Expert's Opinion

Consumer Perception is Everything

By Philip Pelusi, Hair care expert | February 17, 2014

It’s not just what’s inside a product that’s important, but what’s not!

Marketplace demands for certain product ingredients have definitely changed over the years.  We have always stayed tuned to our client’s needs and pride ourselves in the use of unique, revolutionary ingredients enhanced with the most advanced, innovative technology.  But over the last several years, we have realized it’s not just what’s in a product that’s important to the ingredient savvy consumer but what is not in that product as well.  Marketplace demands have become almost militant in this area as the amount of allergens, fear over negative ingredient side effects and environmental worries have been on the increase.  And especially over the last 5 to 7 years consumers are much more educated about good and bad ingredient buzz words than ever before.  Therefore this emerging marketplace demand, plus our own passion toward producing cutting-edge, top-performing products, have lead us to eliminating and replacing these consumer-troubling ingredients.  The even more curious aspect of this endeavor is that it has challenged us to reach an even greater level of technological advancement and improved hair condition and hair color retention, something we happily have embraced.
One of the ingredients that has come to the forefront of this “bad ingredient” trend is Formaldehyde and rightly so.  We have never used Formaldehyde, Aldehyde or and Formaldehyde derivatives, not as a preservative and certainly not part of our Tela Beauty Organics by Philip Pelusi or P2 by Philip Pelusi Keratin Treatment Blow Outs and Philip Pelusi Blow Out Ultra.  As a stylist and salon owner myself, I have always wanted to work and have all of my stylists work in a toxin-free environment.  So far to that end, that I have never created an aerosol hair spray to steer clear of that daily inhalation of carcinogenic fumes.  If there is a safer way to achieve the same top-performance results on the hair and maintain client and stylist safety, I have always gone that route.  The same is true with never using Formaldehyde.  The damaging effects to the body and also to the condition of the hair have been widely written about.  Formaldehyde is a colorless gas that is an industrial carcinogen.  It reacts with water to produce Methylene Glycol, a.k.a. Formalin, which has been misidentified as "formaldehyde" since the turn of the 20th century.  This misidentification has been promulgated in official compendia and in US Government documentation since that time.  This problem has led some companies marketing hair straightening products that contain Formalin to the legal statement that they are "formaldehyde-free."  This lack of a concrete definition of "formaldehyde" has allowed these marketers to make the "formaldehyde-free" claim.  The fact remains that regardless of a concrete definition of what constitutes "formaldehyde," the products are, in fact dangerous and now OSHA, the federal agency responsible for safety in the workplace, has petitioned the FDA to begin a study of the safety of hair straightening (Brazilian Method) products that are documented to contain "formaldehyde".
The other critical issue regarding Formaldehyde is that once it has been infused into the hair it is nearly impossible to be removed until that section of hair is cut off.  Moreover, when heat is applied to Formaldehyde-treated hair, toxic odors can be released over and over again.  As a product creator, salon owner and stylist with customer demands for smoother, less frizzy hair, I needed to provide this texture in my products.  Working with my team of chemists, we created a new technology that rearranges hairs’ hydrogen and salt bonds that support the keratin.  Plus, for more-straight effects, we developed a proprietary keratin-rearranger technology with our super-charged, naturally-derived ceramide complex that utilizes mild alkalinity, carrying it deeply into the hair shaft and rearranging keratin’s disulfide bonds under tension, while binding critical moisture in the process.  This process also allows the stylist creative control of the amount of smoothness they want to achieve for that client. 
Another ingredient that has been getting a lot of press lately is Gluten.  We are in the process of upgrading all of our product formulas to be Gluten Free.  We started down the Gluten Free path a few years ago when creating our smoothing treatments, but are carrying this theme throughout the rest of the product line, as we have received many client requests to do this for our consumers with gluten food-allergy issues.  As a stylist and product creator, although this was a formidable task but I knew I would still could achieve the same great conditioning benefits that gluten-containing proteins create in the hair.  So, we set about creating a new category of strengthening ingredients we call Gluten-Free Proteins.  These proteins still have the same substantive conditioning benefits to the hair with none of the negative side effects associated with gluten.  Again, our crusade is to meet the demands of the marketplace but not waver from our continuous pursuit to create healthy, shiny, younger looking hair.
Sulfates are another ingredient category that have been in the mainstream “bad ingredients”.  Of course, it is really the overall ingredient composition of any shampoo that determines its performance, not just the presence of “sulfates” that are the cleansing agents.  Our formulation team has worked closely with our suppliers to create sulfate alternate shampoos that excel in every aspect including cleansing, conditioning, and prevention of color fadeage.
Not that the replacement of sulfates was easily accomplished, but the clients’ perception is everything and sulfates are now considered to be detrimental to their hair skin and eyes; a fear exacerbated by a long history of marketing campaigns, especially in the salon marketplace, that support this notion.  We took this as a challenge to find a way to not only remove sulfates to eliminate their associated consumer fear, but also as an opportunity to greatly preserve and enhance the condition of the hair.  We created a new natural ingredient surfactant technology based on the use of natural and organic Sugar Cane, Sugar Maple, Apple Seed and Fennel. 
