Concoction, the custom mix shampoo range that blends the concepts of Chemistry and Cocktail Mixology to astonishingly good effect, launched in Selfridges last week. I’ve been watching twitter feeds blow up with exclamations along the lines of of ‘So good!’, ‘Amazing!’ and ‘OMG IT REALLY works!’ ever since.
This enthusiastic response to Concoction was no surprise to me, as I’ve been using it for months and I know that it really, really works.
I was introduced to Concoction in March this year. I’d been showing my worryingly wide ‘parting’ (I see it more as a gulf, these days) to Millie Kendall, who gave my head some thoughtful consideration and then revealed that she was working with a new brand, who just might be the answer to my ongoing search for a good shampoo.
Concoction has a unique and hugely enjoyable USP: you choose your mix; it’s your cocktail to suit your hair. I hit the Concoction website to carry out my online mixology and my Concoction arrived promptly, stoutly packaged and in perfect nick. This was pre-launch, and as you can see from the picture below, the packaging has changed since I received my bottle of shampoo (left in picture) – it now matches the white bottle of conditioner on the right. The contents, however, haven’t changed. And the contents are PERFECT.
My shampoo arrived ready-mixed, but now that Concoction has launched, the happy purchaser will be able to take themselves back to Chemistry lessons, playing with the adorable pipettes that contain the serum shots (held by my handsome assistant in photo below, right). This is how you do it: add the contents of the pipettes to the shampoo base. Replace the cap, and shake to mix. If only Chemistry lessons had been that easy, and that much fun – I’d have been a cosmetic scientist by now.
And of course, cosmetic science is what it’s all about: those masterful mixologists at Concoction have created a simple menu comprised of four bases: Black Pepper & Citrus, Rosemary & Mint, Lemon & Verbena and Bakhour (a sexy, souk-like scent). Choose your base, then pick two of eight serums. To boost colour, choose Beautiful Brunette, Ravishing Red or High Definition Blonde. Want to define your curls? Curl Me Up is the serum for you. Hair dry or damaged? Try Gimme More Moisture. Need heat protection with that, Madame? Pick Thermo-Straight. Got fine hair like mine? Turn Up The Volume thickens and boosts. And if you want to give your scalp a little loving? It’s Back To Your Roots, for you – or indeed, for me.
The regular reader, or those that follow the ongoing saga that is New Year, New Riah, will know that I have troublesome tresses. Fine, limp – and quite long now, as my favourite Mr Teasy Weasy has fled the capital. Most alarmingly, my hair has been shedding at petrifying pace, and my parting is widening worryingly. I have been facing my fears through the use of alliteration, vitamin supplements and experiments with shampoo. I have never, in all my 39 and slightly more years, found a shampoo that really works for me. As a consequence, I have tried a huge number of high street brands, but they’ve all been Mr & Mrs Bear’s porridge: wrong consistency, horrible packaging, make my hair get greasy, make my hair go limp, make my hair fall out even more, make my hair break, don’t smell nice, smell nice but the smell’s too strong … honestly, I despaired of finding a shampoo I really enjoyed using.
My self-selected Concoction cocktail was Black Pepper & Citrus with one shot of Turn Up The Volume and one shot of Back To Your Roots. My first wash impressions follow. I loved the Black Pepper & Citrus scent. It’s light and fresh, and smells gorgeous and uplifting whilst you’re washing your hair, but is not too heavy or over-powering afterwards. I like my hair to smell beautiful when people get in close, but I don’t like it to overpower whichever scent I’ve chosen to wear, and the Concoction fragrance base hits the perfect balance here. Although my hair is long, it’s thin, so I didn’t need masses of product to get a good lather going, and I was happy with how easily it rinsed out. I wrapped my hair up in a towel to dry, forgot all about it while I browsed social media for a while, and then went to give it a blast with the hairdryer. It felt great – I hadn’t used any conditioner, but it felt soft and silky nonetheless. I used a wide-tooth comb to get out tangles, but I didn’t try to style it, having no mirror to hand. I left it loose around my shoulders and wandered back through to the public rooms of the House of Beheld.
“What have you done to your hair? It looks GREAT!” was the cry that greeted me from an astonished Mr Beheld. I was amazed. This is not a cry I am used to hearing. I flew to the nearest mirror. Mr Beheld was right. My hair did look great: smooth (despite the lack of conditioner), but with some body – a bit of fullness. And even – could this be true? A little bit of lift? I was delighted, but being me, also sceptical – could it keep up this performance over time? Or would my hair accustom itself to Concoction and slink back to its surly, lifeless ways? Reader, Concoction Shampoo can keep up this performance over time. I’ve been using my original mix for five months now, and I love it as much today as on our first encounter. Being a product tart, I am not faithful and exclusive to my Concoction, and I have one-night stands with other shampoo from time to time, but I love to return to Concoction. It’s my regular shampoo of choice, and it never lets me down.
