What they don’t mention on the front, or the search for shampoo…

Guys, I feel I have failed you. A while back I posted quite epic (if I may say so myself) series of shaving cream reviews, with a strong focus on content, as in points deducted for mixing dodgy ingredients into the mix. Then I posted about being cosmetically cautious, paying attention to ingredients in everyday products you use on or in your body. Important matters in this day and age if we are to enjoy a long and healthy life and so forth.

Photo 02.04.15, 19.02.36

And then I went and bought a new bottle of shampoo. From my most excellent barber, in fact, and he washed my hair in it first. It smelt lovely and minty, and certainly cleaned my hair up well and proper. It came in a nice and compact bottle as well, and cost much more than I usually spend on shampoo. And it’s from Truefitt and Hill too, who did pretty well in the shaving cream investigation. So all was good in the world of washing the pomade and sundry gunk from my hair. Minty, I tell you, and it sure strips hair clean.

And then I happened to cast an eye on the list of ingredients. And felt like such a chump. You may remember engine degreasers from the time when they actually worked, back in the 90’s. They came in metal containers, and had warning signs on them, and they’d clean oil and crud off metal efficiently. And seeing as the environment was healthy and good then, we’d just hose it off and think no more of it. Then it turned out the old degreasers were really crummy and disrespectful to the environment, so we got the new ones, the ones that really don’t work at all.

Photo 02.04.15, 19.02.47

In the world of shampoo it’s still 1995 and it appears anything goes. I counted 11 ingredients in the “Frequent Use Shampoo” that are either confirmed as being really bad, or strongly suspected of being so. Heck, it’s almost as if some evil genius was trying to squeeze as much nasty stuff into that bottle as possible. Of course, completely disregarding whether your ingredients are suitable for use on humans in 2015 means it is very easy to make a shampoo that makes short thrift of degreasing the users noggin. You can probably start with an engine degreaser recipe from 1995 and add some minty smell. Of course, I’m no chemist.

Suitable infuriated (and, I have to admit, disappointed!), I sent a short mail to Truefitt & Hill outlining my concerns and listed up the 11 ingredients that had caused my brow to set in a suitable stern look.

Dear Sirs,

last week I purchased a bottle of you “Frequent use shampoo”, thinking it would be up to the usual Truefitt & Hill standards. While the shampoo itself did a good job of cleaning my hair, I was utterly gobsmacked when reading the list of ingredients. Guys, it’s 2015, we are a species of clever and innovative beings, how on earth can you produce a product with this many questionable ingredients? The list of ingredients reads more like the contents of an engine degreaser from 1950, not something that is meant to use on human skin!”

And listed up the following, with a selection of links:

  1. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  2. Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  3. Cocamide DEA
  4. Methylparaben
  5. Butylparaben
  6. Ethylparaben
  7. Propylparaben
  8. Glycol Distearate
  9. Penoxythethanol
  10. Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  11. Methylisothiazolinone

I was curious to what they would reply, and whether they would reply, but the day after I did indeed receive a reply:

“Dear Mr Johannessen,

Firstly, thank you for your email and we are very grateful for your comments and time.

Truefitt & Hill prides itself, and is indeed renowned for, its high standards and we strive to produce the best products possible.

All of our products are constantly being re-evaluated in respect of the ingredient usage, as we speak all our Shampoos are being reformulated without Cocamide DEA and other ingredients you mentioned below. We are also in the process of removing all artificial colour from all our shaving creams and have recently partnered up with a great new manufacture that is approved and certified by Soil Association and GMP Certification.

We are committed to innovation and bringing the market effective and as natural products as possible. As I mentioned, we will be implementing huge improvements to our existing formulas and moving forward we will only use the best ingredients possible. Unfortunately, these things do not happen overnight (as much as I would love them too) but please note we are working to produce cleaner, greener cosmetics that do the job.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any further questions. As mentioned, we welcome feedback and comments from all our customers.