Our approach to cleansing the hair and scalp has always been of paramount importance to us in that we do thousands of hair color services year in our 12 salons ourselves and need to be able to create predicable results once the client purchases a bottle of our shampoo to cleanse at home.  We have always created products to gently cleanse without removing hair color and preserve the integrity of the hair and scalp, but now we are approach has gone to a whole new level.  Our approach is hair cleansing is very much a skin care cleansing approach to hair care cleansing.  Low-sudsing, extremely gentle cleansing but with no squeaky-clean feel to the hair.  Yes, certainly this has taken a bit more redirection and education on our part with both our stylists and our clientele to change their mental paradigm on how they perceive shampoo but it has been worth it.  The positive response to the incredible color preservation and condition of the hair has been overwhelming.  Both clients and stylists alike have been elated by the smooth, silky, brand-new feeling their hair feels after it is cleansed. 
Silicones are now going down this same negative path as Sulfates.  Again, we took this as an opportunity to meet the demands of the marketplace while improving our product performance by employing new technologies replacing silicones with a new condition-enhancing complex we created called the Hydro-charged Pelusi Ceramide Complex, Patent Pending.  This complex is universal and not defined by any textural needs but a unique hair-cosmoceutical break-thru available exclusively in our Philip Pelusi brands.  This potent strengthening and moisture-binding ceramide complex helps repair damaged sites in hair fabric and benefits the scalp to help dramatically restore hair to its healthier state, leaving hair feeling renewed, stronger, silky, shiny and lustrous.  Ceramides renew hair by binding moisture to damaged sites in hair fiber to help keep cuticles tightly intact as it penetrates and replaces missing lipids, reinforcing damaged sites making hair appear shiny and lowering porosity for better protection against heat and chemical damage.  This blend also helps to prevent damage in longer hair by forming a protective barrier against further moisture loss while it resists damage from chemical treatments, styling and our environment.
But creating hair care formulas is a lot like cooking in that one specific ingredient may not be compatible with every recipe.  So we have not completely abandoned the use of silicones in that sometimes they are what are essential to get a certain result on the hair.  When we do use silicones we are very selective and use only the finest grade, Hydrophilic, highly modified silicones that are water and shampoo soluble, therefore cannot build-up on the hair, impede color or prevent positive ingredient penetration like lesser-grade Hydrophobic Silicones do.
Synthetic fragrances are something we started eliminating many years ago, opting for natural fragrance sources.  And although this hasn’t been talked about much in the mainstream, no-synthetic fragrances has been a request among ingredient-oriented clients.  We have also converted to allergen-free fragrances as well with fragrance related allergies have been identified the probable cause in many product related allergies, setting our clients’ minds at ease while giving our P2 by Philip Pelusi the beautifully scented signature allergen free White Tea and Thyme Fragrance.
Petroleum and Lanolin and their derivatives are ingredients we have never used but today is a subject something clients ask about frequently.  We have never used these ingredients as they coat the outside of the hair stand, repel water and the penetration of beneficial ingredients, are not shampoo soluble and in general don’t meet with our philosophy of working with natural and organic derived ingredients that penetrate the hair shaft to strengthen and hydrate from the inside.  If we ever work with exterior hair-coating ingredients such as Silicones or Resins, we only use minimal amounts the finest quality, highly modified, water-soluble grades of those ingredients.  But today, with all the recent anti-petro press out there, it has benefited us never using them in the first place.
And last, going Water Free was a personal choice as opposed to a customer demand but had proven to be successful in winning over this same ingredient-educated clientele.  One of the biggest factors that cause hair color molecules to escape from the hair is water.  Regular tap water that flows from the sink or shower and even the water that is often used as a solvent in professional shampoos is the enemy to artificial hair color molecules.  Even purified water can contain chlorine, fluoride plus also contain other mitigating factors such as Ph and mineral content.  The amount of influence these factors have on the hair and hair color is tough to control.  So, our P2 by Philip Pelusi and Tela Beauty Organics by Philip Pelusi Shampoos and Conditioners are now all Water Free formulas.  Replacing even the Deionized triple distilled water we used previously with Organic Aloe and Organic Green, Oolong and White Tea has proven to get even better results both in the bottle and especially on the hair.  This upgrade has allowed us to achieve an even more highly concentrated ingredient ratio with our shampoos and conditioners coming in at a 90 – 100% ingredient concentration.  The results on the hair condition and hair color retention have also proved extremely good with overwhelming positive from both stylists and clients alike.
For product recommendation and more information contact us at Tela Beauty Organics by Philip Pelusi at either or

About the Author
Philip Pelusi is an internationally recognized stylist, photographer and product artist. Having gone from one salon to 13 locations as well as a magnificent industry centerpiece in New York City, Pelusi has created a philosophy, two product lines, P2 by Philip Pelusi and Tela Beauty Organics by Philip Pelusi and systems for success. Philip created and trademarked, within the industry, the phrase “A Cut Above The Rest” to coincide with his creation of the registered Volumetric haircutting technique around which he built his empire.

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About the Author
Philip Pelusi is an internationally recognized stylist, photographer and product artist. Having gone from one salon to 13 locations as well as a magnificent industry centerpiece in New York City, Pelusi has created a philosophy, two product lines, P2 by Philip Pelusi and Tela Beauty Organics by Philip Pelusi and systems for success. Philip created and trademarked, within the industry, the phrase “A Cut Above The Rest” to coincide with his creation of the registered Volumetric haircutting technique around which he built his empire.

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