The mestiza muse

As I Am Olive & Tea Tree Oil Co-Wash Product Review

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Verna Meachum

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As I Am Olive & Tea Tree Cowash is a cleansing conditioner specifically designed and formulated for naturally curly hair. Its formulation comprises a blend of anti-dandruff actives, essential oils, and hair detangling agents. The product targets to improve the quality of sensitive scalp and relieves itchiness & scalp discomfort. It contains anti-fungal actives that are added to combat seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. The product is formulated as a “Co-Wash” suggesting it is a conditioner + cleanser. It cleans hair, removes excess of sebum and dirt particles, while detangling curly hair at the same time.  So, it’s a double-action game.

Let’s analyze more details on its formulation, a few key ingredients, and how do they interact synergistically to perform the job.

Chemistry of Formulation

Zinc Pyrithione (1.0% Active ingredient)

Zinc Pyrithione (ZPT) is an anti-fungal & anti-bacterial agent commonly incorporated in anti-dandruff and sensitive scalp products. ZPT is a coordination compound where zinc is chelated with pyrithione centers. Dandruff is induced by the growth of fungi (fungus Malassezia furfur and Malassezia globosa). It starts with the growth of microorganisms resulting in red patches on the scalp and finally the formation of scales. With time, the scalp condition gets worst, the size of scales increases, and consumers may suffer from severe discomfort. ZPT is a time-tested remedy to such problems. It improves scalp condition and minimizes scale level at the scalp surface. ZPT also addresses itchiness, redness, and other related dermatitis problems.

Piroctone Olamine

Piroctone Olamine is another active anti-fungal ingredient in the formulation. It is a mild amine that inhibits the growth of fungi at the scalp and thus inhibits the whole process of microbial contamination. By this mechanism, it relives inflamed cells and reduces irritation. Its repeated application lowers down the desquamation and flake formation.

So, the Olive Oil & Tea Tree formulation contains two anti-fungal ingredients both are proven to act independently to address the dandruff problem.


Betaine is a multi-functional natural and green ingredient added as a moisture-carrier. It is a natural chemical compound obtained from beetroot molasses. It greatly improves the water retention capacity of epidermal cells. As we mentioned earlier, the scalp may have scales and itchiness due to microbial growth. Betaine molecules deliver water molecules to the inflamed cells of the scalp which helps in balancing the moisture level. This addresses the problem of dryness and minimizes the magnitude of redness. Besides this, betaine lowers the irritation potential of surfactants which also plays a vital role in improving scalp quality.

Oil-Based Moisturizers

The product formulation enlists Olive Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Peppermint Oil & Coconut Oil. Natural oils are a traditional recipe to improve scalp health. They help in preserving moisture levels as well as prevent any further oxidation of cells. We know, hydrophobic ointments prevent the growth of microbes at wounds and accelerate the healing process. Olive oil contains antioxidants and polyphenols which may prevent undesired oxidation reaction triggered under the influence of microbial growth. Tea tree oil & Peppermint oil stimulate cellular activity at the scalp and helps in cellular turn over and their anti-inflammatory activity is proven. Therefore they are added to play a vital role in the formulation.

Scalp Soothing Ingredients

The formulation contains multiple natural extracts (Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, Linseed seed extract, Origanum vulgare leaf extract & Menthol), that are incorporated to bring a soothing and calming effect. Scalp responds more profoundly to the products applied. Sensitive and inflamed skin is more responsive to products applied, especially surfactants. Therefore formulators often blend skin soothing agents to have a cooling and relaxing effect.

Aloe leaf juice offers multiple functionalities; in this particular formulation, it helps combat inflammation. It contains essential minerals and starch which nourishes scalp cells and stimulate their regeneration. Menthol delivers cooling effect and minimizes irritation potential. Its cooling sensation improves product aesthetic feel.


Ceramides are ultra-long chain organic compounds of fatty acid waxes. The carbon chain length varies. They are found naturally in human skin stratum corneum being part of the lipid bilayer. They facilitate the penetration of active ingredients across the bi-layer. Being waxy, they prevent loss of water from the scalp surface thus facilitating the healing process of inflamed cells. Ceramides are also known to lubricate the hair shaft, and their penetration enhances the mechanical strength of hair fiber.

Anionic Surfactants (Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate)

The formulation contains a number of anionic surfactants added to offer cleansing action. All of the above listed are mild, non-sulfate anionic surfactants, which ensure no scalp discomfort. They remove the excess of sebum and eliminate any dust particulates present.

Cationic Cleansers (Detangling agents)

The formulation contains two cationic surfactants; cetrimonium chloride, and stearamidopropyl dimethylamine. Both surfactants are added to perform cleansing action. Just like anions, they remove the excess of sebum and eliminate any dust particulates. Besides their detergency, they detangle hair fibers, improve hair cuticular surface, and reduce fiber to fiber friction. They also act as anti-static agents to decrease the static charge build-up. They help in improving the overall ease of combing, brushing, styling and manageability.


Humectants are water-attracting chemical compounds. They attract water from the surrounding and keep the scalp & hair well moisturized. Keeping in mind that dry scalp requires such ingredients to improve the cellular water level. Glycerin is the preferred choice for this role as it has a higher and superior water holding capacity.

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