Hey, Hot Stuff

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One does not need to have a particular affinity for spicy food in order to enjoy Cabellina’s Chile Con Romero Shampoo and Conditioner (though it doesn't hurt). One look at the packaging and it's clear: There are red and green chili peppers on it. Pop the cap and it's even clearer—the bouquet is tantamount to salad. Last but not least, squeeze a little product into your hand and it's green, just in case the label and the smell hadn't stressed the “chile' bit quite strongly enough.

Though, to be honest, when it came time to massage the green shampoo into my scalp, a visceral reaction washed over me. I didn’t want to do it. It didn’t seem like a good idea. My eyes were bracing for the kind of sting that's felt when you wipe your eyes after handling a jalapeño.

Thankfully, it stung neither eyes nor follicles. The scent was strong but vastly different from the sweet/floral profile we typically associate with haircare products. And it made me wonder, Why shouldn’t our hair smell musky, gamey, or green? Why the tyranny of apple and coconut? Who’s making these decisions? Still, all things considered, I had to admit I didn’t really want to smell like a pepper until it came time to bathe again.

I can report that once my hair was dry, the pepper essence had fully dissipated, leaving me with some of the most un-perfumed tresses I’ve ever tied into a hasty topknot. In terms of performance, several weeks of use have earned this shampoo and conditioner high marks in the volume-giving and oil-fighting arenas. Both chili and rosemary extracts (the two main ingredients) are said to have scalp-stimulating qualities that promote hair growth over time. As for their anti-shed properties, this remains to be seen. Winter has always been peak molting season for me, and little change has been noted in the status quo as yet.

At the end of the day, Cabellina Chile Con Romero is more an adventure in extreme showering than a step toward finding your lifelong cleansing/conditioning companions. Give it a shot though; a little adventure never hurt anybody much in the bathroom.

—Lauren Maas

Illustrated by Lucy Han.