Sucheta Dalal :Shampoos : A Load of Foam?
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Shampoos : A Load of Foam?  

May 27, 2005

Check out the findings of Insight, the consumer magazine of CERC to find out the best and worst of Indian shampoos.





Shampoos: A load of Foam?

Insight - The Consumer Magazine of March-April 2005 has published the comparative test findings of its in-house comparative product testing laboratory on 23 brands of shampoo — 22 national and one regional.  

Insight says, the shampoos that we use today are exempted from labeling information on detergency, list of key ingredients and ‘best use before’ date (for pack sizes of 10gm and 25ml and for products with a shelf-life of more than24 months). The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Committee, predominated over by the industry, had taken this decision adversely affecting the consumer need for safety. The brands that did not put the ‘best use before’ date on their labels are: Rejoice Rich, Pantene Pro-V, Head & Shoulders and Beauty Plus. But since the IS has been amended, we cannot call them non-conforming. The Consumer Education and Research Center (CERC), which publishes Insight plans to take up the matter with the BIS owing to the implications of withholding such important information from consumers.

Sachet fiddle:

Small sizing or sachets was the big revolution in FMCG manufacturing. And the media has devoted reams of newsprint to praising sachets and their profitability. Insight tells you one reason why they are so profitable. Here is what it says:

Did you know that sachets, the most convenient of all pack sizes, give you less than what they claim to contain?

1. We found that 3 out of the 13 brands put to the test — Clinic All Clear, Himalaya Ayurvedic, Concepts and Sunsilk White Anti-dandruff — did not carry even the labeled net volume.

2. After observing them for another eight weeks in controlled temperature, we found loss, ranging from as low as 0.03 gm to as high as 3.03 gm in all sachets taken up for testing. So storing sachets is a bad idea.  But read on for some company responses.

The six brands that showed maximum loss were:  Vatika Henna Cream Conditioner, Clinic All Clear, Vatika Anti-dandruff, Lux Super Rich, Nyle Herbal and Sunsilk Black. 

Only 4 brands — Pantene Pro-V, Head & Shoulders,Rejoice Rich and Mediker — did not lose weight even after 8 weeks.

Insight empanelled 45 volunteers to use shampoos and give their opinion on how the brands performed, particularly for cleanliness, manageability (both wet and dry), as anti-dandruff, and for any special effect on the hair. The panelists rated the brands vis-à-vis their overall liking of the products. On a 100-point scale they awarded the brands marks ranging from 83 to as low as 37.

The most liked was Sunsilk Moisturising White Anti-Dandruff which recorded the highest score of 83 among the anti-dandruff shampoos. Among the regular shampoos, Rejoice Rich with a score of 79 was liked the most.

Best Buy

We found Super Rich Lux Shampoo (78), with a good overall score and reasonable price, to be your Best Buy among the regular brands of shampoo tested. Among the brands of anti-dandruff shampoo tested, we recommend Sunsilk White Anti-dandruff (87) to be your Best Buy.

Claims vs. Facts

Through literature studies, we have also, analysed the unfounded claims on the packaging vs. facts. Can shampoos, for instance, mend split ends? Do proteins in shampoo nourish hair? Do fruit acids in shampoo help the hair grow, remove dandruff  totally, etc.

Discarding all such claims, Consumer Reports, USA, says, to keep dandruff and flaking under control, washing with normal shampoos several times a week suffices; and that botanicals by and large do more to the labels than to the hair. Hence our title, Shampoos: A Load of Foam ?

Shampooing tips like washing your hair leaning over a basin or the bath to let blood circulation increase around your scalp and hair roots, how to use shampoos properly, or queries like "is more foam the better shampoo"?, etc. have also been discussed in the INSIGHT issue.

As a policy, before publishing the results, we convey the test findings to all the manufacturers for their views and comments. They receive only the results of their own products.

Excerpts :

Himalaya Ayurvedic Concepts Protein Shampoo and Lever Ayush Dandruff Naashak Shampoo said that they are not "cosmetic products", but are marketed as an ayurvedic proprietary medicine, and not as cosmetics.

INSIGHT : As the product is labeled shampoo and contains substantial quantity of active detergent, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 as well as the IS, irrespective of the claim that the product is an ayurvedic proprietary medicine is applicable.

Dabur Vatika Anti-dandruff Shampoo said the volume reduction reported is on account of loss of moisture in the product and there is no change in the product performance due to such moisture loss. Therefore it does not agree that there is financial loss to the consumer.

Hindustan Lever Limited said that the weight loss percentage in the sachets could vary depending on laminate structure, laminate thickness, laminate barrier properties and on storage conditions. Moisture loss is a common phenomenon in shampoo sachets which, however, doesn’t compromise with the active ingredients of the product.

INSIGHT : The tolerance limit allowed under Weights & Measures Act are only relevant for the purpose of prosecution. However whatever is marked on the pack, the consumer must get. Incidentally, there is no information by manufacturers that the consumers may get less weight with the passage of time due to evaporation or otherwise.

For more details of rating and ranking, read and subscribe to Insight, the consumer magazine published by Consumer Education and Research Society, Thaltej, Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway, Ahmedabad -380054, Gujarat, India

Phone : 079-27489945/46, 27450528, 30121001-2-3

Fax : 079-27489947

Email : [email protected],

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(Disclosure: Sucheta Dalal is a Trustee of CERC Ahmedabad. It is one of the largest consumer NGOs in India and has the only private product testing laboratory in the country).


-- Sucheta Dalal