Things I Used to Buy That I Don't Love Anymore

I recently read a few scary articles about all the bad stuff in normal sunscreens and shampoos.  Please note: I've linked to the articles there for reference, but if I were you, I wouldn't read them.  Ignorance is more blissful (and a lot less expensive) than obsessing over ingredient lists and buying only all-natural personal care products.

Anyway, I didn't think it'd be too hard to find all-natural hair products I liked. For years, I almost exclusively used conditioner from an all-natural brand, Nature's Gate, not for fear of chemicals but because I just loved the smell and how shiny it made my hair.  I'd kind of forgot about Nature's Gate and hadn't used it in the past couple of years, but I figured it'd be easy to buy a couple of bottles at my trusty neighborhood health food store and get back on the wagon.

Well, they had Nature's Gate products, but they definitely weren't the same.  First of all, the brand has a new slick look, which was disappointing, since I loved the old hippie bottles. 

But the really awful part was how much they've changed the formula. This is the ingredient list from the old Nature's Gate conditioner:

Purified Water, Extracts of Chamomile, Nettle, Ho-lien-hua, Nelumbo Nucifera, Comfrey Root, Cherry Bark, Schleichera Trijuga, Kusambi Bark, Burdock, and Yucca, Vegetable Emulsifying Wax, Coconut Oil, Methylparaben, Myrrh Oil, Lavender Oil.

This is what goes into the stuff that's now sold under the Nature's Gate label:

Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Quaternium-87, Polysorbate 60, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Bark Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Arctium Lappa (Burdock) Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Root Extract, Lilium Candidum (White Lily) Bulb Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera (Sacred Lotus) Flower Extract, Quercus Alba (Oak) Bark Extract, Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Caramel.

What's up with that?  Well, a little digging seems to shows that the formula changes got under way in August 2006, about a year and a half after Levlad, the company that's always made Nature's Gate, was acquired by a private equity firm. Surprise, surprise.

Don't get me wrong: I know M&A can often be a great thing for brands, but what the acquirer did here puzzles me. Why would they buy Levlad only to make so
many unpronounceable additions to its flagship product right now, as more and more people are scrutinizing ingredient lists?  The new formula may be cheaper to make, but I'd personally be happy to pay double what I used to pay for Nature's Gate just to have the old formula back-- and I'm sure I'm not the only disappointed former fan.

Oh well, it's back to the haircare drawing board for me.  Any suggestions for *truly* all-natural shampoos and conditioners are very welcome!

By ely at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 1, 2009
Bummer! That was a great conditioner! :-(
By michael at 7:55 p.m. May 31, 2017
I had used NG Herbal Hair conditioner for my hair since about 1975 and up to about 2014. I liked the scent but most of all loved the way it made my hair feel. As a surfer and diver I was always exposed to the salty sea of the Pacific, windy days on boats or on a surfboard and lots of sun. Probably the worst environment for long hair. However NG always brought it back to a supple, healthy and flaxen state. I used to buy it by the gallon from my local health food store after I moved to the mainland. They changed the formula about 2014, or maybe that's when the supply of the original formula ran out. Either way it was a night and day difference. The new stuff actually made my hair feel worse than when it was dirty. It was like shampooing with wax. A comb would not even pull through wet hair. With a brush it was like I had grease in my hair. No comparison. I felt totally betrayed. I can afford whatever products I want and so started the long journey of testing of various conditioners. I finally found one that gives me the same result - Graham Webb Silk Repair Thermacore Therapy. Its quite expensive but it is the ONLY thing I've found that works for my hair.

I completely quit using ANY Nature's Gates products after that. Upon further internet research I find they were bought out by a corporate conglomerate that fell back on cheap, chemical laden ingredients - fourth ingredient in the current formula for NGHHC is Polysorbate 60. Really? "Along with polysorbate 80, it is known to be commonly contaminated with 1,4 dioxane which is known to cause cancer in animals." Thats an indicator that the parent company of these products does not care about the environment or the effects upon its users. Like the pet food industry, they are 'self-regulated' which means they can engineer products not meant for consumption with anything they want without EPA or FDA oversight. All to make more money. They did the classic corporate two-step: buy a successful product and change it to make it cheaper to manufacture, damn the consumer. Pilikai!
By kat at 12:40 p.m. Aug. 1, 2019
Thanks for your blog post about Nature’s Gate. I have also used that conditioner for years, and loved it. When I found out the company was being bought out, I stockpiled and kept most of it in the fridge. I’m about to run out and thought I’d do a little research on the new formula. It’s as I feared, and I will have to find something new. Too bad!
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