Nexxus

California-based Nexxus has been a salon staple for years, and has steadfastly stood by its "nature and earth united with science" tag line, despite the fact that uniting nature and science doesn't necessarily result in better hair-care products, at least not in this case. Still, it's the nature hook that pulls in many salon customers, and over the years Nexxus has gone from making questionable claims for many of its products to blatant dishonesty in some cases.

Many Nexxus products have been completely reformulated since I reviewed this line several years ago. What's interesting is not that the new formulations are good (many of them are), but that the various shampoos, conditioners, and hairsprays are more similar to each other than ever before. For example, a clarifying shampoo and a conditioning shampoo really should be completely distinct formulations, each with its own benefit for hair. That's not the case here, and the similarity makes for some very confusing products. These products can still be effective, but not necessarily in a manner that coincides with what each product claims, or for its intended hair type. [The complete Nexxus review is contained in the 3rd edition of my book Don't Go Shopping for Hair-Care Products Without Me, available here. ]

Aloe Rid Gentle Clarifying Shampoo ($10 for 13.5 ounces) is a standard, but good, shampoo. The chelating agent it contains can help remove mineral buildup. This excels as a shampoo for normal to dry hair of any thickness.

Ensure Acidifying Conditioner & Detangler ($14 for 13.5 ounces) is an acidic conditioner (pH is 3) that can shut down the cuticle layers, making the hair appear smooth and light-reflective. However, the effect is temporary because hair's pH is fickle, and after this is rinsed out, the hair will quickly revert to its normal, higher pH. Plus, styling hair with heat roughs up the cuticle layer, so any smoothing you get from this conditioner will be all for naught once the blow dryer or flat iron touches the hair. Beyond that, Nexxus added an appreciable amount of grapefruit juice to this conditioner, which can be very irritating to the scalp and drying to hair.

Comb Thru Natural Hold Design and Finishing Mist ($9 for 10.6 ounces) is an extremely light aerosol hairspray that provides minimal to no hold without a trace of stickiness or stiffness. It is a good option for uncomplicated styles that need the slightest hint of hold, and it contains conditioning agents that are helpful for dry hair. As the name implies, hair can be easily combed (or brushed) through.

Designing Butter High Fashion Texture Creme ($14 for 5 ounces) contains a form of sulfonic acid that can be drying to hair and possibly strip hair color with repeated use. As one of the main ingredients in this styling product, it definitely poses a problem for all hair types.

MaxxiStyler Sculpting Spray Gel (Pump) ($13 for 13.5 ounces) is a fairly sticky spray gel that provides a medium to firm hold and can be difficult to brush through. It works well for textured wet looks or can be used on dry hair to create gravity-defying lift with little movement. This formula contains no water; it is alcohol-based, but the alcohol will evaporate before it can dry the hair.