Tips for Choosing Cruelty-Free Products

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Monday, June 13th, 2011

Tips for Choosing Cruelty-Free Products

Shopping for cruelty-free products for yourself or for your salon can be rewarding, but often overwhelming. Several companies label their product as “cruelty-free” when in fact animal testing or animal cruelty is involved in the production. So how do you know when a product is truly animal friendly?

What Does Cruelty-Free Mean?

This seems to be where the standards of companies differ from the standards of consumers. According to the Group for the Education of Animal Related Issues, in order for a product to truly be “cruelty-free” it must:

Not have been tested on animals

Not contain ingredients that were tested on animals

Not contain animal ingredients

Unfortunately, although many companies do not always meet these standards, they still place a “cruelty-free” label on their product anyway. Products wear labels that read “This Product was not Tested on Animals” when in actuality the ingredients themselves were tested on animals. A “cruelty-free” company does not necessarily employ a cruelty-free supplier.

Check the Ingredients

A product that is truly animal friendly will not use ingredients from animals. However, many companies do since animal ingredients are usually cheaper and more accessible than synthetic or vegetable-derived ingredients. Before purchasing a product that claims to be “cruelty-free,” read over the ingredients to be sure of its contents. Here are some common animal ingredients that you might see:

Amino acids


Benzoic Acid



Stearic Acid


For a full list of animal ingredients to avoid, visit the PETA website.

Leaping Bunny

Look for the Leaping Bunny

There are no laws that govern the labeling of cruelty-free products, so exercise caution when shopping. Companies can put “cruelty-free” on their products in order to appeal to the masses without having to meet any standards. This is because there are no laws that enforce a company to meet real cruelty-free standards. However, the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) completes in-depth, on-site audits before certifying a company as being “cruelty-free.” The CCIC is a group of eight animal protection groups that came together to create the Leaping Bunny logo. They are one of the most trusted organizations fighting for animal rights. If you see the Leaping Bunny, it means that no animal testing was conducted by the company or its supplier.

Most importantly, do your research before investing in any product that claims to be “cruelty-free.” Investigate the ingredients, the manufacturer, and the supplier of your products.

OSHA Warning Issued For Brazilian Keratin Treatment Hazard

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Friday, April 29th, 2011


U.S. Department of Labor issues Hazard Alert Brazilian keratin treatment products.

There has been a lot of controversy (and confusion) lately over the recent Hazard Alert issued by the Department of Labor, but we’ve got the full scoop for you. After years of skepticism towards Brazilian keratin treatment products and the presence of formaldehyde, the Department of Labor recently issued a Hazard Alert that warns the public on the dangers of formaldehyde. This is perhaps where the different interpretations arise. Many consumers and stylists believe that this Hazard Alert is a ban on formaldehyde containing contents, however, the disclaimer at the bottom of the page provides some clarification. It reads:

The Hazard Alert

“This Hazard Alert is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations.” — U.S. Department of Labor

So there you have it. No ban has been issued just yet, but what this new document does achieve is national awareness of the problem. Even better, this new alert establishes recommendations and information on safety standards that stylists must adhere to. The hazard alert was released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—a branch of the U.S Department of Labor. Overall, the document emphasizes the importance of keeping a safe working environment, and it urges stylists and salon owners to exercise caution with products. And while employee safety is the main concern of this hazard alert, how dangerous is it for clients to be exposed to formaldehyde?

Whether or not you are a stylist, formaldehyde is a hazard whenever it is inhaled into the lungs or if it gets into the eyes. Every time a hot flat iron touches hair that has any form of formaldehyde, the chemical is released into the air as a gas and both the client and the stylist can breathe it in. This can cause irritation in the lungs, throat, nose and eyes. More information on formaldehyde can be found in the alert that OSHA issued.

Hazard Alert in a Nutshell

So what exactly does the Hazard Alert say? Here it is in a nutshell:

1. OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has been investigating the presence of formaldehyde in the air of salons after receiving multiple complaints from stylists. What they found was that certain products labeled as “formaldehyde free” did in fact release formaldehyde into the air at levels above what OSHA allows. These products were not only falsely labeled, but they failed to provide any warnings, and formaldehyde did not appear on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Two of these smoothing treatments are the Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution and Brazilian Blowout Professional Brazilian Blowout Solution.