Kind regards,


Is this good enough? I’m not sure it is. Am I being unreasonable? I don’t think so, and especially not when I read the claims on the Truefitt & Hill website:

“All our products have been carefully crafted in England since 1805 and they embody the essence of the British heritage at its best. Our dedicated team of highly skilled professionals, chemists, designers and craftsmen work tirelessly to deliver our products known today for their distinctive tradition of innovation and excellence.”

Photo 10.04.15, 07.22.37

This morning, after having archived the ominously green bottle of Truefitt & Hill, I went back to the bottle I bought last month, from Uppercut Deluxe (who make a pretty decent pomade) and what do I find? That also included Sodium Laureth Sulfate! I’m quite devastated!

Photo 10.04.15, 07.23.25

Tomorrow I’m using WDG’s organic, wholesome and sensitive product instead. Even if it’s not really that minty.



I did post a quick note about this on Instagram, and received some suggestions of products that are made using ingredients that are less damaging to health and invironment. If you have other suggestions, or general input (even to call me a tosspot for not wanting to infuse my golden locks in industrial solvent), let me know. I’ll post a followup when I have more to report.


  • WDG 09/04/2015 at 19:41

    26 gbp for a bottle of industrial solvent is harsh, even if it´s label says Truefitt&Hill. And that price is a rip off, even from a womans perspective. I´ve never paid that much for a shampoo, and I do tend to spend money on beauty products…

  • n1ketoblog 10/04/2015 at 15:35

    Hi! I just started following your blog and I think I’m going to love it! A few comments (and I don’t mean to be challenging in the least, more… opening discussion). I agree that the Turefitt & Hill had some ingredients that could definitely be switched up for some lesser of the evils. However, I would like to point out,:
    Shampoo is largely water. As such it will need some kind of preservative. Postassium sorbate (the best known “natural preservative”) is not an effective broad spectrum preservative. However phenoxyethanol is. (So are parabens but we won’t go there. That’s a whole other comment) It is likely (I don’t remember off the top of my head) listed as a 1 or 2 on the cosmetic safety database. The tests for topical sensitivity basically show you would have to put upwards of 2 liters of cream a day onto your body to absorb any toxic effects. That’s a lot. If you don’t want stuff to grow in your shampoo and you want it to last more than 2 weeks, you need a preservative. That will likely need to be (to avoid law suits) some kind of chemical. IMO
    Secondly, there are a lot of seemingly unnatural ingredients in shampoo because of the low pH of hair. Soap alone has a very high pH and causes hair to become frizzy and … not what we’re hoping for. Shampoos as we know them today are based around syndets and detergents, not soap, so that it can have a lower pH and leave our hair soft and shiny.
    Just two reasons for some of the quote “nasties” in the shampoo. So the hunt IMO is going to have to be for the lesser of the evils when it comes to shampoo. What you’re willing to accept as ingredients vs. the performance of the product.
    As an aside – I’m certainly not voting for big pharma, but I do believe that just because it’s man made doesn’t mean it’s evil and just because it’s natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.

    I am really interested to follow your reviews and tests!

    • Well Dressed Dad 12/04/2015 at 20:02

      Thanks for a considered and informative comment! I appreciate what you are saying with regards to needing preservatives, and how the topical sensitivity means you’d need to put insane amounts of the ingredients on your body to notice ill-effects. My point is that other companies are managing to do this without using these ingredients, and they are making products that actually work as well (i.e. not the sort of eco/organic product that really only works if you are willing to look past the fact that it doesn’t work). For a high-end company to be putting these ingredients in their expensive products is just not acceptable. And even less so when they admit to me that they know there are issues and are working to rectify the situation! I’m trying not to come across as some sort of Food Babe (Shampoo Guy?), and I certainly have no crazy ideas about natural being better than chemical, but… I just find it so depressing to find products that are so full of questionable ingredients, yet are happily marketed by a company that knows better and should do better.

  • John Harrison 23/07/2017 at 16:29

    But she just said that there was not a problem by doing so, especially in light of the fact that they are obviously trying to formulate a product which meets a performance criteria.


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