Every new year I resolve to be a bit better about taking time and putting some effort into my daily beauty routine. Managing to switch up my daily hair styles is part of this, yet always feels the most frustrating to me. This year I’ve decided to take small, meaningful steps to discover hair products and tools that work for me and not stress over my lack of hair styling skills.
You know those brands that seem to have it all? Highly effective, pure formulas, sexy-simplistic design, and a cult following? I’d say that is what Josh Rosebrook’s hair and skin care products were for me. A gorgeous natural/organic brand I had heard so much about but realized I’d never experienced for myself. As my quest for cleaner and greener haircare evolved, I made known my curiosity in the shampoo and conditioner that everyone in the green beauty world seemed to be gushing over.
On the day before another brutal snowstorm was to hit, I found myself tromping through a frigid Manhattan to Midtown East, the grounds for which the United Nations buildings operate and where few people are caught laboriously wandering around. My mission in these parts had nothing to do with international affairs, but rather on the affairs of my hair…
Quietly tucked between 1st and 2nd Avenues among the confines of bright storefronts, exotic eating establishments and apartment buildings guarded by doormen, lies Le Salon NYC, one of the city’s few hair salons that offer organic haircuts and treatments. Founded in 2008, Le Salon NYC approaches haircare with a holistic and comprehensive outlook featuring organic treatments for healthier, natural-looking hair.
When I entered the narrow entranceway at Le Salon, I was greeted with a wash of energy and warmth from Ashraf, the salon’s hair stylist and lead hair colorist, Vincent. I took in the small, bright salon where pop-culture icons of the past beamed demurely at me from the walls. I noticed I wasn’t irritated by any strong chemical fumes nor the usual salon stresses inside Le Salon. In fact, everyone seemed very Zen. Ashraf offered me a hot cup of tea and ushered me into a salon chair where we began to talk hair.
I’d come in knowing I needed a trim and curious about an organic treatment for my growing gray hairs. I’ve always dyed my hair a dark, natural brown to conceal my genetic gray hairs that plague my roots with conventional drugstore dyes or harsh salon treatments.
As Ashraf ran her expert fingers through my locks, closely inspecting it, she agreed my hair would benefit from a full-head organic coloring treatment. Vincent explained to me that most in-salon and at-home hair products contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and ammonia that further damage the structure of hair and can irritate the scalp, eyes and skin.
Every treatment offered at Le Salon uses Organic Salon Systems, a line of color, care, control and curl systems. Ranging from full-head coloring to perms to a basic hair wash, Organic Salon Systems feature products with ingredients that are certified organic, cruelty free, vegan and free of ammonia, parabens and thioglycolates. The less toxic properties of these products do not leave strong chemical fumes, have less irritating symptoms on hair and scalp and offer healthier results for hair.
First, I had my hair washed and massaged with Organic Care Systems shampoo and conditioner. These sweet smelling products were very hydrating and helped to nourish my hair before my color treatment. Next, I sat under a scorching hot hair dryer for 20 minutes until my hair dried. Vincent explained that the Organic Color System products are dependent on heat.
While conventional hair dyes use harsh and toxic chemicals like ammonia to open the hair fibers allowing color molecules to permeate, Organic Color System dyes utilize an alkaline of less toxic levels that increases the pH of the hair to gently open and soften the hair cuticles. Using heat on the hair after the color treatment allows the cuticles to expand and capture the color while letting the hair cool closes the cuticle to lock in the color.
Vincent expertly mixed and applied a dark, natural brown colored dye to my hair. Normally when my hair is being dyed I’m squirming in my seat from the burning sensations and horrible smells. Due to this safer, less toxic formula I didn’t feel any irritation on my scalp and it was the first time I felt comfortable getting my hair dyed. After all my hair was covered in dye, it was time to sit under the hair dryer for another 20 minutes and then cool for 20 minutes.
“Organic Color Systems products are different because they do not contain ammonia, parabens or sulfates, which means they are gentle on your hair, your body and the environment. Available in 64 beautiful and intermixable color options; Organic Color Systems offers gentle hair color without sacrificing style. Organic Salon Systems high-performance hair products contain natural ingredients such as chamomile, aloe vera, sunflower oil and vitamins”
I was in awe of how even and dark the new color looked on my hair. Absolutely no more grays! My hair also felt very silky and soft, not damaged or battered like it normally feels after similarly long hair treatments. With my newly colored hair, Ashraf picked up her tools and preceded to razor my hair into a gorgeous new trim, styling my hair to the side. Before my trim, Ashraf commented that my current hairstyle had been hiding my features and dulling my beauty. Her saying is that “one’s hairstyle is like the frame of a painting, it must complement the shape of your head as well as your facial features.” I definitely saw a new side of myself when I looked at myself in the mirror after my color and new trim.