Note: Good Housekeeping recently published their own investigation in which they tested four salon brand products: Brazilian Blowout, Marcia Teixeira, Keratin Complex by Coppola, and Global Keratin Light Wave. Their researchers found that ALL four brands released formaldehyde into the air at levels that exceeded the acceptable amount regulated by OSHA.

The New “Japzilian” Hair Treatment

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Japzilian Smoothing Treatment

The new Japzilian smoothing treatment from California comes from the Joseph Martin Salon in Beverly Hills.

In the late 1990s, the Japanese hair straightening technique emerged as a way to permanently straighten hair. This method of straightening is also known as Thermal Reconditioning, and it combines the use of chemicals and heat to re-texturize the hair. Then the Brazilian Keratin Treatment made its way into salons worldwide as a revolutionary treatment utilizing proteins to deep condition hair while also smoothing the texture. Hair straightening techniques continue to evolve today, but perhaps none as innovative as the new Japzilian treatment.

The Japzilian is an ingenious marriage between the Brazilian Keratin Treatment and the Japanese Hair Straightening system. Combining the most advantageous qualities of both treatments, the Japzilian strives to give better results than either treatment could alone. The treatment was concocted in the Joseph Martin Salon in Beverly Hills, where G-San, a stylist and Artistic Color Director for the Joseph Martin Salon, had the idea for the Japzilian. G-San is the salon’s straightening expert, and has been styling hair for more than 14 years. The Japzilian is exclusively offered at the North Rodeo Drive location, where G-San works and has been whipping up the treatment for about eight months.

“Basically it’s a Japanese straight perm that is layered with keratin treatment. It gives fullness, body and shine to any type of hair—curly, fine, or ethnic,” says James Kendall, son of owner Joseph Kendall. Kendall has been styling hair for 25 years, and serves as the artistic director of the salon. Although the exact ingredients cannot be shared, Kendall assures that the treatment is simple. G-San has essentially combined his favorite Japanese straightening perm, Innosys, with his favorite keratin complex, Coppola.

“It’s a very interesting concept,” says Kendall, “He layers them on top of each other. And it only takes three and a half to four hours.” This is considerably shorter than the amount of time it takes to complete a Japanese straightening perm, which is roughly six hours. Although the name is funky and reptilian sounding, the results are anything but. The effects of the Japzilian are smooth, shiny locks that last up to five months longer than a normal Brazilian Keratin Treatment.

Introducing ScissorBoy Student Kits!

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011


Scissorboy scissor case

Attention, beauty school students! Are you looking for better tools for your student kit? Check out the new ScissorBoy Student Kits, designed especially for young stylists in training. With the ScissorBoy student kit, instructors and beauty schools can ensure their students are using high-quality tools in an easy-to-transport case. Here’s what’s included:

1. 5.5” Offset Scissor
2. 5.5” Offset Texturizer
3. Deluxe Scissor Case
4. Two Jaw Clips
5. Razor

Get a great start to your career by investing in the essentials. The tools in the ScissorBoy Student kit are top notch, crafted for excellence and professional use. Why not order them for your entire salon or school? For orders of more than 20 kits, schools and salons can receive an up to 50% bulk discount!

For more information, visit the ScissorBoy Student Kit website where you can watch a video about the new kit and place your order.

Pollyseon: Bringing Convenience and Organization to the Beauty Industry

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Pollyseon cases


Pollyseon is the new and innovative way for the busy stylist to store her styling equipment. The name is unique, the idea is unique, and the results are spectacular. Finally, salon owners and stylists have a fashionable way to travel with their equipment and not worry about damages.

The company was recently launched and hails from the heart of Texas. Its two founders, Polly Shrewsbury and Judy Seonkyung Im, got together in 2008 to map out their ideas for the product, and eventually formed a company. CEO Polly Shrewsbury has a background in executive management and consulting, but her friendship with Judy is what sparked the idea for Pollyseon. Judy Seonkyung Im has been a stylist for 20 years, working at salons and behind the scenes at New York’s Fashion Week. Her busy schedule and demanding lifestyle was the inspiration for Pollyseon.

