Posts Tagged ‘jessicurl’

How to Choose the Curly Hair Products that Fit Your Needs

by Lilly Rockwell on Friday, July 31st, 2009

The Styling Hutch in Plano, Texas, has made a name for itself for its expertise in cutting curly hair. So when owner Claudia Phillips was looking for a line of products to use and sell at her salon, she wanted to make sure she chose one that covered the gamut of clients who walked through her door — from wavy to super kinky.

After using products by Ouidad, a New York stylist who has been a pioneer in curly hair care, she decided to get her salon certified to use Ouidad products and cutting techniques. Phillips says she tried several lines, but across the board, nothing else compared to Ouidad.

“The fact that I can use the whole line for all of our clients was my major consideration,” Phillips says. “There was something for everyone, and it really works. Clients go out looking good, which makes us look good. People come from the other side of the Dallas Metroplex to buy more products.”

Walk into a random selection of salons, and you’ll see that the hair-care products stylists use vary dramatically. Their product choices often are influenced on such factors as the type of salon a stylist works for, the season, the clientele, environmental leanings, nearby competitors and even the economy.

For many stylists, picking which products to use can be an overwhelming task. How do you cut through the marketing hype to pick which products to offer clients and which ones to discard? Stylists say this task is made especially difficult when dealing with curly hair. A product that works well with wavy hair won’t necessarily help someone who has tight corkscrew-shaped curls. And often the choice may go beyond the product to the type of support a company offers, such as training.

aveda be curly hair products

Some salons carry one line, such as Aveda, exclusively.

In some cases, a stylists may work for a salon affiliated with a certain line of products, such as Aveda, Redken or Bumble and bumble. Others stylists may have more leeway, picking products based on the preferences of their clientele and their own personal likes and dislikes. That may mean picking and choosing products from a variety of brands to find the products that meet particular needs.

Some stylists have intricate methods they go about to select hair-care products.

Teresa Callen, who opened her Menlo Park, Calif.-based Image Arts Salon this year, said she frequently receives sample shipments of new hair-care products and sends some time through them to decide which ones to use. But this can be a chore, she says.

“When you work with a product you have to know it as intimately as the lines on the back of your hand,” explains Callen, who has worked as a hair stylist for more than 25 years and specializes in cutting curly hair. “Some of it is trial and error.”

Callen acknowledges she has made “a ton of mistakes” over the years.

“I first use them on my head, then I have my friends use them,” Callen says.

This process takes two to three weeks, and then her friends deliver what they don’t use and provide feedback. She also has a few select clients try the samples.

“Some clients are brilliant at giving feedback and they love to get new products,” she said.

jessicurl hair products

Jessicurl is among the lines Teresa Callen sells in her salon.

Callen currently offers Jessicurl and DevaCurl products, but keeps a close watch on which products sell faster than others. If sales drop “so bad I can’t move it off the shelf,” Callen’s solution is simple: she stops carrying it.

Picking the right product line can really enhance your business, Callen says, bringing in customers that are loyal to that brand. “In the long run, it can be lucrative,” to stick with a certain product line, she says.

Other hair stylists prefer to switch it up, bringing in new lines to attract clients.

That was the case for American Mortals Salon, a 9-year-old salon in Philadelphia. Co-owner Kimberly Bond says she tried a wide variety of product lines before pursuing Bumble and bumble, after watching one of the company’s “Hair Stories” videos, which documented the company’s history.

“We were riveted,” says Bond. “It was the first time my husband (co-owner of the salon) ever related to something like this. It was amazing to witness a company that had a culture so similar to our own culture. They created a product line based of need from their stylists’ experiences.”

American Mortals made the switch three years ago, and retail sales have responded dramatically, tripling from what it was before they became affliated with Bumble.

“We’re selling more retail than we ever sold before, and we have better access to training,” said Bond, who is a big fan of the company’s Curl Conscious line for curly hair.

Hair stylist Cristin Armstrong, who works at New York City-based Takamichi Salon, loves to try new products.

“I try to keep current and ask my clients what they are using,” she says. “I’m always curious what people are using and what is new.” Armstrong spends time researching new products as well, pouring over reviews online and flipping through style magazines to learn about new products.

Hair stylists said they learn a lot about new products by asking their clients what they use. If they hear a certain name pop up frequently, stylists say they will try it out on their own hair and look into carrying it at their salon.

Some stylists prefer to develop and sell their own products, a trend that has been particularly apparent in the curly niche. Curly hair guru Jonathan Torch, who opened the Toronto-based Curly Hair Institute in 2005, has designed his own product line Curly Hair Solutions.

