It seems to come out of nowhere. An affordable beauty brand, The Ordinary, announced the launch of its hair care line, and everyone on social media got crazy about it. I was one of the first people to order The Ordinary shampoo and conditioner when it launched at Sephora. Do I think as highly of this new hair launch as many influencers do? Let’s find it out.
What’s the Deal with The Ordinary Hair Care?
Few brands have made as significant an impact in the beauty sphere as The Ordinary. Social media influencers and dermatologists often recommend this company that made luxury skincare accessible at a lower price tag.
I tried a few products from their offerings, and I was almost always satisfied with the quality of their products. Specifically, I’ve been loving The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid Serum. Going for just $7.50 for one fl oz, it’s an affordable serum that offers results similar to those of higher-priced products.
The brand used a similar strategy while pricing their newly launched The Ordinary hair care line.
Currently, it’s the cheapest shampoo and conditioner at Sephora. For just $8 per 8.1 fl oz / 240 ml, it has a staggering $12 price gap with the previously most affordable offering, Pattern by Tracee Elliss Ross Hydrating Shampoo ($20 for 9.8 oz / 289.8 ml).
Sulfates in Hair Products: Yay or Nay?
It’s not only disrupting from a price point perspective for The Ordinary. In contrast to many other brands who started the war against the sulfates in hair products for as long as I remember, The Ordinary team embraced this “canceled” ingredient in their new haircare line.
In the interview with Byrdie, Prudvi Kaka, Chief Science Officer at The Ordinary’s parent brand, “Somewhere amid the clean beauty revolution, some brands started marketing sulfates as an ingredient that should be avoided […] but a close inspection of many studies shows that fear is probably unfounded.”
Recent studies debunk the myth about the toxicity of Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), most demonized off all sulfates in media. And even though some brands are still using the “sulfate-free” wording in their marketing, you can find this ingredient in way more products than you thought. It’s like SLES is still in use but not advertised as an ingredient.
Many ingredients-checker websites list SLES as a mild and relatively safe ingredient. EWG rates Sodium Laureth Sulfate’s safety on a 1-3 scale, listing skin, eyes, or lungs irritation as a potential harm. INCIDecoder lists contact dermatitis as a possible side effect of using SLESs in a detergent. Paula’s Choice lists SLES as a “good” ingredient under the cleansing agent category.
My Take: The Ordinary Shampoo
I’m not a cosmetic chemist, but as a consumer, I always check if there is Sodium Laureth Sulfate in my hair and body products. The reason: I find that shampoos and body gels that contain SLES lather most luxuriously. I’d rather go for a non-clean-beauty shampoo option rather than deal with a hair product that doesn’t lather right.
When I saw The Ordinary shampoo listing Sodium Laureth Sulfate among hero ingredients, I immediately thought it would lather like a dream. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. In my experience, the shampoo provided pretty disappointing and very minimal foam. It also didn’t offer a luxurious texture, like my favorite Fekkai, Kerastase, and Olaplex shampoos.
The scent of The Ordinary shampoo is non-existing. It’s fragrance-free, which some people prefer, but it gave a medicinal vibe that I didn’t enjoy. Honestly, even with my sensitive skin issues, I’d rather smell something yummy like mangoes or chic like sandalwood, but no “nothing.”
The brand specifically lists this shampoo as a “cleanser for body and hair,” emphasizing that it’s safe for daily usage. I was not surprised, as many shower gels also contain SLES.
Pros: Fragrance-free; multi-purpose formula; affordable.
Cons: Doesn’t lather well; thin texture.
Shop: The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Cleanser for Body and Hair ($8) at Sephora.
My Thoughts: The Ordinary Conditioner
I didn’t think highly of The Ordinary conditioner either. The texture is thin, the scent is, again, is almost non-existing which I personally do not prefer.
I also had a cognitive dissonance regarding the hero ingredient, Behentrimonium Chloride 2%. Some brands, like Puracy, mention it as a safe ingredient that helps with de-frizzing hair. While EWG labels it at toxicity level 4, rating it “high” on the potential allergies scale. The Ordinary recommends running an allergy test for the product on its website before using it, which sent me a negative vibe.
I didn’t experience any irritations on my sensitive skin, which is good. But I was not impressed by The Ordinary conditioner either. It is your typical lightweight conditioner that doesn’t weigh down the hair. But there is nothing special about it.
Pros: Lightweight, fragrance-free; contains just seven ingredients.
Cons: Thin texture; doesn’t feel lux.
Shop: The Ordinary Behentrimonium Chloride 2% Conditioner ($8) at Sephora.
* * * * *
Overall, I had a very “meh” kind of feeling about The Ordinary hair care line. Perhaps, the only lovely part about this launch was the beautiful, minimalistic packaging that looks so chic on my vanity.
Was it a fun comeback of sulfates in hair care? Sort of, if you don’t account that SLESs never actually left the haircare industry.
Will I repurchase The Ordinary hair care products? Not likely.