Here are my favourite things about Concoction:
1. My Concoction shampoo appears to have helped to regulate my scalp – I now wash my hair when I feel like it, and in between my hair gets dirty, but not greasy. Previously, I was over-washing because the roots would become greasy so quickly, causing me to notice more shedding and become more and more paranoid about my hair … Concoction has helped to break this vicious circle.
2. My Concoction shampoo plays well with others: when I first had Concoction, I used it alone, and the effect was impressive. Then I began using it with DHC After Bath Hair Treatment, and it seemed to support that leave-in conditioner very well. When I’d tried the DHC with other shampoos, it hadn’t worked well; the DHC had felt too heavy and ‘present’ and my hair became limp.
3. Concoction now has a wash-out conditioner that I actually enjoy using (this is a first). The Creme de Concoction conditioner is a one-fits-all blend: it’s called Cashmere and White Lily, it dispenses as a little white ribbon of creamy goodness, and it’s a no-fuss joy to use.
4. My Concoction-ed hair has been sniffed at and approved by my very favourite London Cocktail Genius: Devilishly Desirable Dick, aka Dick Bradsell. I do like a good second opinion on a product, and Dick Bradsell is the ideal man to judge if Concoction can truly lay claim to expert mixology. Dick Bradsell worked the bar at The Colony Room Club, and if you’ve ever had a really great cocktail in London, chances are that Dick has either invented it, trained the inventor or fixed the drink for you himself. There isn’t really anything that Dick doesn’t know when it comes to the selection and mixing of wonderful things to be a lethal and delicious more-than-the-sum-of-their-parts, and you can read more about him here. The Youngest Great Beauty and I made haste to the bar at Soho’s El Camion (where you can find Dick towards the end of the week) to get his verdict on my freshly washed and conditioned barnet. I think I was expecting Dick to be able to pick out the individual notes in the serums and base I’d chosen, but his reaction was far more interesting than that:
“Ooh …” he said, leaning in again for another inhalation. “It smells like – like …”
The YGB and I were on tenterhooks.
“Hair!” he said, triumphantly. “Beautifully clean, freshly washed, lovely … girlfriend hair!”
“Girlfriend hair?” the YGB and I chorussed, as Fantastically Fit Fergus (pictured right, with Dick) joined us to have a sniff.
“Yes.” Dick looked at Fergus, and Fergus looked at Dick. They both nodded, micro-expressions of dreamy affection on their faces. “Lovely, lovely girlfriend hair; the sort of hair you’d like your girlfriend to have. It smells like that.”
A shampoo and conditioner that evokes ‘lovely girlfriend’. Really, could any girl ask for more?
Concoction launched in Selfridges last Thursday with a fab event organised by the gorgeous Nadine at Scoop PR. The stand at Selfridges was jostle-room only; absolutely packed with handsome and cordial gentlemen including my own escort for the night: the Youngest Most Handsome Male (calling the shots as usual in the earlier photo up top and to the right); make-up master Daniel Sandler; and – stroke of genius, this – handsome bare-chested models wearing lab coats and horn-rimmed spectacles, shaking your Concoction blend up for you in finest bartender style. Also present was the charming founder and genius behind Concoction and the whole bespoke cocktail concept: Alex Epstein.
I am a cocktail snob. If you’re buying I’ll drink anything you offer, but if I’m forking out my own money, I’m not paying for anything less than something cold and delicious mixed by the magical hands of Dick Bradsell. So when I say that Alex Epstein is to shampoo what Dick Bradsell is to alcohol, you know I have no higher praise. I like my cocktails like I like my men: thoughtful, intelligent, well-balanced and effective – and now I like my shampoo that way too!
Concoction Shampoo has an RRP of £14 (base + 2 shots), Creme de Concoction conditioner has an RRP of £16. Total Bargain. My Concoction shampoo has been used as often as needed since March and I still have nearly half a bottle left. Buying both at £30 will set me back no more than £5 per month, and I was easily spending that on fruitless purchases of low-budget brands.
Race down to Selfridges to choose and buy your Concoction in person – that way you get to smell all the bases. (The Lemon + Verbena base made my 8 year-old escort swoon with desire, and he is a sworn enemy of all shampoo). You’ll have to be fast though – Concoction is a pop-up (open for about one more week), and at the time of writing I have no idea where they will be appearing next.
Can’t get to Selfridges? Order online at the Concoction website: it’s fun to do, and I really don’t think you can make a mistake – every base is gorgeous, and it isn’t hard to choose which serums will suit.
If you are in town, why not celebrate finding the shampoo cocktail of your dreams by dropping into the bar at El Camion for a fabulous, glamorous drink? I love the deceptively innocuous soundingTwinkle, the YGB adores the pink and fluffy Jayne Mansfield – but with Devilishly Desirable Dick in charge of the bar? Everything’s delicious: experiment!