Reformulated: Kirkland Signature Shampoo and Conditioner

Costco reformulated Kirkland Signature Shampoo and Conditioner

We had a good run, Costco Kirkland Signature Shampoo and Conditioner. I’ve been using this duo since the TRESemme-induced hair loss I shared in January 2021, but alas – I’ve run afoul of a discontinuation-style issue.

This Again?

It isn’t a true discontinuation. Costco reformulated within the last year or so. I only just started using the new formula at the end of June because I was still working through my liter bottles of the previous formula.

I didn’t realize it was a reformulation (as opposed to just a packaging refresh) until three weeks ago. My hair started becoming a nightmare to wrangle again, symptomatic of overexposure to protein (everyone is different, you may never experience this!), but it didn’t click immediately.

Was it stress? No, that’s just a constant at this point. Eventually, I scrutinized the ingredients list on the new bottles – yep, go figure. The old formula had protein, but it was one of the last few ingredients – so there was less of a concentration of it. It doesn’t seem like my hair can’t deal with any, just either 1) high concentrations and/or 2) specific varieties. Alas, my hair is not tolerating the Costco Kirkland Signature Shampoo and Conditioner’s new formula well.

If it is still working well for you, GOOD! I still have faith in the product. This time, truly, I am the problem.

What Now?

I’m embracing the shampoo and conditioner bar I’d already been using a bit because they don’t give me problems. In fact, I really enjoy them. I’m using Pinkalicious and Wonderbar from Ethique, and I’ve almost used up the shampoo bar.

I have another bar I bought a while back from another brand (Superzero, I think – I haven’t looked at it in a while) that I will try eventually to see how it stacks up.

My hair is happy with Pinkalicious, which is a delicate, fresh, pink grapefruit-vanilla scent, and Wonderbar, which is a faint coconut scent, though! I am also happy that the fragrances are mild and don’t smell overly synthetically perfume-y – they don’t give me a headache (but Herbal Essences Rosehip, for example, does).

What is Protein Sensitivity in Hair?

If you’re wondering what I’m on about, I learned about this quirk about a decade ago when I was facing the same symptoms.

I’ve written about them here and here.

In the meantime, I’ve seen some cute, definitely very educated blogs with commentary that protein sensitivity for hair isn’t a thing. Look, I wish it weren’t. It is annoying to need to scrutinize haircare labels like food labels.

Naturally, they were trying to sell some woo-woo product.

Alternatives to Reformulated Kirkland Signature Shampoo and Conditioner

I can’t give you a, “dupe,” of the old Kirkland Signature Shampoo and Conditioner formula. I’m not investing the time or money into dupe hunting. We’re long past that willingness.

BUT I did like having a liquid handy if I’m in a rush. Maybe I’ll find myself letting go of that, “comfort.” I like reducing my plastic usage, after all, AND bars take up way less space in the shower than bottles. The biggest trade-off I find is that it takes a little longer to use the bars than conventional liquid products – but I find myself feeling okay about that.

If I decide I’ll feel better with a trusted liquid on hand, there are a few options to explore. For example, I recently saw that SheaMoisture has a protein-free, low-porosity option. For the volume of the product, it’s a bit more than I’d like to spend – but if I can’t find a drugstore variety my hair will be happy with, I’d give it a shot. Tea tree oil is a mixed bag for me – I don’t dislike it, but I don’t know that I want to smell it in my hair. I’ve never encountered faint tea tree fragrance, so you can appreciate the caution.

What About Dietary Protein?

For me, it doesn’t seem to make a difference, thankfully. Dietary protein – which is protein you consume via food – could influence growth, but it isn’t going to do anything to the hair that’s already grown out.

Topical protein via our hair products, such as our conditioners or treatments, however, will interact with the strand in a way that food won’t. The structure of my hair, and of other people’s hair who deal with this, doesn’t really seem to absorb the protein from the products. Instead, it builds up on the outside like armor and causes weird brittleness and misbehavior.

The Bottom Line

It’s barely about vanity at this point and more that I need my hair to not mutiny. My hair is typically quite well-behaved – until it is OD-ing on protein, at which point it becomes a brittle, furiously tangled, unmanageable mess with little other provocation.

I’m glad I had a trusted alternative on hand that I could switch to immediately.

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