There's a new line of haircare products created by Portland stylist Thad Grace of of Grace Salon, called Mada, which I've been using on my own hair for the past couple weeks. (Caveat for the religiously locavoric: the products themselves are manufactured in Canada.)

The essential challenge with marketing hair and beauty products is that there are too many on the market, and most of the decent ones are interchangeable. As someone who's had a lifelong fascination with beauty products, half the joy is just changing the scenery in my bathroom, trying something new every time. Something has to be downright life-altering to extract anything resembling brand loyalty. And as I've waded, happily fickle, through the many great products on the market guided by recommendations, promotions, and occasionally politics, my preferences are often defined just by what smells nice.

One of the side effects of this over-saturation of product options is that new products are left to the uphill challenge of attracting attention and distinguishing themselves from the fray. Mada has taken one such tactic with their shampoos, which come in spray form. The press materials that accompanied my samples reasoned, among other advantages, that the innovative spray bottle delivery would enable greater "accuracy." I have never in my post-No More Tears shampoo life suffered from inaccurate shampooing (even in my days of dyed-red, roots-only aiming), but I like a novel application of product as well as the next gal, and like I said I'm sympathetic to the need to differentiate.

That said, there's just no getting around the fact that this is a bad idea. It is simply impossible to spray a sufficient amount of shampoo on your head to get a decent lather without also inhaling a fair amount of the spray. The shampoo once applied performs perfectly well, but it just doesn't make sense that it should come at the cost of coughing on chemicals in the shower.


To be fair, the spray action in this photo is fancier than the normal pump bottle my sample came with, but if that's what makes all the difference, they might have included it.

I also tried a spray conditioner with SPF and a shine spray, the effects of both somewhat difficult to gauge, being that on the first couple applications I apparently over-applied, and my hair looked greasy, which scared me off of anything but the lightest spritz. (Note: the conditioner can be used in between washings on dry hair but is no stand-in for an oil absorbing powder.) The one product I absolutely love from Mada is the hydrating (non-spray!) conditioner:


This is whipped delightfully light, almost like a foam, and it instantly melts any tangles completely out of my long hair. I can run my fingers all the way through without it snagging in the shower, without any combing or pre-shower brushing, and I don't have to use gratuitous amounts of it to get the effect. It's awesome.

Another neat trick Mada has up its sleeve is that you can enter information on your hair type through a web site function called Mada for Me, where you plug in info about your hair type for product recommendations. Never mind that my relatively simple criteria (long, wavy, untreated) yielded no less than seven products—the joy of digitized customization still has not worn off since it was introduced in the makeup sections of drug stores when I was just a wee product obsessive, and it's easy enough to edit suggestions down to what you'll actually use.

Oh, and most important: the scent is one of the better ones. Find Mada online, and look for it at Grace Salon and others in the Northwest.