Posted by: Chelsea Novak | August 15, 2010

A scent to sneeze: A haircare tragedy in one part

I have a pretty firmly held belief that scent is the most powerful of the five senses. Considering that I’ve never smoked, don’t drink things like coffee nor eat exceedingly spicy foods, I’ve done very little to deaden the power of my sniffer. So for me smells, good or bad, make a big difference.

When it comes to beauty products, people learned early on that making things smell good helped those same things smell well. People, like myself, have even been prone to using mediocre products just because they smell so delish (Revlon Flex Shampoo I’m looking at you). Sometimes, an item smells as good as it works (Hi, Smith’s Rosebud Salve and Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo). Other times… other sad and tragic times… a product yields wonderful results, but smells wrong.

Before I get into this particular rant, I’d like to offer a caveat that preferences in smell are mightily subjective. We all have different chemistry and as such find different tastes and scents variously appealing or repulsive. For the billions of people who think that anise is what heaven smells like, there will be another billion or so like me, who think it smells like evil crawled up it’s own ass and set itself on fire. Different strokes for different folks as it were.

With that out of the way, I bring us to the issue at hand. L’Oreal’s premium line of hair care products: Kérastase. Considered by most in the beauty scene to be the best of the best of the best of the best of hair care, Kérastase, while exceedingly expensive, yields pretty phenomenal hair results. Indeed, when I first started using their Résistance line I was flinging-my-hair-around-like-it-was-a-shampoo-ad impressed. My hair was strong, shiny and manageable. Also, the stuff smelled great.

I told my stylist that I had treated myself and bought a shampoo and powerfully restorative conditioner from the Résistance (green) line. She let me know that I should really be using the Nutritive (white/orange) line for slightly dry hair. Being the fairly obedient gal that I am, I trotted off and hooked myself up.

Expecting another treat for my olfactory system, I was taken aback by this version of Kérastase. Within moments of starting up a lather, my nose started itching as though I’d done a swan dive into a lake full of ragweed. While the actual scent was more death by wild flowers than hell fire, the effect was unpleasant. By the end of my shower I was lucky that I hadn’t torn my nose fully off from all the itching. The upside? My hair looked amazing. Not to be dissuaded by the first bad experience, I tried washing my hair with the shampoo and conditioner 4 more times. Each time with an immediate and intense allergic reaction. Sad, sad faces for me.

This left me with three thoughts:

1) I’m becoming one of those* people
2) This is why I can’t have nice things.
3) Any of my friends in the city who aren’t allergic to EVERYTHING, if you’d like 3/4 full bottles of Kérastase Nutritive Shampoo & Conditioner, let me know and they’re yours.


*those people are the ones who can’t bear powerful scents and allergens and eventually end up having to live in a scent-free bubble. I fear and loathe the scent-free bubble.

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