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Safe and Beautiful Hair Color, Beverly Hills Style

Occupational Hazards

Susan touches up a regular client's vibrant red

Always the intrepid investigative journalist, I braved crosstown traffic to respond to a tip about a salon using all natural hair color. Shades Natural Hair Color Studio was founded by Susan Henry in 2006. She was a very successful colorist, with hundreds of Hollywood A-list clients. But around 2001, she became so ill from ammonia poisoning, she could no longer work in a salon. Inspired by her daughter’s botany studies, she developed an ammonia-free, all-natural product in order to continue doing the work she loves.

Susan carefully selects each product she carries and uses in the salon, interrogating the manufacturers even as they avoid divulging their secret formulae. Her products are also sold online, and she just released a boxed version of the home coloring kit which may soon be available in stores. The colors I saw on other clients were lovely, and I immediately recommended it to a friend who is prematurely grey and has been coloring her hair for ages.

In the photo, Susan touches up the gorgeous red on a regular client.

Tina explained to me that many of their clients are cancer survivors who understand as few others do the traumatic effects of the chemicals in our lives. While the health of clients is important, I could not help but think about the health of the stylists who spend the majority of their waking hours inhaling all manner of toxic chemicals. Unlike other salons, I walked in and smelled nothing, even with color clients present. And of course they didn’t have the ubiquitous Prop 65 warning on the door. I recalled a nail salon I’d visited in Spain with such poor ventilation I could barely stand it, so this was a real treat. The nail polish Shades uses is free of toluene and formaldehyde, and the mani included a wonderful oil & sugar scrub.

World Peace Through Beauty

the product line
Being satisfied with my natural hair color (for now), I chose the scalp treatment and green manicure. Thursday was a rough day in my life, and these are tough times. I was a wreck Friday morning, so it felt wonderful to be pampered. I was clearly reminded of how important it is to take care of myself, even when the money’s tight. Pulling out of a funk, it’s easier to spot opportunities and actually see the bright side.

Gia did such an amazing job it completely changed my outlook on life. Not only did she rub one of Susan’s special hand-mixed oils into my scalp and hair, she also gave me the most thorough shoulder massage I’ve had in ages. I could’ve skimped and left with oily hair, but I wanted the full treatment, so I also got a fab blowout which always impresses the natives here in LA. I’d rushed out of the house without makeup, so even with gorgeous hair, I wasn’t in the mood to be photographed. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Good Chemistry

I couldn’t help but recall Andrew Dent’s speech from Sustainable Brands ’09, where he stated that as a scientist and Vice President of Material Connexion, clients simply weren’t in the habit of asking for the sustainable innovations. He explained that once clients began asking scientists to develop materials with specific properties, particularly around environmental impact, they could do it. If we never ask for it, nobody will know there’s a need to develop it.

Written by Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.

2 Comments

  1. Natural hair color that is safe and plant based can be found at most natural food stores now. I am so grateful folks are starting eco grooming businesses like this. Traditional salon haircolor and over-the-counter brands are so toxic so it is wonderful to find a non-toxic alternative for those of us who love to change colors.

  2. I went green with my hair color over 2 years ago. While it is a bit pricier to go to a stylist who uses organic hair color, it is much safer for the hair and body. I also think it’s great the safe hair color are available at health food stores…just don’t know if I am brave enough to dye my own hair yet!

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