Torch said developing the product line was key to improving his business. If somebody has curly hair, it needs cutting very seldom, while straight-haired customers may need their hair cut more frequently. Curly-haired customers are more apt to buy styling products and targeted shampoos and conditioners more often, he said.

Salons and stylists that cater to both curly and straight hair say they must offer a wide range of products for their clientele because their needs vary.

Tiffany Anderson-Taylor is in charge of retail sales for Essentials, the St. Petersburg, Fla. salon where she works.

“The lines we carry we felt were more appropriate to handle everybody’s needs,” she said.

Her salon carries DevaCurl, Aquage and Brocato product lines.

“Deva was one of the first to stand up and say ‘look, curly hair is different and you need to respect it for being different,’ ” she said.

In some cases, the decision is based on more than just the product in the bottles. It may be the brand recognition, the business support or the training that help a stylist or salon make the decision to choose one brand over another.

Bond was attracted to the business support Bumble provided as well as the continuing education. “You could see they really supported their salons,” she says.

Being a Ouidad-certified salon has helped The Styling Hutch attract clientele from around the country, says Phillips.

“That affiliation gives us credibility among our curly clients that we know what we’re doing with curly hair,” Phillips says.

Sometimes a salon has to take competitive factors into consideration, such as diversion. This refers to the controversial practice of professional hair-care products finding their way into grocery stores and pharmacies because of lax distribution processes. Walk into any supermarket, and there will be an aisle full of brands that used to be found exclusively at salons — a trend that angers stylists and cuts into their bottom line.

Essentials will only offer products that can’t be bought at your local supermarket, which enhances the allure of the salon, Anderson-Taylor said.

Now that many consumers are paying attention to how “green” their purchasing habits are, many stylists prefer to offer products made organically. Stylists say it’s important to read the product labels to figure out which products truly adhere to organic principles and which don’t.

Cala Renee, who runs her own salon in Beverly, Mass., says she carries the DevaCurl line in to cater to her curly-haired clientele, but also liked the product line’s emphasis on natural plant-based ingredients.

“I searched for a line that is all organic,” said Renee, whose salon specializes in curly hair.


Cala Renee carries Sukesha products in her salon.

She also carries Sukesha, which contains no sulfates and focuses on plant-based natural ingredients. And she offers the Aquage line, which uses organic ingredients from seaweed and algae extract. “I’m trying to go as green as possible.”

Representatives visit her salon every two weeks, she says, pushing new products. Like many stylists, she uses the products on herself first before she’ll consider using them on her clients.

Still, no matter how great a product is, if it’s too pricey, she doesn’t offer it, adding that a salon’s price ceiling can change depending on its location. She also monitors what her competitors are carrying and at what prices.

With all the attention Renee pays to the products she carries, she said she still isn’t sure that they ultimately drive clients to choose her salon over others.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s the product line that gets the people into the salon,” Renee said. “I think it’s the reputation of the hair-cutting and curly hair specialists.”

She hesitates a moment and adds, “And then, they love the Deva.”

To Poo or Not to Poo - That is the Question

by Teri Evans on Tuesday, May 12th, 2009


The downside of “squeaky clean” hair

Your client has tossed her flat-iron, finally found the right curly cut, and learned how to style her spirals. So why are her locks still frizzy, dull and dehydrated? And why has her freshly colored tresses turned brassy in a matter of days?

Curl-centric stylists say the answer may be found on the back of the shampoo bottle.

“You have to turn the bottle around and look for sodium laurel — or laureth — sulfate; it’s in the ingredient list,” says curl guru Lorraine Massey, who started her own line of sulfate-free cleansers in 1999. “If you see that in there, then put it down. That’s one is the harshest [detergents] of them all and just strips the hair of any vitality.”

Although many traditional shampoos contain sulfates (which are a classification of foaming agents also known as surfactants), curl experts say these harsh detergents steal the moisture that your tresses so desperately need.

“We’ve been addicted to lather, but you don’t need synthetic substances to cleanse your hair or wash your body, for that matter,” Massey says. “Sulfates harden the hair. They irritate the hair cuticle and dry it out. It’s like washing your hair with salt.”

Originally, soap and shampoo were similar products in that they both contained surfactants. The first commercial shampoo, Breck, was introduced in 1930 with thick, billowy lather. Over the decades, more sudsy shampoos emerged, as did the advice to make your hair “squeaky clean.”

