Christophe Robin Makes SALT SCRUB FOR HAIR.

Even though the brand is ridiculously expensive, I will never not look forward to trying out a Christophe Robin hair product. (The fact that I keep getting generously-sized samples in my Sephora Play! box probably doesn’t hurt.) I’ve already tried (and loved, and hated how much I loved) the  Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask ($71/8.33oz at Amazon) from the same brand, but a $53/8.33oz “purifying scrub with sea salt” for … hair?

Stay weird, Christophe. Stay weird.

The company claims this product is “the ideal detox treatment to remove product buildup and rebalance sensitive or oily scalps. It can also be used as a post-coloring treatment to relieve itchiness and remove chemical residues left on the scalp … leaving it soothed, rebalanced, and healthy.” So … it’s a clarifying shampoo, basically. With scrubby bits and delusions of grandeur.

Clarifying shampoo is 100% in line with Christophe’s hair philosophy. In an Into The Gloss interview, Christophe complained that “in America, the girls wash their hair everyday with products that coat the scalp, so right after the hair is flat. In California — Los Angeles, San Francisco — I see that it’s changing. But they do too much with their hair.” I have an oily-ish scalp and I frequently use thick hair masks and dry shampoo, so a “detox treatment” (I don’t think that word means what you think it means) to “remove product buildup” is right up my alley.

The texture of this stuff is odd; it’s a thick, sticky, translucent white paste with huge salt chunks — not the little granules in table salt, or even the larger crystals in foodie sea salt; this stuff is, like, de-icing salt, but with smoother edges. (For those of you who don’t live on a ski mountain, rock salt is scattered over roads and sidewalks to lower the melting point of ice. You can also buy ‘ice melt,’ which includes magnesium chloride or calcium chloride, and works even at -15F. It also eats through car paint.) It smells citrus-y, but not a true bright citrus — more perfume-y and salon-y. I don’t mind it, and it doesn’t linger once rinsed; whatever conditioner you follow up with will probably eliminate any remaining scent.

ANYWAY. I scooped out a teaspoon’s worth and rubbed it into my wet scalp with my fingertips as directed. Turns out that shoving huge chunks of solid crystals through wet hair isn’t easy; I had to lift up sections of hair and apply directly to the part in order to get a semi-even application on the scalp. (I later discovered that if you do an okay-ish application, then duck your head under the water stream for half a second to get your hair soggy, it spreads much more easily.)

The shampoo lathered nicely, and the salt granules dissolved as I massaged it in … sort of. It was weird to have huge chunks of salt chillin’ atop my crown for a couple of minutes, like I had cat litter in my hair or something. Some of the more ginormous salt crystals fell off onto the shower floor, and it was not pleasant to walk on them. I didn’t feel like there was any direct exfoliating action from the salt, so I couldn’t figure out why they’d bothered with the “sea salt” gimmick. But as the salt crystals finally melted, I realized — this shampoo has built-in water softener! Clever! The water in my area generally runs through granite canyons before it gets to me, so it’s hard AF. Good for winning taste-testing contests; bad for hair and skin. (The first time I showered in a state with soft water, I literally giggled the whole time because everything was lathering so well and the water felt so lightweight.)

I think the softness of the water may have offset some of the harshness of the shampoo; once rinsed, this stuff made my hair LITERALLY squeaky-clean, which means stripped, which is not something you should subject your hair to on a daily basis. But it also felt somewhat fluffy while wet, an effect I’m attributing to the salt. I followed up with conditioner and hair mask (as I always do); once dry, my scalp felt cleaner than usual, and my hair was about as hydrated as it normally is.

One word of caution: DO NOT RINSE AND REPEAT. I REPEAT: DON’T REPEAT. The fourth time I used this, my hair was pretty gunky (it looked and smelled fine, but I was on day … five? maybe even six? thanks to a tight schedule and the miracle of dry shampoo). When I applied, lathered, rinsed, my hair felt squeaky-clean; but I didn’t believe ANY shampoo could have scoured all the sweat and oils and powder crap out of my hair in one go, so I applied, lathered, rinsed again. Even after conditioning and masking, my hair felt like velcro for the rest of the day — it was dry and tangled and cranky (and thus I was cranky, too).

This does a much better job getting rid of product build-up than the other clarifying shampoos I’ve tried, but I don’t know that I’d invest in a whole tub of it — $53 is a lot of dollars. Granted, I did get five uses out of my 1.3-oz pot (six, if you consider that one of those was a foolish double-cleanse), so I imagine a full-sized jar would probably last 40 uses — a good ten months, if you use it as a once-weekly clarifying treatment.

Tried this one? Got a favorite clarifying shampoo? Share!