“A professional stylist and close friend of mine, Judy, told me how difficult it is for hair styling professionals to protect their investment in their tools. Traditional carrying bags are not a good solution because the tools bump together and the cords get tangled. As a consultant, I could relate. I used to pack my hot rollers or iron last, and sometimes even wrap them in a towel, to prevent the heat from burning anything else in my suitcase,” says CEO Shrewsbury.

Pollyseon has a passion for bringing fashionable, but most importantly, innovative products to the market. They have designed fashion conscious travel cases made of top quality leather and nylon that are perfect for protecting styling tools. Their main objective is to provide protection, organization, and easy transport to the busy stylist. The travel cases are functional and sleek, and allow the stylist to organize each tool effectively.

Currently, Pollyseon has five different cases on the market. Four of these cases are for individual styling tools, and one case holds them all together. They are an excellent option for stylists who travel either to fashion shows across the country or to a client’s home. Any stylist can benefit from these cases. Whether or not you are on the go, having these cases on hand is great, even if you are simply traveling from your own home to the salon. If you are a stylist who flies frequently, it will interest you to know that all of the cases meet FAA regulations. The four cases available are as follows:

Both Shrewsbury and Seonkyung Im have carefully crafted their cases according to their research. They have taken into consideration every detail of styling equipment, including its maintenance and the needs of the traveling stylist. To say that careful preparation went into the design of these products is simply an understatement.

Shears Case:
Made from beautiful, high-gloss padded leather, the shears case secures and protects up to seven individual shears or razors. A patented, magnetic clasp allows the case to easily convert into a functional display.

Iron Case:
The issue of where to place your hot iron is solved by this case. The interior is flame-retardant up to 1100°F and the attached fabric forms a heat-resistant workspace. For even greater protection, the zippered exterior manages and protects the cord.

Brush/Comb Case:
Separately manage all brushes and combs with this versatile valet. A handle located in the center of the unzipped case makes for easy portability and the compartments and side pockets lend accessibility to clips, pins, etc.

Dryer Case:
This professional grade item holds a standard-sized blow dryer with additional storage provided by an inner pocket. All contents are protected from liquid spills through the water-resistant lining.

Carry All:
All Pollyseon cases are designed to modularly fit into this attractive and padded carryall with room to spare for additional items. And the full shoulder strap helps when on the go between tight jobs.

“After interviewing hundreds of styling professionals and consumers to design and test our products, we wanted to bring to market a functional collection of cases that offers professionals and consumers alike a durable and stylish solution for protecting their expensive styling equipment and for staying organized while on the go,” says Shrewsbury. “We designed our collection to meet the high standards of a professional, knowing that if our products work for a professional, they will for a consumer too.”

It will be interesting to see how Pollyseon develops as a company and a product. Still very young, the company has big aspirations and major plans for the future. Pollyseon strives to achieve 100% satisfaction with every purchase, and their long-term goal is to see Pollyseon become a household name.

To learn more about the company and its products, visit the Pollyseon website or call them at 877-POLLYSEON.

Pravana Keratin Glaze Changes the Face of Blow Drying

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Straightened Hair

The beauty of Keratin Glazing is in the results.

The new Pravana Naturceuticals, named for the presence of keratin, has taken the salon blow drying service to a new level. With their new product called “Keratin Glazing,” the hair dryer can provide shinier, smoother, healthier looking blowouts. The Keratin Glazing kit utilizes pure keratin-based proteins that make hair strands stronger and more resilient to breakage.

“The beauty of our Keratin Glazing application is the beauty of its results. It exponentially ratchets up the shine quotient, it’s easy to apply, works to enhance color and texture services, while leaving hair healthy, shiny and more manageable. We’re thrilled to bring this to market—and the beauty and salon marketplace is responding in kind,” says Pravana CEO Steven Goddard.

