California Baby, You Suck

    I recently discovered that I am highly (annoyingly) allergic to fragrance. That means I had to go find new shampoo, body wash, shaving cream, hair goo, deodorant, laundry soap, lotion, lip balm, and makeup in order to continue with the state of hygiene to which I (and Husband) have become accustomed. (You probably don’t realize this, but fragrance is everything. I threw out about $50 worth of lipstick alone.) If I perchance use some hand soap fortified with fragrance, well… I itch from my nose to my collarbone plus a spot on each wrist. It’s incredibly uncomfortable and rather looks as though I have an enormous hickey just south of my jawbone. I prefer not to risk it and I’m going totally fragrance free from now on.

     I started my search for new fragrance free stuff at Target. Good old Target. Love Target. I found everything pretty quickly, but they let me down in the shampoo/conditioner department. At my Target, you can only get one kind of fragrance-free (not lightly scented, not scented for sensitive skin, not full of masking fragrance) shampoo and that is California Baby’s super-sensitive formula. Which is $8 for 8.5 oz. That is some damn expensive shampoo.

     The bottle has all kinds of lovely earthy feel-goody things on it about how the women who make it are mothers and want the best for their babies and for the planet. It’s biodegradable, made of natural ingredients that I can pronounce and have heard of. I thought I was making a good choice.

     The results, Gentle Reader, were disastrous. I hate that baby shampoos do not lather. The first real problem is this: my normally shiny thick hair felt as though I had smeared a pound of Crisco into my follicles, so dull and heavy were they. No amount of rinsing could help. No change in the amount provided relief and I am now stuck with $18 worth of shampoo I will never use.

     I wrote the company, sure to start out by saying I love their company’s ethic on sustainability and producing a good product, but alas, that I was not happy with my purchase and could they please let mek know if this is normal for the product to illicit such a response.

    That was six weeks ago and nary a word. No “Thanks for trying our product, sorry it didn’t work out, have some lotion.” Nothing. I find that very bad customer service and I hated the product to boot. Tell all your baby friends to stay away from California Babies. I say, California Baby, you suck.



  1. I am sorry that you had a bad experience with California Baby, but I am not sure that slamming them on the internet is reasonable. I am also someone who does not tolerate fragrance – I have Environmental Illness. I do like California Baby shampoo and conditioner. It does not make me sick and it is good for my dry hair.

    There are still so few products that are safe for those of us who need the non-smelly stuff I think that it would be unfortunate if we started attacking the companies who do make stuff we can use instead of just noting that not all products are ideal for each of us.

  2. Dear Michelle,

    I don’t think giving a thorough review of a product is slamming a company. I also said several nice things about them – I think a good environmental policy is great, for example. I also think if you need a specialty product like fragrace free stuff, then you should absolutely make your voice heard if you’re unhappy.

    I wrote a review of the product and my experience with the company. The first bit is just that – giving a review of the product. My review was more specific than most , and I think thus more helpful if you’re a company looking to make a better product – I don’t like that it doesn’t later. I don’t like the way it makes my hair feel. It’s too expensive. As a consumer who pays for such products, I expect a certain degree of usefulness from them. If the company were worth its product’s hefty prices they should take into consideration all the reviews of their products – not just the one that praise it.

    Also, you will notice my major problem with California Baby was its customer service. I wrote them, all totaled, three emails requesting information. I asked if this was normal? Should I expect this result from your product? No reply means to me that Califnornia Baby doesn’t care if I don’t like their product because enough other people do. I don’t care to deal with companies who don’t care to deal with me.

    Whole Foods is chock-full of fragrance free products that I love. My email explaining how much I like the shampoo I use was responded to – I said thanks, they said thanks for using our shampoo.

    If consumers continue to meekly accept everything we are handed without asking for what we want, how will we ever get what we need?

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