Thursday, 23 June 2011

Product Review: Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Treatment

Well, the day had to come: After years of thoroughly understanding cosmetic ingredients and avoiding wasting money, I found myself duped by a product's marketing. A recent post on another Canadian beauty blog prompted me to respond with my personal experience using this product, which got me thinking if I should post something more detailed on here. To clarify, I barely ever read cosmetic claims or reviews anymore, because I've amassed and memorized so much knowledge about the multitude of ingredients usually found in products that I can usually deduce how a product will perform just by skimming over the ingredient list (the amount of money, time, frustration and skin irritation this has saved me, I could never quantify).

So I guess I thought myself invincible, that no cosmetic company trickery could possibly get past my razor sharp "BS detection skillz". But my how the mighty fall.....

On a recent expedition to stock up on products, I took a quick look at the Live Clean Argain Oil treatment, which billed itself as a silicone free and lower priced version of Moroccan Oil. After a momentary perusal of the top few ingredients and mild shock at how low the price was (approx. 12~ CDN), in my basket it went. Should have known it was too good to be true.... Pure Argan Oil is incredibly expensive, and had Live Clean actually included the amount that it seems like they included, they would likely barely profit on each unit sold. One thing that is absolutely unheard of in the cosmetics industry is low returns on ingredient costs. They will find a way to do it cheap and sell it for more if their life depends on it.

On my way home I took a better look and saw some suspicious looking bullet points. In order to make it look like the Argan extracts, oil and grapeseed and olive oils were present in higher quantities than the standard ingredients, those ingredients were separated with a bullet point right after water, and divided by the word "with". There it was, I was tricked and bamboozled! I am a reluctant returner, so I simply decided to make the most of it and take a look at how I can use the product up. It seems that it will be handy as a light hold, hydrating leave in gel because of the high Sorbitol content. And so it was, when I put it into my hair, it dried with a bit of hold (which I usually dislike seeing as how coarse my hair is to begin with), but I can make it work as long as I mix in coconut oil as an additional leave in.

Now to be entirely clear, this labeling is illegal according to Health Canada, but they will likely continue to get away with it, unless a bunch of consumer complaints are logged. Frankly, I don't plan on sending any formal complaint, I simply should have looked more carefully. I do feel bad for other consumers who may not be as well acquainted with the legislation, pricing strategies and bad marketing behaviour that affect the industry, but I'm certainly not the best person to speak for the consumer group that this brand targets (considering my well known love of silicones, sulfates, parabens etc). So anyone else that experiences any indignation at being so blatantly lied to is more than welcome to file a complaint with Health Canada, or send a letter to Live Clean directly.

Onward ho, to that tricky pesky ingredient list:
  • aqua (purified water) -This was listed first, and is the standard, water.
  • with Argania Spinosa extract, argania spinosa kernel (argan) oil, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, olea europa (olive fruit) oil - Here they are, the 4 separated "feature" ingredients, all of which would have real substantive value for dry, coarse damaged hair, were they present in the amounts they appear to be. When listed this way, it's impossible to estimate how much is present, but it can't be that much - otherwise what would be the gimmicky purpose of listing them in what seems like the top of the ingredient list.
  1. Sorbitol: Here is where the real list begins. Sorbitol is probably the second most concentrated ingredient and you can really tell. Sorbitol is a sugar derivative, meaning it retains some of the humectant properties, but also some of the sticky film that is left on the surface.
  2. Propanediol: Used as a solvent for other ingredients and its somewhat emollient properties also help it emulsify other ingredients
  3. Polysorbate 20: emulsifying agent
  4. Phenoxyethanol: preservative, does release formaldehyde
  5. Parfum: Off course, a product must smell good
  6. Hydroxyethylcellulose: used to create a thicker more gel-like feel
  7. Sodium benzoate: preservative
  8. Cetrimonium chloride: quaternary conditioning agent, in high concentrations (unlikely) it helps temporarily fill in cracks in the hair's texture, making it seem as if split ends are repaired
  9. Caprylic/capric triglyceride: emulsifiers and emollients


  1. Thank you so much for reviewing the product so thoroughly and including an ingredients list! I bought this a while ago, hoping it to be a cheaper but still mildly effective replacement for Moroccan Oil, but once I tried to apply it to me hair I was very disappointed with its gel consistency. I've used half the bottle in hopes that it would eventually do something for my hair, but after reading your breakdown of the ingredients, I'm not surprised that it hasn't done anything at all. I tried to look at the ingredients label recently but the peel back film was so stuck together that I peeled the whole label off and couldn't separate it anymore! Out of all the reviews I found, yours was the most informative and comprehensive. I've become a fan of your blog! Thank you!

  2. Thank you for you comment Carm. This is the sort of thing I am hoping to do with this blog, help other choose better and save money.

  3. Thanks for the ingredient list. I was planning on purchasing it, but decided to see if anyone had posted what was actually in it. I'll pass! You just saved me $12!

  4. Grrrr I bought this today because it was the only argan oil I saw at walmart :( Back to sally beauty next time! Thanks for this review :)

  5. Coming back to say after using, if they marketed this as a hair gel instead it would be my favorite gel! lol.. I have very dry curly hair and it holds my curls quite nicely, the cetrimonium chloride must be doing wonders for my hair even if it's phoney and temporary hahaha. However they do not market this as a gel they market it as an argan oil treatment, and I definitely could tell as soon as I poured it into my hand there isn't much oil to it, and false advertising annoys me so I won't buy it again for that reason alone :( I had a little under 1/4 bottle of other argan oil that I mixed in with it to make it a little better, I'll still use it up anyways :)

  6. Man I'm so disappointed. I just bought this product. I was trying to avoid ingredients that I don't know about and this product is full of it. They don't even list it on the product. So disappointed:( Especially since it was my dad's money. I am so frustrated as a consumer.

  7. They tricked me today. I usually consider myself savvy when it comes to reading ingredients and they managed to get me good. I am a regular user of actual Argan oil and when I saw the price of this I too knew it was too good to be true but after reading the ingredients thought I would give it a try. And that was even noticing that it wasn't actually pure, because it was the first ingredient after water. As soon as I a saw the texture of the product I knew I had been tricked. This stuff looks like a leave-in gel conditioner. It was as good as glue for my hair literally. My hands were left sticky as glue and I had to shower it off immediately because I felt like I had glue dried and stuck in my hair. Not fun. I wish I had read this review sooner. I guess I'm not as savvy as I thought.

  8. I also bought this product. It's going in the garbage. Wish I had seen your blog earlier. Thanks for your time and effort, you're very thorough and informative.

  9. Yesterday I got my first allergic reaction - severe hives on my scalp and face from live clean conditioner. I suggest staying away from the entire line!

  10. I have colored hair and applied them when my hair is still wet and ready to comb. It works on me, i have shiny smooth hair whole day.��