After about 3 hours total (my appointment for a wash, cut and full-head color treatment would normally be split into more than 1 appointment) I felt satisfied with my experience. To maintain my new Organic Color dyed hair, I was advised to use the Organic Salon Systems shampoo and conditioner whenever washing my hair and to let each product soak in the hair with the conditioner for exactly 5 minutes in the shower, maintain the color’s vibrancy. While Organic Color System hair dyes are not totally chemical-free, I don’t believe hair dye could ever be all that natural, it may be as effective if not better than conventional dyes I have used. Long-lasting, beautiful colors and non-irritation, I think for future, I’d switch over to this type of hair color over my usual drugstore and salon coloring.
Days after my appointment, my hair color still looked perfect without any grey hairs peeking through and my hair felt soft and silky.Usually after I dye my hair, I’m scratching my scalp like a maniac from the irritating chemicals and preventing the color from lasting. My Organic Color Systems experience left me feeling as if nothing had been done to my hair and I was surprised at how painless the coloring was before and after the treatment. Though these treatments are a bit pricier than your normal run of the mill salon, you should know you’re paying for something beyond average for hair care. Since it’s not everyday I treat my hair like this, I think I’d definitely save up and go for organic hair treatments in the future.
Le Salon NYC is a wonderful hair salon for anyone with looking to avoid unnecessary exposure to chemicals, has sensitive skin or curious about less toxic treatments to maintain healthy, beautiful hair. The hair stylists are enthusiastic about helping you and really take the time to cater to your needs. Le Salon NYC is a friendly, accommodating salon where you can achieve beautiful looks and maintain the health of your hair.
Have you ever had an organic hair treatment done? Would you try out an organic hair salon? What is your trip to the hair salon like?
Find out more about Le Salon NYC on their website, book an appointment or follow them on Facebook.
*Services were provided compliments of Le Salon NYC for my consideration. All opinions are my 100% honest and my own.
It has been a rough journey on the way to cleaning up my hair washing habits. My hair is stick straight and very fine so I don’t really do much in the ways of styling it, I’ve always been content with just leaving it alone. It has always been oily-prone and grows pretty fast. In the summer, I started trying out a couple green hair products I’d found at Whole Foods. In addition to switching products, I also knew changing my washing routine from shampooing every night to only 2-3 times a week would account to healthier, greener locks.
At the time, my hair was freaking out from the initial products I tried and I was too. My hair was not adjusting well to my new green, clean routine nor to the transition of products. After going through bottles of clean shampoos that made my hair feel gummy and grease-central for days on end, I’d nearly thrown in the towel on finding affordable, accessible and clean shampoo. However, I gave it one more try and picked up the Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo since I’d heard great things about Acure Organics.
Instantly, after the first wash, my hair felt rejuvenated and silky smooth. The shampoo lathers slightly but not as much as in shampoos that have Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) in them. When running my fingers through my hair or blow drying, I didn’t experience strands of tacky or oily locks and felt that my hair was back to its normal self. This shampoo leaves my hair feeling nourished and clean without causing it to feel dry or limp and gives me good volume too.
Acure Organics Shampoo putting my toxic, value-sized hair products to shame in the shower.
The refreshing, aromaticminty-lemongrass scent is enough to make you meditate in the shower and you can truly feel the gentle, clarifying formula at work. I like that Acure Organics describes this as an everyday shampoo that’s also safe for color treated hair like mine. Even though I’ve transitioned into not washing my hair everyday, it’s nice to know that when I do creep back to my old habits, this shampoo doesn’t further freak my hair out but instead, treats and maintains it. Here’s how Acure Organics describes this shampoo:
This clarifying shampoo is gentle enough for everyday use for all hair types. Promotes shiny, healthy, clean hair. Organic Argan Oil, Argan Stem Cells + CoQ10 help support hair keratin and strengthen the follicle connection. Organic Avocado Oil provides vitamin B12 and moisture while lemongrass cleanses and clarifies. Safe for color treated hair.
I like that Acure Organics uses simple, effective ingredients and all their formulas are fair trade, natural and organic. See more about their product ingredients here. The brand has become a favorite of mine for their accessible (available at Whole Foods markets), affordable and beneficial products. Not to mention, Acure Organic’s awesome ethical, transparent and environmentally-friendly commitments.The brand’s motto is: “For Your Skin, For The Planet”.
