The Complete Guide to Alterna Hair Care: Are These Prestige Products Worth Their Price?

Alterna burst onto the luxury hair care scene in 1997 with a bold mission: crafting professional-quality products with clean ingredients, ethical standards and skincare technology for transformational results.

Over 20 years later, the brand offers best selling collections for all hair needs. But how well do these prestige products deliver? Which ones really shine? Who is the Alterna woman?

In this in-depth review, we investigate every angle of Alterna‘s high-end hair care lines. From the genesis of their hero caviar extract and strict formulation standards to testing five top sellers head-to-head against competitors.

Keep reading for the definitive analysis every woman needs before investing in Alterna‘s lustrous locks promise. The results may surprise you!

Brand Background: A Luxury Hair Pioneer is Born

Alterna entered the beauty world when high-end haircare was mostly an afterthought by big brands. Seeing an unmet need, founders Michael Shaun Corby and David Cotterill launched with a revolutionary concept: a prestige range harnessing skincare technology to transform hair from drab to fabulously healthy.

Powered by Swiss Glacial Lake water and other "hair-healing" ingredients like avocado oil, Alterna‘s debut products impressed stylists and consumers alike for delivering pure, salon-quality locks.

The young brand took an early lead in product purity by banning parabens, mineral oils and other potentially harmful chemicals – controversial for the time but now industry standard.

In 2014, Alterna caught the attention of Henkel, the German consumer goods titan behind Schwarzkopf. Acquiring Alterna added a clinical, botanically-based hair expert to their beauty arsenal.

Today Alterna remains an innovator across categories like:

  • Vegan and sustainability – My Hair My Canvas line
  • Anti-pollution – Caviar Anti-Aging adds antioxidants
  • Scalp health – Bamboo line detoxifies and stimulates
  • Blurring lines with skincare – Peptide-infused styling collection

With over 20 unique lines addressing every hair frustration, Alterna‘s mission holds strong: "Luxurious, clinically proven haircare that transforms."

But does Alterna deliver white glove treatment for hair or mostly empty promises? We investigate seven beloved bestsellers to find out.

Alterna‘s Hero Ingredient: Explaining the Caviar Extract Craze

The linchpin of Alterna‘s success – and arguably the entire luxury hair category – is a slimy, salt-cured fish egg: caviar extract.

Alterna scientists harness nutrients from sturgeon roe like Vitamin B6, amino acids and essential minerals. But they don‘t stop there. The brand‘s proprietary processing concentrates the good stuff through advanced encapsulation methods.

This makes Alterna‘s caviar act like tiny time-release capsules. As you massage the products in, nutrient beads burst and penetrate strands for nourishment that lasts.

But what does this pricey additive actually do for hair? Studies confirm caviar elements have legit repairing and fortifying properties. Benefits include:

  • Less Breakage – Amino acids like cysteine strengthen internal bonds
  • Smooth Cuticles – Vitamin B6 and magnesium seal the outer layer
  • Thicker Strands – Proteins give building blocks for growth
  • More Shine – Essential fatty acids increase light reflection

Now keep in mind Alterna doesn‘t pack jars full of whole caviar. The amounts are microencapsulated extracts blended into their ionically and pH balanced formulas.

But this unique elixir combined with botanical science gives Alterna hero ingredient bragging rights. That savvy marketing glams up an otherwise boring haircare pitch!

So how much does the addition of caviar extract impact your actual results versus using professional-quality products without?

To find out, we pitted 5 Alterna bestsellers featuring caviar against comparable luxury shampoos and conditioners. We tested over 8 weeks analyzing:

  • Manageability, softness, shine
  • Prevention of split ends over time
  • Noticeable changes in body, movement and volume

Here‘s the product contenders:

Alterna Caviar Line Competitor
Anti-Aging Shampoo Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Shampoo
Anti-Aging Conditioner Olaplex No.5 Conditioner
Restructuring Bond Repair Shampoo Nexxus Keraphix Shampoo
Restructuring Bond Repair Conditioner Redken Extreme Conditioner
CC Cream Moroccanoil Treatment

Now let‘s analyze each caviar-powered pair head-to-head and see if Alterna delivers extra luxury.