Sodium laurel sulfate is quite irritating and can be rather drying to the skin, but companies have come up with milder versions like Sodium Laureth Sulfate, says Jim Hammer, a cosmetics chemist and product development manager at Pharmasol Corp. in Easton, Mass. But with any detergent cleanser, the flip side of removing oils you don’t want is that you also remove oils you do want, Hammer says.

“Squeaky clean is a myth,” says Chaz Dean, celebrity stylist and founder of Wen Hair & Body Care products and Chaz Dean Studio in Hollywood, Calif. “People thought squeaky clean meant clean hair, but squeaky clean really equals stripped and dried-out hair.”

How does this happen? Sulfates create a dense lather that strips away sebum, the oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands that prevent your hair from drying out. You’ll find sulfates in countless cleaning products — ranging from car cleaners to laundry and dishwashing detergents to shower gels and toothpaste. And, of course, shampoo.

“By cleansing your scalp [with sulfates] you’re robbing it of all the natural, essential oils and beneficial bacteria; you killed them and washed them down the drain,” says Dean, who launched zero-lather cleansing conditioners in the mid-1990s. “The bad and harmful bacteria replenish at a much more rapid pace than the beneficial ones. So, you open yourself up to a dry, flaky and sensitive scalp and psoriasis because you stripped the beneficial bacteria and left a minefield open for the bad bacteria to have a field day.”

Dean began to realize the harshness of sulfates nearly two decades ago when he was in the early stages of his career, starting out as a colorist.

“At the time, I started putting vegetable color in my clients’ shampoos and sending them home with it,” Dean recalls. “That would help a little, but their hair still looked brassy. I then started to put it in the conditioner. But then the shampoo would strip the color back out. It was a vicious cycle. That’s when I knew I had to eliminate the lathering factor. The No. 1 reason the color was fading was because anything that lathers is going to strip.”

While shampoos contain about 8 to 10 percent detergents — a fraction of that being sulfates — Hammer says cleansing conditioners use cationic surfactants, which contain softening and anti-static properties. They are technically surfactants and will cleanse the hair, but they’re not a detergent in the classical sense — you won’t see the foam as you would with shampoos. Cationic surfactants are more related to a conditioning agent, so they don’t have the stripping effect of a normal shampoo.

A handful of hair-care companies and curl-centric stylists, like Massey and Dean, have been touting the benefits of sulfate-free cleansers for more than a decade. But many people have only just started to embrace them after the recent, intensified focus on the environment.

“People are becoming more responsible now, with global warming,” Dean says. “They are becoming more aware of what we’re doing to the environment and ourselves, and how we can change.”

But change can be uncomfortable. While curl experts see a shift toward sulfate-free products, they also still see plenty of resistance.

“Every person I encounter, even if they have interest, still has to be convinced about why and how this works,” Dean says. “They have to hear it over and over, until they’re finally ready to take the plunge and try it. People are afraid of change and shampoo has been around for so long that it’s just what people know.”

Although sulfates are still widely used, Hammer says a lot of companies are interested in moving away from them.

The marketing mantra of “wash, rinse, repeat” was firmly embedded in the mind of Kelly Foreman, until she realized how sulfates were stripping her color-treated, curly locks. Two years ago, she launched her own sulfate-free product line called Mop Top.

“Curly hair, by its nature, is dry anyway, and you have to be very careful with the chemicals you put on it,” says Foreman. “The lack of moisture is the direct result of using a surfactant too frequently.”

Forman’s Gentle Shampoo does contain coconut-derived surfactants, which she says are much more gentle than sulfates. Her basic recommendation is to start with a sulfate-free shampoo every seven to 10 days — and then adjust based on how your tresses respond.

“I personally shampoo once every three to four weeks,” Foreman says, “The rest of the time I just use conditioner.”

Based on customer feedback, Foreman is now reducing the amount of surfactants in the shampoo even further — cutting them in half. She also plans to launch a zero-lather cleanser this fall because of customer demand.

“It’s an exciting time to be in this industry,” notes Inga Tritt, who launched The Original Little Sprout in 2003 as a sulfate-free hair and skin-care line for children.

The idea for her own product line emerged after a frustrating search for sulfate-free products that actually worked on her young daughter, Maya’s, curly locks.

“I used to use products I found in the health-food store because I didn’t want to use anything I had to worry about on Maya,” Tritt says. “But they didn’t perform. They left her hair fuzzy and dry.”

Tritt’s sulfate-free shampoos do contain some foaming agents, but they’re derived from beets, coconuts, almonds and sunflowers.

“For curly hair, a sulfate-free shampoo is a win-win because not only is your hair going to look much better, but your frizz is going to be considerably reduced, also” says Tritt, who is introducing a sulfate-free shampoo for adults this fall.

