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Published February 15 2012

Thursday review: Elasticizer is indeed extreme on locks

If you buy

What: Philip Kingsley Elasticizer and Elasticizer Extreme

How much: $46

Available at: www.philipkingsley.com

At its best, my naturally curly hair can be a shiny mass of golden locks.

At its worst, it can be a hot mess.

In the past year or so, my hair has been at its best for roughly 43 minutes on one Saturday in late June.

Otherwise, it has been frizzy, unruly and as dry as a Garrison Keillor joke.

That’s been especially apparent lately, after months of being subjected to dry indoor heat and home hair-coloring.

So I was more than willing to try out Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer and Elasticizer Extreme – even though both sounded like an industrial-strength exercise gadget that could have been sold by Susan Sommers.

Instead, both are intensive, pre-shampoo, moisturizing treatments for dry, porous, overprocessed hair.

Philip Kingsley is a pretty reputable British company, which is best known for developing the Elasticizer treatment specifically for Audrey Hepburn. Oddly enough, namesake Kingsley also takes credit for the term, “bad hair day” on his website.

But that’s neither “hair” nor there. I couldn’t wait to try his treatments. Maybe, in the process of trying a product tailor-made for Audrey, I would develop an ectomorphic frame and a flair for wearing haute couture.

I liked the idea of a pre-shampoo treatment, as I remembered too well the heavy, sometimes super-greasy results yielded from the VO5 treatments of my youth.

And so I gamely tried the Elasticizer treatment, which was promoted as slightly less moisturizing than the extreme version. It involved working the silky cream through my wet hair, then covering it with a chic plastic shower cap for 10 to 20 minutes.

This did not really help me feel like Audrey.

But after shampooing and conditioning my hair again, I have to admit: This stuff seemed to work.

After one treatment, my hair looked better and felt softer than it had in years.

The curl pattern was a little more relaxed – which I didn’t mind. It still had plenty of volume at the roots. And, overall, my locks boasted less frizz and more shine.

The instructions urged me to try the treatment again, claiming that frequent use would yield even better results.

But I actually didn’t experience this at all.

The second time around, I tried the Elasticizer Extreme – and it was simply too much.

It straightened out the curl pattern just enough so that tendrils stuck out at odd angles, and my hair felt more weighed-down and lifeless.

After my third bout with the Elasticizer, my hair seemed to be drowning in oil. For the first time since sixth grade – when hormones and tween hygiene sabotaged my beauty ritual – my hair felt dull and oily.

A closer inspection of the ingredients helped explain this. The formulations contain heavy-duty moisturizers like olive oil and castor oil.

That may have been enough for Audrey, who subsisted on pastries while standing in front of Tiffany’s.

But for a regular earthling like me, this Elasticizer was simply too extreme.