I also like the soft, 8oz squeezable packaging as opposed to a hard, shampoo bottle because it takes up less space in my shower and is lightweight and easy to travel with. Acure Organics also offers larger sizes (24oz) of their shampoos if you really love the results and want to save money. (Unfortunately, I don’t think they sell a larger size of the Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo.)
I’d recommend the Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo to anyone who might be starting the transition to green haircare as it’s a simple, effective product that makes switching over a little bit easier without compromising quality or price.
There are always good promotions for Acure Organics products at Whole Foods markets (I was able to buy this shampoo at a small discount from my Whole Foods) or you can find the products online at many retailers. Spirit Beauty Lounge also sells a duo of this shampoo with the accompanying conditioner for $19.99 online.
Burdock is a biennial plant, also classified as a common weed, that is most recognized for its stout growth and leaves containing prickly burrs. Due to its ability to grow relatively tall, the burdock plant (scientific name: Arctium lappa) has deep roots that are brownish green in color. The root, leaf and seed are used to make medicine and are sometimes eaten as food. Burdock root extract is typically used in skincare and hair products. This herb is native to Europe and Asia though is naturalized throughout North America. In traditional Chinese medicine, the burdock root was commonly used to treat many illnesses.
Burdock contains chemicals that might have activity against bacteria and inflammation. Burdock root consists of carbohydrates, volatile oils, plant sterols, tannins, and fatty oils which explain the plant’s healing properties. Burdock root has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and demulcent effects on the body and skin. In skincare, burdock root is added to many facial steams, cleansers, lotions, toners and salves. The properties of burdock root help effectively treat skin ailments such as acne, eczemaandpsoriasis.
Burdock root is also used externally to treat painful joints, inflammation and often thought to purify the blood. Burdock root is also added to shampoos, conditioners and hair rinses especially for its beneficial effect on dandruff.
Recent studies have shown that burdock root also contains phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin, all powerful antioxidants. Various cultures believe eating the leaves or roots of the burdock plant help to cleanse the bloodstream, prevent cancer, to treat high blood pressure and other common illnesses and to keep the body healthy.
Burdock root has also achieved culinary recognition due to its many health benefits when ingested. The plant contains dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, amino acids and is low in calories. Common in Japanese and Korean cuisine, burdock root leaves can be strained for tea, root or leaves added to a soup or drink, or the roots are boiled and braised like a potato.
I have to make up for lost Au Natural Factual Fridays, sorry! Today’s ingredient is Jojoba Oil.
Jojoba oil is a liquid wax derived from seeds of the Jojoba plant (simmondsia chinesis), a shrub that grows in dry regions of the southwestern US (Arizona and California) and in northern Mexico. Jojoba oil is increasingly used in makeup, skincare and hair products as a natural ingredient due to its emollient properties and similarities to the sebum produced in our own skin which makes it moisturizing.
Jojoba plant with seeds
The shelf life of jojoba oil is much longer than synthetic ingredients as it also has natural fungicide properties. Also used in its pure state, jojoba oil is a natural skin soother and can be applied directly to the skin to aid in acne, psoriasis, sunburn and chapped skin.
Pure jojoba oil is also a great natural hair product used for moisturizing, conditioning and smoothing hair. Some people believe jojoba oil can decrease balding as it also unclogs hair follicles, which may encourage the regrowth of new hair.
Jojoba oil is known as a natural alternative to petroleum jelly and its nasty derivatives like cetyl alcohol. It’s a more sustainable alternative to petroleum jelly since it’s derived from plants rather than fossil fuel, plus there no whales harmed in the process! (And whale blubber isn’t included in your products.)
Some popular organic products which contain jojoba oil (of some form)as an ingredient:
If you’re like me, an average 20-something-consumer trying to be healthy in the midst of false advertising, empty product promises and sneaky trade secrets, you didn’t question any personal care products on the local drugstore shelves nor truly thought about the ingredients because after all, if they can be sold to the public then they’re safe, right?
So very wrong, but my old mindset and educating myself on this topic truly showed me how social awareness is at a shocking low when it comes to knowing more about harmful ingredients in personal care products and why our government and brands we trust have ignored the facts and not taken sufficient action. Just accepting what is placed on shelves is not enough. Reading great books like No More Dirty Looks, listening to health experts and researching ingredients is an eye-opener.
I suggest everyone do their own research and self-education because it is not enough to just expect our lawmakers and billions of profit-seeking companies to control our consumerism. YOU can make your own decisions, so make some healthier ones.
Which brings me to this Friday’s Au Natural Factual: Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) & Sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES).
