I've long been a fan of Aveda, and once had the pleasure of meeting the eccentric founder, Horst Rechelbacher. For years I got my hair cut at an Aveda salon in Connecticut (with cute hairdressers!), and I've used their shampoo and conditioner for ages.
Many of us in the green scene drew a collective gasp when Rechelbacher sold Aveda to Estee Lauder in 1997, but the good news is the company seems to have kept growing while still remaining every bit as true to its dark green roots (debate over how much impact Aveda has had on the other actions of its parent company continues).
I was happy to try the new products for Aveda Men, and I have to say that I haven't been disappointed. One item I was sent was a nice, compact styling brush, designed for "root lift, detangling and voluminous results on any hair type." The brush is supposed to "reduce stress" on hair and scalp. It seems to work well and has a good feel, thanks to the pretty Chinese honey wood handle, which gives it a classic, old-fashioned-in-a-good-way look. The brush comes in minimum packaging of recycled paperboard (55% post consumer), printed with soy ink.
I also got a shampoo, one of Aveda's flagship products. The bottle has a black, manly look to it (my buddies at The Art of Manliness would approve), and more importantly has a manly scent. So manly in fact that when I had a female friend sniff the bottle she wrinkled her nose. I like it, and find that after washing the remaining scent is very subtle, and refreshing. It's supposed to have naturally derived exfoliants n' stuff.
The Aveda Men product I'm most exciting about is the grooming clay, for adding texture, thickness and definition (it may even help sculpt your remaining locks over that bald spot). I had been skimming off of my ex's Aveda defining whip for years, since my hair tends to get frizzy and unruly after a shower (hey, more reason to take less of them!), plus I have a few annoying curls on the side of my head. I had been buying the whip myself, but I never liked the floral scent.
The new grooming clay is much more manly. It is more like a putty, so it is less sticky than a whip, and it works better for my hair, leaving it more natural looking, and less like I put any product in it (bonus!).
For contrast, I also picked up a sheer pomade from Alterna's Hemp Organics. According to the bright orange package, "This water based, high shine pomade smoothes, defines and gently sculpts without weighing hair down." High shine probably isn't the best for me, since my hair tends to be on the oily side, and the product has an extremely un-manly, glittery appearance. It also has an extremely long ingredients list, chock full of synthetic chemicals, including the suspect parabens and synthetic fragrance (I just think it smells kinda weird, not like anything in particular). I have to say not the ingredient list I expected for something labeled "Hemp Organics."
The pomade was more like a mousse or gel, making my hair stick together in clumps, unlike Aveda's grooming clay, which left a more natural look and feel.
If you need something for a woman in your life, check out Aveda's extensive line for the fair sex. You might also take a look at Amazon Beauty, which we also received samples from. There's shampoo and conditioner made with sustainably harvested rahua nuts, and a hot elixir for a deeper hair treatment, which you have to warm up then apply. The small company benefits and protects the rights of the native Quechua-Shuar tribe.
Learn more in our guide of green gifts for women (actually, not a bad place to look for last minute inspiration if you still haven't gotten your girl anything. Good luck!).
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