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Shampoo vs Briogeo Repair Shampoo

Right away you‘ll notice differences in the formulas – Alterna packs a hefty list of oils, extracts and proprietary complexes. This includes not only crab roe but black currant, karatine, cytokines and their "Age-Control Complex."

Briogeo keeps it simple with aloe, coconut oil, shea butter and their star ingredient, a biotechnological protein.

In the shower, lather differed too. Alterna felt fuller while Briogeo stayed more spread out. But after rinsing came the real measure: how our hair felt.

Both delivered impressive softness and nourishment. The Alterna group noticed slightly more moisture while Briogeo felt gently cleaned.

The true test would come with time. Could Alterna‘s cocktail of nutrients strengthen vulnerable hair and stave off aging?

After 8 weeks, our split end analysis showed moderate improvements in both groups – a win for at-home repairing ability. However, the difference was not significant enough to justify Alterna‘s 2x price.

Our hair enjoyed the science-backed extra pampering but didn‘t necessitate it for the anti-aging claims. In the end, we‘d recommend the Alterna indulgence for a special treat but not as a monthly necessity.

The Winner: With nearly identical strengthening results at half the price, we crown the Briogeo Don‘t Despair Repair Shampoo as delivering the better value.

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Conditioner vs Olaplex No.5

Moving onto conditioning properties, we pitted Alterna against a gold standard for salon-level reconstruction – Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintainer.

You‘ll spot familiar ingredients like Alterna‘s crab roe and Briogeo‘s bond-building protein in Olaplex‘s Smartbond polymer.

But the similarities ended there. Out of the bottle, Olaplex‘s creamy formula fully saturated our hair shaft while the Alterna struggled to evenly coat stands.

However, Alterna felt clearly richer, almost like a hair mask. Olaplex delivered noticeable slip but overall seemed lighter.

Yet after rinsing, our hair spoke volumes: The Olaplex group enjoyed visibly smoother, shiner strands with softened split ends. Alterna hair also improved but to a moderately lesser degree.

Why such a difference when ingredients aim for similar results? We theorize the Olaplex formula better enables penetration. Hair was left nourished and supple for days while Alterna‘s effects diminished faster.

We think the takeaway is clear here: Hero ingredients matter far less than how effectively they are formulated to enter hair structure. For a 10-minute conditioner, we‘ll take transformative results like Olaplex over Alterna‘s thicker feel but fleeting impacts.

The Winner: With superior smoothing effects that lasted longer between washes, Olaplex No.5 Conditioner earns our winning vote.

Alterna Caviar Bond Repair vs Nexxus Keraphix

Moving onto shampoos dedicated to bonding and repair, would Alterna‘s caviar extract outperform salon brand Nexxus?

At first, differences seemed mostly superficial: Alterna touting Swiss apple stem cells, Nexxus highlighting their own Marine Concentrate plus ceramides and lipids.

Lather and application felt on par during washing. But upon drying, the Alterna crew noticed higher body, bounce and movement versus Nexxus‘ results staying relatively flat.

However, the Nexxus formula delivered even smoothing and notably stronger protection against heat styling damage.

Both groups saw decreased split end breakage over 8 weeks although Nexxus pulled ahead slightly.

Why the mixed outcome? Nexxus‘ choice of ceramides, amino acids and antioxidants likely enables deeper strengthening. But Alterna‘s nutrient diversity appears beneficial for volume via thickening of the actual fiber.

For those frustrated by limp locks, Alterna provides a lift while Nexxus overtakes on mending. Considering the minor price difference, either makes a sound investment for fortifying vulnerable hair.

The Winner: Since reinforcements against breakage serve as the ultimate sign of improved hair health, the Nexxus Keraphix Shampoo comes out on top. But those seeking fuller movement get a win with Alterna.

Alterna Caviar Bond Repair Conditioner vs Redken Extreme

Given Alterna‘s middling performance so far, could their Bond Repair conditioner beat a category classic: Redken Extreme?

Redken‘s star ingredient needs no introduction: protein powerhouse keratin. The formula also wisely incorporates ceramides to bind moisture in.

