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Test Drive: Free Your Mane, an eco-conscious haircare line with major scent appeal

May 18, 2011 |  7:20 am

With some haircare lines, it's all about the feel. You easily overlook flaws like generic fragrances, watery consistencies and ho-hum packaging because these products leave your tresses feeling smoother than a kitten's belly.

With Free Your Mane, a new eco-conscious haircare collection from fashion and beauty veteran Israel Segal, it's all about the smell. "Bois Tabac" to be exact, a unisex woody-cum-tobacco fragrance Segal dreamed up with a European perfumer.

It's an intoxicating scent — akin to perfumes popular in the era of television's "Dynasty," such as Shalimar and Obsession. But whether such a super-strong scent belongs in a haircare line is, well, highly debatable.

Because whether you love or loathe Bois Tabac (and I'm guessing you'll love it, at least at first), you will smell it. Like, all day. It will become the defining smell in your car and on your hands. In line at Starbucks, people will gush over how good your noggin smells.

And some people love that. Personally, I prefer not to infringe on people's olfactory senses.

And, in fact, you will smell it before you put it in your hair. Currently sitting on my bathroom counter, the collection of six products have created a cloud of musky odeur in my bathroom. So much so, my husband has asked me to "bag those up."

Although the strength of the collection's scent is questionable, the efficacy of the formulations is not. 

Free of sulfates, petroleum and parabens — and packed with hydrating botanical oils — the Shampoo and Daily Detangling Conditioner left my hair feeling clean and soft but not "coated." Perfect for my super-fine hair, which is easily weighed down by too-heavy conditioners.

The line's Hydrating Hair Masque, a leave-in/rinse-out conditioning product, did just that — but I predict gals with thick and curly hair will go crazy for it.

I smoothed a bit of the peach-hued Restorative Hair Oil onto my dry-ish ends in the morning and felt a difference hours later when I ran my hands through my hair — almost as though I'd just sat through a fresh cut. Bravo.

The collection, which is priced from $14.95 to $24.95, is sold on its own website and will also debut on next week.

Segal, who got his start in the Agnes B. store in New York, said, "I’ve always been a ‘product junkie’ and ... I was always on the lookout for the best of the new products. I was feeding my twins organic food but couldn't find a single healthy, effective hair product for them, so I had to create one. I didn't want to use any ingredients that would show up in a cancer tumor in 30  years."

I'll tip my (intoxicatingly fragranced) hat to that. 

-- Emili Vesilind

Photo: The Free Your Mane product line. Credit: Free Your Mane