Queen Bey’s infamous locks: having hair like Beyonce’s is probably not a result of totally natural products.
Did you know that your scalp is the most absorbent part of your body? All of those hair products that you use to tame and clean your mane seep right into your scalp, into your bloodstream and most of those chemicals (though a percentage will be excreted) stay in your body for good.
Two harmful ingredients in many personal care products are Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) and Sodium lauryl ether sufalte (SLES) and because they are so commonly used are often referred to as sulfates. These 2 sulfates are classified as surfactants or detergents (compounds which lower the surface tension between liquids or between liquids and solids) and are the 2 most commonly found sulfates in personal care products like shampoo and conditioner for their cleansing and emulsifying properties and because they are relatively inexpensive to use. SLS and SLES can be found in many other products that foam and cleanse such as, toothpaste, body wash, soap and exfoliators.
Due to their harsh penetration properties, SLS and SLES can strip hair and skin of moisture and are common eye, skin and scalp irritants and can also result in acne, rashes and canker sores. Sulfates are also endocrine irritants and can be a possible carcinogen after repeated and prolonged exposure. The biggest concern with SLS and SLES is that when blended with other chemicals (included in your personal care products), they can produce hazardous by-products. Two contaminants that can blend with sulfates and are of the most concern are 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide. 1,4 dioxane is a known carcinogen with research citing it is also toxic to the respiratory system and an irritant to skin, eyes and/or lungs. Ethylene oxide has also been classified as a carcinogen and more specifically, a developmental and nervous system toxin.
Like every chemical and the possible risks, we should try to avoid products with potentially harmful chemicals like SLS and SLES.
There are many good organic and natural hair products in specific, that do not include SLS and SLES in their formulation.
The more we use products with these chemicals, the more we are stripping and corroding our hair and skin of its moisture and natural state.
Avoiding sulfates can reduce your reliance on harmful aftereffects and will result in healthier, vibrant hair and skin.
I love the products the ladies of No More Dirty Looks list for hair that are sulfate-free and are good for your hair! Check out some of their ideas here
By now we’ve all heard about argan oil one way or another as it’s having quite a moment in the natural and mainstream beauty communities.
Known for its many nutritive, cosmetic and medicinal properties, argan oil is derived from the kernels of the argan tree, which is endemic to Morocco. This is why the oil is now also widely known as Moroccan oil. For centuries, the people of southwestern Morocco specifically, the Berber tribe, have traditionally used argan oil as a staple food ingredient and for medicinal purposes.
Map of Morocco
Besides being adaptable to the harsh environmental conditions of Morocco and the Sahara desert, the argan tree is also listed an endangered plant species and is under the protection of UNESCO (Unite Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). As it is derived from an endangered plant and only grows in such a small, specific location, argan oil itself is considered one of the world’s rarest natural oils.
An argan tree in Morocco
With its growing appeal and many nourishing benefits for skin, hair and body, argan oil is currently in high demand from companies all over the world. Claims in using argan oil are that it strengthens hair, revitalizes and moisturizes skin and is a delicious addition when cooking food. The main ingredient in argan oil is Vitamin-E, a great natural resource for healthy skin, and also comprised of 80%fatty acids.
As with all natural oils, there are also many products on the market claiming to be “Pure Argan Oil” but also include a mixture of chemicals. Be aware of false claims and research products carefully. Check out this list of what to look for in recognizing impure argan oil here.
Traditionally, the Berbers collected undigested argan pits from the waste of goats that climbed argan trees and ate the fruit. Mainly a job for women, the pits were ground and pressed to make the oil used for cooking and in cosmetics. Today, the argan oil you will find in most cosmetic and personal care products are from harvested nuts straight from the tree. (No need to worry about the goats!)
Berber women processing argan oil
The sustainable sourcing of argan oil and the Fairtrade connection that has been created with the local Berber women adds a positive light to the idea of using argan oil and its environmental impact.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the social and economic benefits from the argan oil industry in Mororco could also be life changing for many locals. “It’s hoped that poor rural women in particular would benefit from expansion of the argan oil industry in an arid region with few industries and employment prospects.”
With this newfound hope for the argan oil industry, Bloomberg Businessweek states an increase in exports and eventual sales in Morocco:“Morocco’s exports of argan oil have more than doubled in the past five years, to more than 700 tons”. However, due to the endangered status and slow-growing nature of the argan tree, scientists are challenged with the future of argan oil’s overexposure and rising demand.
Have you tried any products containing argan oil? I’m looking forward to purchasing some pure argan oil for my hair!