When does a $33 shampoo debut to rave reviews without a wink, a nod, and a celebrity endorser? When it’s Iles Formula’s shampoo — the new gold standard of excellence in hair care. To use the words of one Sephora reviewer, this is a game changer.
Iles (pronounced like a store aisle) Formula is the brainchild of hairstylist Wendy Iles, who’s worked with Penelope Cruz, Frieda Pinto, Rita Ora, and Marion Cotillard. Wendy likes to say the crown jewel of the line is her conditioner, which is replete with expensive ingredients that were never intended to be packaged and sold to the masses: “I just wanted to create something for myself,” she told me. And though the conditioner is a striking medley of oils and silk proteins, which renders hair as smooth as satin sheets, it’s the shampoo that’s the real hero here – you’ll notice a difference in just one use.
These days, a shampoo is heralded by what it lacks, and in Iles’s case, it’s free of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates (a gelling agent commonly found in shampoos that affects the endocrine system). To make the shampoo foamy in the absence of sulfates (because people like that, says Wendy), a fizz-inducing vegetable root was added instead. Like the conditioner, it has silk proteins to smooth and soften, while vitamin B5 strengthens individual strands. What’s remarkable about the shampoo is that it cleans – really well – but doesn’t make hair feel dry. Unlike moisturizing shampoos (which my curly hair knows quite well), Iles’s version doesn’t feel heavy and rinses easily. Don’t expect a squeaky, over-stripped clean with Iles’s shampoo, but gear up for a comfortable cleanse that smells like white flowers.
You might say that in the past few years shampoo has taken a backseat to the all-promising allure of cleansing conditioners, and in some cases, that’s true. But if the tide is turning back to traditional shampoos, this version by Iles is surely the one to charter the way.
Iles Formula Shampoo, $33 at Sephora.