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The Best Shampoos of 2020

The best conditioners of 2020, key haircare ingredients, and pulling it all together.

Kim holding shampoo bottles without labels

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This is Kim. She’s responsible for hair at BEAUTY PIE (and other projects like luxury candles and deluxe bodycare, and whatever else she can juggle, because she’s a marvel at focused multitasking). Kim did a Masters in publishing and spent a year serving grossly overpriced fish and chips and English breakfasts to hipsters in Shoreditch, then accidentally fell into product development, because (it’s a theory of ours) even the biggest craniums are hopeless in the face of a compelling beauty call!

Now, no two working days are alike in product development at BEAUTY PIE, and despite the glamorous perception, NPD is a science built of details, sometimes tenuously-connected and reliant on seamless and often lucky communication with several parties, working in different zones around the planet, with ingredients sourced from somewhere, bottles from somewhere else, peripherals to be managed. Our haircare development project involved everything from deep understanding of shine-enhancers, pea amino acids, and visits to Grasse, to neck circumference matching, pump newton spring strength testing, adhesive label bond strength-testing. Yep. All of that.

Of course with our hotly anticipated haircare category, stakes were high, and Kim knew she’d have to deliver on what our members wanted: the best shampoos, conditioners, and repair treatments that were colour-safe, clean, strengthening, sulphate free, shine-inducing, repairing, and weightless. And of course hydrating. And something for thinning hair eventually. And for volumizing. Hey, we want it all, don’t we?

So, she sent briefs out to a shortlist of carefully-selected suppliers, got first round submissions in, tested them across different hair types in the office (which involved a lot of shampooing and conditioning, and a surprisingly complicated Excel file with conditional formatting and everything) and tracked scores on lather, slip, rinse-off, shine, static, manageability, how they dealt with dry hair and split ends, and any and all other peripheral comments, before we finally narrowed down to the ONE (laboratory).

What followed? Hundreds of ingredient dossiers, active combination potential analysis, expert haircare formulators’ advice, trialling and testing, and tens of (recyclable) little bottles with code numbers lining the edges of each of our shower stalls for months, like little, expectant, hopeful soldiers foretelling future great hair days.

Shampoo label design

In the end, it was state-of-the-art Colour Plus Amino Acids from Quinoa which penetrate into the hair shaft for powerful colour protection, improve hair colour uptake and enhance hair colour retention, Lustreplex Shine Enhancer for frizz-resistance, detangling, light, non-dulling conditioning, and amazing daily shine with no-buildup, and Perfect Hair Peptides from Pisum Sativum for hair volumizing and increased hair hydration and smoothing (the weightless type of smoothing, natch), and don’t forget antioxidant protection, plus Moisture Plump PCA for hair strengthening, shine and silkiness, detangling, and a second shot of colour retention.

Of course every addictively good shampoo and conditioner needs a great fragrance. So we briefed in ideas to one of our favourite French noses - who has a high patience threshold and is competitively perfectionistic – and a fresh green tea came out on top.

We had four fully-loaded and unanimously-loved formulations. (One split in stability testing, so it was back to the chemist’s bench.) Once they all also passed 12 weeks of compatibility testing, we were ready to order. Bottles, labels, pumps, raw ingredients, all which the lab needs ‘on hand’ before they’ll book production time. So about 18 months, start to finish, and a lot of stamina required, to bring BEAUTY PIE members the world’s best shampoos and conditioners. We know you’ll love them.

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BEAUTY PIE Staff

2 years ago


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