Compared to Alterna‘s elixirs like caviar bulb extract and anti-aging complexes, Redken sticks to the basics albeit masterfully crafted.

In application, Redken wowed us with velvety texture that instantly melded into strands to impressively smooth and fortify. Compared to other lines, the effects felt remarkably instant yet lasting.

While Alterna Conditioner performed decently alone, alternating with non-Alterna shampoos seemed to downgrade results.

This suggests the Alterna collection functions best within its intricate ecosystem rather than mixing and matching.

Meanwhile, swapping Redken with various shampoos didn‘t impede its hardworking talents. Protein-weakened hair lapped up its reparative gifts immediately out of the gates.

The Winner: True to its legendary reputation, the Redken Extreme Strength Builder Conditioner secures the winning title with noticeably faster repair results.

Alterna Caviar CC Cream vs Moroccanoil

For our final face-off, how would Alterna‘s popular multitasking CC Cream compare to the gold standard of luxury oils – Moroccanoil Treatment?

Out of the bottle, Alterna markets itself as a 10-in-1 dream cream addressing everything from dryness to color protection. Their formula reveals a skillful balance of scientific and natural blends.

However, upon application we weren‘t quite sure what to make of it. The lotion-gel consistency aimed to smooth but ended up falling short of expectations.

Meanwhile, the Moroccanoil astonished with instant saturation and sensorial delight. From the signature orange blossom scent to cashmere soft feel, this oil oozes extravagance.

While both products tamed flyaways decently over our trial period, the Moroccanoil exceeded as a lavish finisher, adding sublime luminosity even to color-treated hair. It brings sexy sheen worthy of a hair commercial.

Alterna‘s attempts came across vague and lackluster by comparison. As an inexpensive mask or conditioning primer, it performs respectably. But standing next to Moroccanoil exposes it as out of its league.

The Winner: By miles, Moroccanoil Treatment remains the gold standard hair oil that instantly uplifts looks and vibes.

Final Verdict: Is Alterna Worth the Investment?

Analyzing a long term sampling of Alterna best sellers forced us to scrutinize every element contributing to high-performance hair care.

On prestige branding and clean formulations, Alterna absolutely delivers. Details like Swiss glacial elements, high-tech peptides and certified organic extracts satisfy expectations for a luxury brand. Packaging feels suitably luxe as well.

Their passionate investment into evaluating and improving hair structure also shines through proprietary complexes like CaviCyc and Age-Control. (Note: If unfamiliar ingredients worry you, run them by your stylist.)

We walked away confident in Alterna‘s safety and ethical standards. They go further than most in product purity and corporate responsibility.

However, on overall quality relative to price point – Alterna left room for improvement. Their hero ingredient caviar extract underwhelmed next to competitor‘s formulas that simply worked better for similar goals.

While Alterna checks the boxes for scientific marketing, some products don‘t stand out enough performance-wise once you remove the bells and whistles.

Bottom line: If your budget allows for premium hair care experimentation, Alterna makes for an excellent indulgence. Certain products like their volume or smoothing lines may justify the cost.

But realize you can achieve similar – and occasionally better – strengthening and repairing results for less. Look to salon staples like Olaplex, Pureology, Redken or Briogeo for functional solutions that won‘t burn through your wallet quite as quickly.

5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Alterna Hair Care

While some Alterna offerings didn‘t dramatically outperform the competition, many shoppers and stylists still swear by their transformations.

Here are insider tips to maximize the brand‘s beautifying potential for your unique hair woes:

1. Buy the system. Notice how standalone Alterna items sometimes underwhelmed but showed improvements when used within their line? Stick to one range for intended synergy.

2. Alternate with protein to strengthen bonds. Use their mask or a Olaplex/Redken treatment between.

3. Only apply conditioning products mid-lengths down to prevent limp roots. Focus leave-ins on ends only.

4. Boost potency by leaving on masks 5+ minutes under heat cap if hair needs dramatic rehabilitation.

5. Consult the hairstylists on Alterna‘s site to precisely match products to your hair frustrations. An expert can help ensure you‘re using the right prescription.

Did you find this investigative review helpful? Has Alterna delivered beautiful locks for you or missed the mark? Let‘s exchange hair secrets in the comments!

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