The keratin in the treatment will not only add luster to your locks, but it also gives vibrancy to color-treated hair and texture. After using the keratin glazing kit, your hair will lock in the natural protein and your curls appear shinier and healthier. The Pravana Naturceuticals combine the power of nature with technological innovation, and uses nine Meso-American botanicals to increase your hair’s overall wellness. The Proprietary Naturceutical complex also uses three advanced hydrolyzed proteins to boost strength and elasticity—a must when it comes to curls.

All of Pravana’s products are of the highest quality, and meet the strictest environmental regulations. None of their products is tested on animals, and their shampoos are sulfate- and sulfite-free. If you want to try the new Pravana Keratin Glaze, read on for instructions on how to use it.

1. Shampoo your hair with Pravana Keratin Fusion Sulfate Free shampoo.
2. Towel dry your hair.
3. Apply Keratin Fusion Reconstructing Serum onto hair and comb through.
4. Spray keratin fusion thermal insulator throughout the hair.
5. Blow dry your hair until it is about 99% dry.
6. Smooth hair over with a flat iron to seal in the Keratin Glaze.

Celebrity Hairstylist Ted Gibson Brings Beauty School Drop-Ins Backstage at Fashion Week

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Ted Gibson

Ted Gibson

Ted Gibson, celebrity stylist and ambassador to Beauty Changes Lives, held a contest offering the chance to go to the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. The contest was open to cosmetology students, who were required to submit a personal essay on what inspired them to pursue a career in beauty, and how they believe such a career will change their life. Originally, Gibson only wanted to select one winner, but after reading the hundreds of applications and essays, he found it impossible to do so.

“I wish I could have selected 10 winners based on their inspiring stories that reflect how careers in beauty can transform people’s lives even before they leave beauty school. I’ve lived the dream personally, and it’s so rewarding to see how similar dreams are playing out in beauty schools across the country,” Gibson said. Instead, he selected four students: Karyn Prim from PB Cosmetology Education Center in Gloucester, New Jersey, LaShay Weddington from the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis, Sadie Graveen, from the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis, and Alan Atkins from the Brio Academy in Northampton, Mass.

Ted Gibson will be working backstage at several Fashion Week shows, but the students will accompany Ted to the top five fashion events of the season—an honor some beauty school students only dream of. These lucky students will be introduced at the Rachel Roy show on February 15.

Executive director of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools Jim Cox said that Ted Gibson was the perfect choice for the spokesperson to its Beauty Changes Lives initiative. Beauty Changes Lives is a non-profit striving to build awareness of the many careers in beauty and wellness, as well as raise funds for beauty related causes and philanthropies.

Gibson is the perfect example of an accomplished beauty professional. “We were looking for a spokesperson who could speak to all the possibilities a career in beauty represents. Ted works as a stylist, owns successful salons, manages a product line, stars on TLC’s What Not to Wear and champions careers in the beauty industry. His career reflects the unlimited career opportunities that a cosmetology education offers,” says Cox.

“Many people think being a hairstylist is about standing behind the chair, but this career can be whatever you want it to be whether that’s fashion, entertainment, editorial or being a beauty school teacher which was how my career began to really take off,” Gibson stated.

Gibson is most famous for his celebrity clients, which are Angelina Jolie, Renee Zelwegger, Keira Knightly and Anne Hathaway. His career is an inspiration for any stylist with a dream, and his willingness to extend opportunities to students is a testament to his passion for perpetuating ambition and success.

Brazilian Keratin Treatment: A Dangerous Price to Pay for Beauty

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Monday, January 10th, 2011

Burning eyes, nosebleeds and chest pain—these are just some of the symptoms that stylists experience when they perform certain Brazilian keratin treatments on clients. When Brazilian keratin treatments first appeared in salons, they took consumers by storm. Everyone wanted to try the revolutionary treatment from Brazil that worked miracles, transforming even the tightest curls into loose, silky strands.

