When it comes to natural and organic beauty and personal care products, you usually get what you pay for. Yes, you heard that about commercial products, too, only to find out the face cleanser that took an entire weekend of tip money worked no better than the Clean & Clear you had been using since you were 14. Unfortunately, with natural products, price often reflects quality. The reason is pretty straightforward: it’s much cheaper to create synthetic ingredients in a lab than it is to source them from nature, let alone from a certified organic farm. Organic ingredients are expensive to sow, expensive to reap, and therefore expensive to buy. You can bet your precious, rapidly-depreciating 401k that more companies would be all over this natural/organic thing if it were cheaper to do.
That’s what makes it newsworthy when I stumble upon a rare exception to the Organic = Spendy rule of thumb, in the form of Max Green Alchemy. They’ve kept their line of skin and hair care simple, focusing on the basics like one shampoo, one conditioner, one hand cream, and so forth. The MGA conditioner was the first natural conditioner I found that actually made my hair soft and manageable. Everything else I had tried thus far, particularly in that price range, left my hair dry and dull (I know I totally sound like an infomercial; my apologies). My husband, whose skin reacts to everything, is equally in love with the line. Oh, and did I mention the packaging and aromas are gender neutral? How about that – you and your partner, regardless of gender, can share in the joys of Max Green Alchemy together!!
The creators of MGA also keep careful watch over their ingredients to make sure nothing is synthetic, no quality is compromised, and no animals are ever tested anywhere along the manufacturing process. I was fortunate enough to get a bit of time on the phone with one of the co-founders, Wil Baker, to learn how they went about creating what I think is easily one of best lines of natural, affordable skin and hair care. Here is an exerpt:
How does one go about creating the perfect formula for hair products, body products, etc?
WB: We do two types of testing. The first is to make sure they are safe. Manufacturers test our products to make sure the ph is correct, and that [they fight bacteria]. And then we test their performance by asking people, every time we’ve come up with a sample, we’ll ask people to try it and tell us what they think about it. Current customers, friends, family, as many opinions as you can get. Sometimes we’ve given out samples people love right away, but the shampoo was the longest to get to market – about 12 months just to get to market. It’s a complex product to manufacture. You have a trade-off with shampoos. You want mild detergents to stop the scalp from drying out, but people are fixated on foaming, even though foaming is not a big part of the washing process. People don’t think their hair has been cleaned if it’s not foaming.
How would you distinguish MGA from some of the other natural and organic hair products in the market? What makes MGA unique?
WB: Our departure from the way others formulate is not in the various scents or aromas. For us, it’s important that every single ingredient has a purpose. So when you smell our products, each of the essential oils that creates the aroma has a therapeutic purpose. For example, tea tree and lemon tree are extremely anti-fungal, and fungus is thought to cause dandruff. Rosemary is thought to keep hair color intact. Lamodil is very healing, and gives hair a very healing boost. Geranium, which is a great essential oil for the hair, has anti-fungal properties and acts as an astringent. So people with oily scalps will get some relief.