Jennifer Hirsch, our In-house Botanist, and Claire Mant, our Formulations Expert, share their stories about the creation of our new Botanical Shine Treatment.
Why and how did you start creating Botanical Shine Treatment?
Claire: After receiving numerous customer requests, our Marketing team provided me with a brief and work commenced! We wanted to create a treatment that would help people with frizzy, very dry, coarse and/or unmanageable hair get smooth, satin locks. The brief asked us to make sure it was colour safe, just like the other products in our Naturally Active Haircare range, and that it would leave hair smooth, frizz-free, tamed and manageable. As soon as I saw the brief, I knew just where I would start.
When we were developing our Botanical Shine Conditioners, I initially formulated a contender for people with dry hair, which our tests suggested would be better suited to those with very dry hair. Jennifer, however, with her very thick, coarse and frizzy hair loved it! With the addition of some extra lovely botanical actives, I knew I could create a treatment that would make Jennifer’s locks (and those of people with similar hair), soft, smooth and manageable.
Jennifer: As a team, we’re always looking for companies that take the same responsible approach to sourcing botanical ingredients as we do. So when it comes to finding a new botanical active, we have a carefully edited stable of suppliers to choose from. Caring passionately about ingredients can lead to healthy debates – as we each champion favourite contenders for inclusion. By the time we’ve fought the corner for an ingredient, we know where its strengths lie, and whether it will live up to the expectations of a botanical ingredient in a Liz Earle product.
Claire: Working together for three years, I know when a story is going to meet Jennifer’s high standards for traceability and sustainability, and she knows when the science that supports the activity of an ingredient is going to be of a high enough calibre to hold up under my scrutiny!
Jennifer: Frequently, we find ourselves proposing the same ingredients to each other – a pretty good sign of quality. Then once we’ve settled on our actives, I get down to researching them and leave Claire to work her magic…
Jennifer, this is a project particularly close to your heart, isn’t it?
Jennifer: I have, or should say HAD, manic, curly hair that defies conditioning. Of course, the grass is always greener on the other side and I’ve coveted sleek locks since I was old enough to recognise the difference. I have been on the quest for a satin smooth barnet, and not the Crystal Tipps look I used to sport, for as long as I can remember.
Claire: So you can see, with a head of hair like that sat at the desk opposite me, I was quick to experiment with our next haircare product, Botanical Shine Treatment. Jennifer was my guinea pig and went home and tried and tested each formulation that I thought was a contender with varying results. One day, she came back in with the words ‘I love it! If we don’t launch this, you’ll have to make it specifically for me!’
What’s special about the ingredients in Botanical Shine Treatment?
Jennifer: Decades of seaweed research sit behind our red algae extract, and there is science that confirms its ability to help build an effective barrier against dryness, flattening the cuticles so that each hair is sleeker and softer. We also take advantage of nature’s caring skills, using a cotton extract from the rarest of the cultivated cottons to help enhance the hair’s natural barrier. Just as cotton sugars work on the fibres of each cotton seed, our extract works to improve smoothness for frizz-free hair. With sumac wax, geisha have taken advantage of its hair-taming properties for centuries. It helps increase combability, manageability and improves the condition of frizzy, coarse or very dry hair.
Claire: Just to make sure that all the actives we had included were pulling their weight – specifically the cotton extract and the red algae extract – I made three different versions of the treatment to test; one containing both, one with cotton extract and one with red algae extract.
Jennifer: So I went home and methodically divided my hair into three and used each treatment in an identical way on each. I arrived on the island the next day sporting my unusual hairstyle under a hat, and Claire had the proof she needed that both cotton extract and red algae extract were critical to achieving the performance.
Claire: And Jennifer had a fantastic hairstyle. We should have taken a photo… I may have to work harder to convince her to try future developments!
Because it’s called a treatment, does that make it any more fussy?
Claire: Not at all, you just use it in place of your standard conditioner. All this can be done in the shower.
Jennifer: I only wash my hair about once a week, and use this instead of conditioner when I do. I apply it for 10 minutes but, if I want that extra pampering or boost, I apply it for up to 30 minutes.
Claire, as one of the lucky few to be blessed with ‘normal’ hair, you can still use this treatment too, can’t you? Did you intend to create it for more than one hair type? And what does it offer you?
Claire: I can still use this treatment and do so every couple of weeks just to give my hair a little more TLC. I avoid my roots and just apply from mid-lengths to ends, leaving it on for around 2 minutes, and my hair is left feeling soft and smooth. The brief was to develop a treatment for people who had very dry, unmanageable and coarse hair, but most people love to give their hair a little boost and pamper, so we wanted it to be suitable for those with dry and normal hair or those whose hair had been subject to more aggressive conditions such as colouring, chlorine, etc. With a lot of experimenting and testing, we realised that using the treatment for different periods of time on different hair types gave the same benefits.