Brazilian blowout results

Brazilian blowout results

The Brazilian Blowout, one of the biggest name brands for Brazilian Keratin Treatments, is a 90-minute long procedure aimed at smoothing the hair with a “Brazilian super nutrient complex.” Using keratin, the blowout is supposed to build a protein layer around the hair, leaving it frizz-free and in healthier condition than before the treatment. The effects of Brazilian keratin treatments are supposed to last about twelve weeks, but the glamour lasted only till 2007, when “Allure” magazine released an article exposing the presence of formaldehyde (a human carcinogen) in the Brazilian Blowout treatments. Ever since, more and more stylists and consumers have been skeptical of Brazilian keratin treatments, specifically the Brazilian Blowout products.

Valerie Martin, master stylist at Ritual Salon in Austin, Texas, is one of the stylists who is saying no to Brazilian blowout treatments. Martin and her fellow stylists grew weary of the product after experiencing shortness of breath and watery eyes while performing the treatment. But after watching a feature on “Good Morning America,” Martin put her foot down. The report showed that air samples of two separate salons using Brazilian Blowout contained 8-10% formaldehyde, an alarming result, considering any hair solution containing more than .1% of formaldehyde is considered potentially hazardous and must be reported to stylists by the manufacturer.

Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can cause cancer, but more immediately, it causes eye and lung irritation.

“I could taste it in my mouth,” says Martin about the treatment. “All my clients had watery eyes, and I even had an air purifier next to them!” Martin no longer offers the Brazilian blowout, and is very skeptical about Brazilian keratin treatments in general. “There are a lot of keratin treatments that say they don’t have formaldehyde, but if you look at the ingredients it says aldehyde. They can call it something else because they changed the ingredient a little bit. But it’s pretty much formaldehyde,” says Martin.

Anna Craig

Anna Craig

Formaldehyde takes on many names, including methylene glycol and formalin, which is a liquid form of formaldehyde. Many companies are hiding the presence of formaldehyde by substituting it for other names, the most commonly used name being methylene glycol. It is released into the air as formaldehyde once it comes into contact with heat. It’s ironic, considering that the most important step in the Brazilian keratin treatment, the application of heat to seal in the keratin, is in fact the most dangerous one.

Anna Craig from Trashy Roots Salon in Round Rock, Texas, avoids the danger altogether. Craig used the Brazilian Blowout products until it created thick smog that lingered in her salon. When Craig and her employees tried to take a picture of the smog, a thin film veiled the lens. The smog was unbearable, and so were the side effects.

“Our stylists started talking about the smog, and how it was affecting us. One of the stylists got sick. It was bothering her eyes, and she wasn’t feeling well.”

Before banning the Brazilian Blowout in her salon, Craig and her stylists attended a class aimed at teaching stylists how to properly use the product. The instructors urged the use of ventilators and air purifiers, but Craig protested. “We don’t want clients seeing that we need air purifiers to provide a service.” After doing some research, Craig decided against using the product at all. Trashy Roots Salon strives to be environmentally friendly by providing all natural, organic products. “We decided that it is totally against everything that we stand for.”

Mark Garrison

Mark Garrison

Anna Craig isn’t the only one standing up to the Brazilian blowout and other Brazilian keratin treatments with formaldehyde. Most European countries have banned the sale of Brazilian Blowout products, and Australia has banned the use of the Keratin Complex Treatment by Coppola. Even closer to home, Health Canada has banned the Brazilian blowout and is stopping product distribution to Canadian salons. Efforts to ban the Brazilian blowout treatment in the U.S. are limited to movements within individual states. In November of 2010, the Attorney General of California filed a lawsuit against Brazilian Blowout, claiming that the company failed to warn consumers of the presence of formaldehyde in their product. Not only did they fail to warn consumers, but the president of Brazilian Blowout repeatedly told the press that their product is formaldehyde-free.

Mark Garrison, owner of the Mark Garrison salon in New York City, doesn’t take any chances in his salon. Garrison offered the Brazilian blowout treatment in his salon until the Oregon OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Division) issued an alert about the presence of formaldehyde in the treatment. Before then, Garrison designated the entire fourth floor of his townhouse sized salon to providing Brazilian keratin treatments. Garrison was ahead of the game, and in 2006 he built his very own keratin treatment room. Spending $7,000 on a ventilation system and masks, Garrison built the room because of the particular controversy that surrounds the Brazilian keratin treatments.

