Thursday, July 24, 2014

LUSH Superbalm

Superbalm is among one of a handful of new hair products LUSH debuted earlier this year. Although I was in a LUSH last month to have a one-on-one with a store manager about their facial moisturizer line, my eyes couldn't help but zoom in on the words "scalp treatment" and "flakes". Having dealt with a dry scalp for most of my life, I'm always interested in products that can help manage those embarrassing tiny white flakes.

The formula's stars are coconut oil and candelilla wax to soothe and moisturize. It also uses salicylic acid, which is an exfoliant that helps shed flakes; it's an ingredient that is used in some anti-dandruff shampoos and appears to significantly reduce dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis problems (here's one trial abstract). Because of the high coconut oil content (it's the first ingredient!), the texture depends largely on the current climate in your area. The photo on LUSH's product page shows a thicker, more balm-like texture, but in the current Vancouver summer weather, mine is considerably goopier--not that it's a bad thing, it kind of makes it easier to apply.

I wash my hair every other day and used this each time before shampooing for about two weeks. I felt there was a noticeable improvement in my dry scalp after the first use, and got better and better after that. As with most LUSH products, a little goes a long way so I still have most of my product. Despite that, I'm planning to scale back to using it only once or twice a week to stretch out my tin even more because I think that usage level is enough to manage my dry scalp in the summer--winter is a different story though @__@

Here's how I've been using it: following the instructions, I scoop some product up with my fingers and massage into my scalp, focusing on problem areas (mainly my hairline), and going back for more product until I'm satisfied that I've gotten to all my flaky areas. I clip my hair up--at this point it looks a little greasy because of the coconut oil--and do whatever for 20 minutes, then jump in the shower and wash my hair thoroughly. Sometimes I shampoo and rinse twice to make sure that all of the product is washed out. On one occasion, I was in a rush and didn't wash thoroughly enough; I still had some product in my hair so my hair looked greasy/wet in some parts. Because I pretty much never get an oily scalp or oily hair, the feeling and knowing it looked that way was absolutely maddening. Ugh, I'm never making that mistake again.

I like the inclusion of lavender oil in the formula, which has a calming, relaxing scent that is perfect for a pre-bedtime shower. LUSH also cites lavender oil as an antiseptic and antibacterial ingredient, which may be helpful to those with dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis, since both can be caused by a type of yeast.

Although we all know the general rule to skin care is patch test first, I especially recommend a patch test for this product because (1) a scalp that is dry/afflicted with dandruff can be extra sensitive and (2) salicylic acid can cause irritation in rare cases (source). I have had no problems with using it on my scalp and have left it on for way longer than 20 minutes before with no adverse effects.

Aside from the slight annoyance of washing my hair out very, very thoroughly, Superbalm has worked really well at reducing my flakes; I would repurchase and I would recommend it to other people dealing with dry scalp or dandruff. Final note: the ingredients list on the LUSH product page is definitely incorrect--there is no way salicylic acid is the first (highest concentration) ingredient because it would probably take your scalp off. The ingredient list I have below is taken from the actual product labeling and is most likely the correct one due to regulations on product labels.

Do you have dry scalp or dandruff? How do you manage it?

Ingredients: Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, Euphorbia cerifera (candelilla wax), salicylic acid, Rosa damascena flower wax, Lavandula Angustifolia (lavender) oil, Chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower oil, Rosa damascena extract, limonene, linalool, geraniol, citronellol, fragrance (parfum)

Available at LUSH: $19.95 CAD / 45g

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