“A lot of times, with traditional shampoos, they will add extra mineral oil, petroleum oil derivatives or by-products to help counteract the drying effect of sulfates,” Tritt says. “But you don’t want to feel that residue. People are starting to get it. They’re becoming more savvy consumers and educating themselves.”

Take Jessicurl’s Jessica — yet another example of an educated curly whose relentless research resulted in her own line of sulfate-free products.

“I was spending all kinds of money and doing my hair over and over again. and trying to get it to look right and not understanding why it didn’t,” says McGuinty, who launched Jessicurl four years ago. “Well, there’s no way it could look right when I was stripping it with sulfates, then loading it with silicones to calm the frizz that sulfates cause.”

The Jessicurl line includes two sulfate-free cleansers that contain more gentle surfactants derived mostly from sugar and coconut . The Hair Cleansing Cream has a minimal amount of lather for dry, coarse, or color-treated hair, and the Gentle Lathering Shampoo provides a bit more lather for fine hair that tends to easily become weighed down.

As the demand for sulfate-free products has encouraged the growth of small, independent companies like Jessicurl, the giants in the beauty industry also have begun paying attention.

“Businesses that are responding and going green are making the money,” Tritt says. “The ones that are still old school are going to fall behind really fast.”

“It’s not political at this point, it’s moral,” adds Massey. “It’s about getting real and if something doesn’t feel good, it isn’t. Since when was it acceptable to have mediocre blow-fried, dehydrated hair? At what point did you look in the mirror and say, ‘This is okay?’ It’s not acceptable. There are solutions now, and it’s really going to make a difference when you really want to make a difference. It’s up to you.”

In Defense of Shampoo

Curl expert Christo of New York’s Christo Fifth Avenue has built his entire career — and his Curlisto product — around helping curlies maintain healthy hair. That is why he is very frustrated by what he calls the unfair “attack” on shampoos.

“I would never do anything to harm curly hair,” says Christo. “Sulfates are just one small ingredient along with many other good ingredients, like proteins and amino acids, etc. You need them to cleanse your hair properly, remove the buildup and maintain the hygiene of the hair.

“There’s not one ingredient that harms the hair or is good for your hair. It’s the combination in a formula.”

Sulfates are a common detergent in shampoos, dating back to when the first bottle appeared on store shelves in the 1930s. Although a number of hair-care companies are opting not to include these detergents in their products today, some curl experts say the shift away from sulfates is nothing more than a gimmick.

Only a small fraction of the ingredients in shampoo are detergents, including sulfates, according to Jim Hammer, a cosmetics chemist and product development manager at Pharmasol Corp. in Easton, Mass. He says many shampoos also contain a combination of nurturing ingredients that will provide enhanced mildness, even in the presence of a sulfate.

“The word ’sulfate’ has become part of a marketing scare, and there’s a lot of propaganda,” adds Jonathan Torch of Toronto’s Curly Hair Institute.

“You can’t just look at that one ingredient. I would never use anything that would irritate the scalp. When people say they have an itchy scalp, they’re not rinsing out the shampoo properly. You have to spend a lot of time getting the water all the way down to the root. I haven’t found anything better or that remotely comes close to [sulfates].”

Torch’s product line includes a Treatment Shampoo and a Silk Shampoo, both of which contain ammonium laurel sulfate.

“There may be a product with one drop of sulfate and 20 drops of silk amino acids to counteract anything that could happen from that one drop.” Torch says. “Concentration is important. Quality is important. All these things play into it. So, it’s an art and it’s a science.”

Rather than skipping shampoo altogether, Christo emphasizes the importance of continuously feeding curly hair the moisture it needs.

“You’re going to gain a lot more by focusing on treating your hair with deep conditioners,” Christo says. “If you think you shouldn’t shampoo your hair at all, then you’re going to end up with no shine to your hair, and it will eventually cause damage to your hair.”

Shampoo is critical to cleansing the pores of the scalp and allowing the roots of your hair to breathe, according to Ouidad, author of CurlTalk and owner of New York’s Ouidad Salon, the Curl Education Center.

“If you don’t use shampoo to get rid of your own natural oils, not only does the hair become dull but the hair root starts dehydrating, and it starts shrinking,” Ouidad says. “The hair becomes weak.”

The key is moderation, say the curl experts. Shampoo once or twice a week rather then every day.

“It’s not going to damage your hair,” Christo adds. “It will bring the luster back to your hair that a no-sulfate shampoo cannot do, unfortunately.”

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