“I do everything by the book to make sure that my client and stylist are safe,” says Mark Garrison. The salon provides both the client and the technician with a mask equipped with special canisters rated for formaldehyde gas. For further protection, the client is placed under a hood that collects the vapor and ventilates the room. But building the room alone did not reassure Garrison. Taking matters into his own hands, Garrison conducted an independent study testing the amount of formaldehyde in Brazilian keratin treatments.

“I did a vapor test with Brazilian Blowout. We had a pump pumping the air and registering how much formaldehyde is in the air,” explains Garrison. “My test proved that it has formaldehyde.” After completing the study, Garrison brought it to the attention of the CEO of Brazilian Blowout, who insisted that their product was free of formaldehyde or any of its derivatives. “In the end, it was a lie,” says Garrison. “Very few companies have been straightforward with their consumers.” However, after testing the level of formaldehyde in several products, Garrison favors the Lasio and M&M Teixeira keratin treatments. Garrison still requires that every keratin treatment be given in his keratin treatment room. “Just to be safe, we take that extra step.”

However, most salon owners do not have the resources Mark Garrison has to take such precautions. Instead, many stylists are limiting the keratin treatments they offer to brands they know and trust. Anna Craig from Trashy Roots offers Pravana Keratin Fusion Texture Control, while Valerie Martin from Ritual Salon instead offers Dikson Keratin Treatment, both products being formaldehyde-free. Unfortunately, this is one of the only measures that stylists can take in order to protect their health, as FDA regulations make it very difficult to ban keratin treatments with formaldehyde in the U.S. However, consumers can take part in the movement to stop sale distribution of harmful hair treatments by educating themselves. “Do your homework and be aware of what is in your keratin treatment before you get it done,” says Martin. “At what cost do people want to look good?”

INSPIRE Hairstyling Books Wants your Photos!

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Monday, November 29th, 2010

Inspire Magazine

Want a great way to promote your salon and show off your skills? INSPIRE, America’s most popular line of professional hairstyling books, is giving you the chance to submit photos of your best work for Volume 79: The Family Issue. Simply download the photo submission packet, which includes a list of publication guidelines, model/photo release form, photo submission form and copyright license. Submit all these forms along with photos of your work on women, men, and children by January 15th.

If your work is chosen, INSPIRE will furnish you with complimentary marketing materials to impress your clientele while bringing in new business—plus, you’ll get the personal satisfaction of having your work recognized on a national level.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: January 15th 2010

Redken’s Very Own Hairstyling Video Game

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Monday, November 22nd, 2010

busy scissors

Redken, one of the nation’s leading companies in providing salons and consumers with professional products, cuts the way for a whole new style of video game just in time for the holidays. Get ready to add this to your wish list!

Through the video game ‘Busy Scissors,’ consumers and stylists alike can sharpen their professional edge and virtually experience the life of a salon professional! An industry first, Redken teamed up with game publisher, Little Orbit LLC, for this hairstyling and simulation video game. Busy Scissors is now available in stores for both the Nintendo Wii and DS.

Get ready to color, shampoo, cut, blow dry, and style hair with your Wii remote. Players can earn a positive reputation and advance their career in a Hollywood-based salon by meeting the demands of their glamorous and eccentric clientele. From movie stars to musicians, each client has his or her own personality that players need to match with their hairstyle. The game progresses as the stylists help unlock each client’s inner potential by finding their unique style. The game features more than 25 hairstyles, 20 mini-games, six career levels and four game modes, which provide a dynamic combination of realistic gameplay, humor and entertainment for all ages.

Now consumers have a whole new way to engage with Redken by using actual professional Redken products in a virtual salon, as well as get a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be a professional hair stylist. Game developers spent months working with industry experts to emulate real hairstyles used in the game. Each salon technique was demonstrated and filmed by the team before it was re-created in 3D as a game, so consumers are able to imitate actual hair styling techniques used by professionals. What a fun way to sharpen your skills as a stylist!

Busy Scissors is now available for $19.99 at your local Gamestop, Wal-Mart, or K-Mart. Or, visit the Busy Scissors website to purchase the game online!

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