. It’s living in the guest bathroom.
  • HAND AND BODY LOTION: good plain no-frills moisturiser; can also be used, depending on individual skin, on face.
  • and a hair gel and a buildup-remover-treatment (not tested)


  • all products would be highly recommended for people with the kinds of skin issues that require unscented minimalist products
  • and probably for people with my kind of skin and with much more serious skin conditions; though, as ever, do consult your doctor
  • NB: yes, I listed CONS too on the HYDRA shampoo—this is a fair, impartial, and I hope balanced review based on continued use over a medium-long period, and testing use in combination with other products—but I conclude that, for my purposes and requirements, the PROS outweigh the CONS.
    Even in week 3 of testing, when I was getting a bit annoyed, I had still decided that I would keep this shampoo in that part of the bathroom cupboard where the eczema, allergy, and general weird irritation products live. Like I said, for an irritable bout that lasts about a week, it’s perfect. But I continued for the full testing period, and decided that, with a few tweaks to use, I would stay with this as my regular shampoo.
  • But but but: caveats remain, depending on your local water, and your own approach to water conservation.
  • I especially recommend the RICHE conditioner: and, indeed, I’d recommend that to people without MCS and suchlike (hey, you could always add scent to it if you want). I consider it to be an excellent conditioner, full stop/period. For me, it’s staying. And I’ve bought a big 500 ml bottle. That’s commitment.

Curelle are also coming out with a BODY WASH on 21 April, which is excellent news. They don’t currently have a website, but information and bloggishness and so on are at their FaceBook page. I’m very glad to see them doing well: becoming more widely available in the USA, and recently (March) in Australia. Good company (as far as I’m aware), good ethics, and managing to combine that with being human-skin-friendly and budget-friendly… not always that easy, but they seem to manage.

Thumbs up, and best wishes to them for future success.


  1. BluBerry

    Did the shampoo cause your one week skin irritation flare up?! I am considering purchasing this shampoo but I have very sensitive skin that is prone to eczema flare ups 😦

      • gingerama

        Adding: the first time I used Curelle stuff (2012 I think?) I had irritation (but not eczema flare-up), but it was an irritable sort of time and I can’t honestly say what it was. I suspected the Japanese Honeysuckle preservative, as it was the only alien ingredient on my skin.

        But I did not test that out fully, properly.

        Also, irritation and irritability and irritants themselves change over time.

        My own principal eczema trigger is stress combined with insufficient sleep. Lethal combination for skin, and much else in general health: digestion, mood, energy levels, immune system, susceptibility to infections, and so on.

        I’ve been using both the Hydra shampoo and Riche conditioner as main regulars for over a year now, and have had neither irritation nor eczema, and indeed no other issues with them. I’ve also used their build-up remover shampoo from time to time, and that seems to help. I’m also using the Hydra shampoo as a face- and body-wash, and for other things too like cleaning out a menstrual cup, hand-washing bras, and bubble-bath.

        The other hair stuff I’ve used (usually when traveling, though also more recently occasionally to use some old stuff up) is the unscented Ballyhoo solid shampoo & conditioner bars.

        If super-hyper-sensitive, I’d also recommend trying the following:
        Free & Clear (the same formula is also in Canada as Cliniderm; some F&C products are available sort of repackaged / or formula used under licence as Cliniderm, ex. these and the basic moisturiser in the tub; more Cliniderm is not F&C though)
        Boots Expert sensitive unscented hair stuff (UK-only, I think)
        possibly Ducray, and A-Derma also do shampoo (both brands are not cruelty-free)
        Earth Science
        Lavera (though of uncertain cruelty-free status, re. Chinese market)
        Neal’s Yard may also still have unscented hair stuff, not checked recently
        plus coal tar shampoos

        But: much will depend on your triggers, and what other skin conditions are involved. For example, the plant-derived ingredients (from oats, coconut, corn, etc.) may be to be avoided with seborrheic dermatitis. To complicate matters, many skin conditions get blanket-diagnosed as eczema when they are other things, and eczema itself is a very broad-spectrum condition… a bit like dyslexia.

        I’d still say that Free & Clear (if in North America) or Elave (if in Europe) would be top choices, for “probably safer” options re. lowest possible risk of irritation, eczema-triggering, and so on… taking into account your own known triggers and doctor recommendations.

        • BluBerry

          Thanks for the advice! I purchased the Hydra shampoo today and hopefully all goes well. I’m going to test it out on my leg first before I put it on my scalp. I have been using Cliniderm (Free & Clear) but it leaves my scalp extremely dry so I’ve been on the hunt for a more hydrating shampoo 😦

        • BluBerry

          How often do you use the curelle products? My skin condition (atopic dermatitis) was recently diagnosed and developed so I was forced to wash my hair everyday due to the severity of my condition and I have only been recently able to manage my condition. I am trying to ease up on washing my hair and I was wondering if the shampoo would be suitable to use every other day.

          • gingerama

            Hi again! I usually wash my hair every day, sometimes every other day (if running late in the morning and it’s raining outside; otherwise hair ends up a frizzball). I do find my scalp and neck are happier, even if in eczema mode, if washed every day. That also means I can wash them lightly, you know, only one wash and not feeling a need to scrub the scalp. You know how it is when skin feels a bit grubby and you’re tempted to scrub at it… And if the scalp and hair are relatively clean (as compared to after two or three days), that means using less shampoo, left on skin for less time, and rinsed out faster and easier.

            With tepid water, not too warm.

            Using little to no products on hair after washing and conditioning is another handy thing, as it means less build-up, less stuff to wash out, and another reason for faster lighter washes.

            But: I don’t have atopic dermatitis. I would strongly recommend consulting with your doctor on how often to wash your hair: your doctor will know both the condition and you best. Hope that helps and good luck.

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