Review: John Frieda Root Awakening Shampoo and Conditioner

Saturday 24 April 2010

Shampoo is a very personal thing. Just like a foundation, what you think of a shampoo is determined by your personal hair type and preferences, and one girl’s beauty must have is another’s fail product. However, sometimes hair products come along that are universally admired as a sort of ‘best in class’ – think Matrix Biolage or Joico’s K-Pak. These are products that are generally accepted to work very well on most people, but although they provide a gold standard, their price puts a lot of people off. So, what’s a good everyday compromise? We want something that will perform effectively without breaking the bank. I think the John Frieda products have always hit this mark very well. I’ve always enjoyed using them and gotten good results, whichever range I’ve tried – and I’ve tried a few!

My hair type has changed quite a lot over the years. When John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease range first hit the shelves here, it was a godsend to me with my thick, frizzy, unruly hair as a young teenager. It was literally the only product that made my hair look good, and I bought it religiously. As I’ve gotten older my hair isn’t really frizzy any more, but it is a lot thinner and a lot drier from years of straightening and highlights. I went from my natural dark brown to quite a light blonde for a couple of years. Loading my hair with peroxide meant it could turn brassy and harsh-looking very quickly, so I came to rely on Sheer Blonde a lot, especially the violet-tinted conditioners designed to counteract brassy tones. When I eventually gave up on being blonde – as the maintenance, cost and time spent in the salon was getting ridiculous – and dyed my hair back to brunette, it was in pretty dried out condition. I’d managed to kill the natural glossy shine that I’d been so proud of. So now I need a product that will deliver that shine and moisturise heavily. I’ve tried the Brilliant Brunette Liquid shine range and really liked how it made my hair richer and more shiny.

I have a theory though, that you should switch brands of shampoo/conditioner on every new bottle. It’s something my hairdresser told me a while back – that if you consistently use the same cleansers for your hair, it becomes too ‘used’ to the ingredients and they stop being as effective. This could well be apocryphal, but its something I believe from experience. So even though I liked Brilliant Brunette, I wasn’t going to return to it for a few months.

I’d been using a Charles Worthington Salon Results duo for the past few weeks, which I was distinctly unimpressed with. Although advertised as ‘moisturising’, it didn’t seem to do much in that way for me. The formula was really runny, and it had a blah, non-descript smell. Overall, it needed binning (or palming off on my boyfriend, who doesn’t much care what he uses to wash his hair).

So, when I saw there was a new offering from the John Frieda stable, I was curious to try it. Boots were running a deal on it – 2 for £6, whereas its normally £5 each, so a decent saving was made! ‘Root Awakening Strength Infusing Shampoo and Conditioner’ sounded like just the ticket for my stressed-out, dry, breakable locks.

The range promised to leave hair soft, shiny, strengthened and full of bounce. It’s not an organic product, and nor does it mention use of any plant extract apart from Eucalyptus, but from the look of the packaging I would have expected it to be a bit more keen on its plant goodies – it comes in the usual tall John Frieda tube coloured light green, with a raised skeleton leaf design on the front. It isn’t the most attractive packaging in the world, but certainly nothing bad. You get your 250ml, which is quite generous.

The shampoo provides a medium lather and it smells almost minty, although not overpowering – sweet but clean and fresh at the same time. The conditioner is a rich cream consistency. Both products go in easily and wash out well. It left my hair feeling very light and clean – almost the experience you get from using a clarifying shampoo designed to remove product build-up. My hair was very soft – a lot more so than using my pervious shampoo and noticeably a bit more shiny. I enjoyed using this and would recommend it and repurchase it. It isn’t the best shampoo I’ve ever tried, but it’s a solid performer that left my hair looking really nice and smelling fresh. A well timed product for spring/summer and well worth a try, although not as ‘green’ and ‘botanical’ as the packaging seems to imply.

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