Caring for Naturally Curly Hair
Finding good hair products that don’t contain a lot of crazy ingredients is hard enough; finding them for curly, kinky hair textures sometimes seems impossible. Although there’s finally a revolution of black and multi-ethnic women embracing our curls, the mass market seems to think we all want straight hair. Not true. And thankfully, niche brands like Blended Beauty is answering the call for good quality hair care (for curly textures) without including the more questionable ingredients.
Canadian, Stacey Canfield, a former vaccine technologist, created Blended Beauty when she was home on maternity leave with her last child. Determined not to watch daytime soaps for a full year (maternity leave afforded Canadian mothers-to-be), Stacey sought ways to keep herself busy. She asked a neighbor who owned a natural skincare line to show her how to work with natural ingredients to make hair care products. Stacey thought it’d be great to make creams and conditioners for her own curly hair because she’d been dissatisfied with what she’d found in stores.
Stacey found the switch from working with biological medicines to natural ingredients an easy one. Soon she was making products for herself, and handing them out to family and friends. As enthusiasm mounted for her hair care, Stacey realized she had a budding business. But she needed to learn a few things about preserving and selling natural products.
She didn’t want to create a line that would need refrigeration because of the ingredients. But she didn’t want to process natural ingredients until their benefits were no longer apparent. “I didn’t want to be like some of the big brands that try to trick you into thinking something’s natural when it’s not,” Stacey says. “Like the new shea butter oil – it’s not natural. Shea butter is solid. Something would have to be added to keep it liquid. If you don’t really look into it, you’ll be tricked.”
Stacey experimented with various natural preservatives and came up with what works well for her and her customer base. As the business grew, Stacey had to hire manufacturers. But she found that most didn’t have any knowledge of natural ingredients. “These companies had been in business for 30 years, but my products were so different from what they are used to working with – I had to teach them how work with natural ingredients.”
The manufacturers were bothered that each batch wasn’t the same color. And that the consistency was sometimes slightly different. But these are common with natural products.
The one area where Stacey says she wishes she could be completely natural is fragrance. When Blended Beauty was first brought to market, Stacey used synthetic fragrances. As she learned about the controversy surrounding synthetic fragrances, she switched to all natural essential oils. But her customers weren’t happy.
“Even though I sent out newsletters to educate my customers on why we were switching, they didn’t care. They liked the scent we had originally and they weren’t interested in flowery or herbal scents.”
Stacey says she noticed another marked difference with synthetic fragrances compared to natural scents. “The natural fragrances degraded so quickly. Three months on the shelf and the product didn’t keep the smell,” Stacey says. “Base notes will stay for a long time, but the middle and top notes diminish. And some natural oils break down the preservatives. It affects the integrity of the finished product.”
Stacey says she uses very small amounts of fragrance because she doesn’t want heavily scented products. And she buys only the highest grade of fragrances.
“Some customers don’t care at all whether a product is natural. And others want everything in the product to be natural – which is very hard without refrigeration and airtight lids.”
We asked Stacey if she sees herself in chain stores, like Whole Foods, in the future. “Yes, I do want to move from just Internet and salon sales to bigger stores. But I don’t want my customer service to become less personal. Now I’m able to assist every single person who sends me emails and pictures asking for help.”