Ancient Arabians brewed quince peels, while Filipinos steeped aloe stems in cold water to help keep their hair hydrated. In North America, Native Americans showed settlers how to use the root of soapwort, a member of the carnation family, as a mild shampoo and chaparral extract to treat dandruff.
The early 1900s marked the discovery of mass production and chemically-based hair care products. Cheap ingredients and quick production facilitated the growth of personal care products made with synthetic chemicals. It wasn't until the last quarter century that studies began to surface about how many of the chemical ingredients found in most personal care products could have adverse effects on one's health. These findings, coupled with the natural products boom of the 70s, paved the way for the today’s return to botanicals.
Innovations in Botanical Hair Care
As consumers become more aware of their health and well-being, science has followed. The flux of new, natural solutions from herbal supplements to skin care illustrates this phenomenon, and the hair care industry is no exception. So what are the latest natural hair care ingredients to hit the market, the ones that consumers will soon be asking for?
Wheatgrass: Widely known as a nutritional supplement to help remove toxins from the bloodstream, wheatgrass is also one of nature's most effective hair cleansers. It is packed with antioxidants to protect hair from damaging free-radicals. Its deep-cleansing action removes excess oil, residue and debris, making it ideal for normal to oily hair types.
Rice Protein: Great for fine, limp hair, rice protein has a low molecular weight, which enables it to penetrate the hair shaft and expand its diameter for noticeably thicker hair. Hollywood stylists often spritz rice water onto hair before styling to impart instant volume and fullness.
Soy Protein: Soy helps hydrate, reconstruct and strengthen the hair shaft even after is has been weakened by chemicals and dryness. In conditioners, it smoothes the cuticle, helps restore body and elasticity, and guards against color fading.
Chinese Herbs: Used for centuries by the Chinese to stimulate and energize weak hair and scalp, these exotic botanical blends gently remove follicle-blocking sebum and debris that can slow growth and cause premature hair loss. They have also been shown to alleviate dandruff and symptoms associated with the condition, including itchiness and dryness.
Goldenseal Extract: An effective healer for hair, this natural extract from the goldenseal root historically has been used as a hair tonic to cleanse and add shine. It's also known to help control dryness of the scalp.
Avocado Oil: A very rich emollient, this buttery oil is the ultimate natural conditioner, leaving hair glossy, smooth and moisturized. It strengthens and softens brittle, broken hair shafts and split ends caused by overexposure to heat tools, the sun and chemical processes.
Carrot Seed: This extract hydrates each strand, leaving it soft and luxurious while also eliminating excess oil and product residue from hair surface. Its protective properties shield hair from external aggressions. Great for all hair types.
Ultimately, the point of shampoos and conditioners is to clean and condition hair —but if the products we use might negatively affect our health, isn't it smarter to be safe than sorry? In a culture where consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about their health, it is the retailers' responsibility to offer them the most wholesome, healthiest choices -- whether vitamins or personal care products. Once a retailer becomes committed to this mission, customers will take notice.
About the Author:
Cuban born Peter Lamas immigrated to New York City in 1961 at the age of 17. His parents had arrived in the Big Apple only a few months earlier, having fled Fidel Castro's repressive regime. Peter, making the best of his situation, decided to continue his studies of commercial art, photography and art in the United States. After he earned his license in cosmetology, he worked for Vidal Sassoon, the legendary Kenneth Salon Townhouse in mid-Manhattan and the Henri Bendel Salon in Manhattan. In the mid 70's he launched his own salon, "The Reapers."
The salon eventually extended to three locations in Manhattan. Lamas also launched cosmetics, skin and hair care products that would be sold exclusively in his salons under "The Reapers" name. With a drive to research all he could about health, beauty and ingredients, Peter founded Peter Lamas Products, with the overriding mission to deliver high-performance beauty products that contain healthy, natural ingredients, free of harmful chemicals. He also authored several books on beauty and anti-aging.