Fairfield County Edition

Sparkle with a Natural Beauty Regimen

Your Whole Body Will Thank You

Butternut squash, sea salt, seabuckthorn and olive oil. These are some of the ingredients in holistic skincare, haircare and nail products that organic-seeking estheticians and salon experts in Fairfield County are now offering their clients. Seeking to enhance natural beauty is becoming more like receiving therapy for the body.

“It definitely is therapy,” says esthetician Jennifer Ciamei, who owns Ciamei Wellness Center in Trumbull. “It’s a lifestyle change and it’s about making time for yourself to create perfection for you. And it’s using what’s on this earth, not creating chemicals. I feel like everybody is starting gradually to change, but it’s a very slow change. There are not a lot of people who are educated enough with skincare and haircare.”

Know the facts

Pop culture includes magazine photos and billboards of models and actresses showing off flawless skin and hair, often selling harmful products that can include parabens, parafins and petroleum- and alcohol-based ingredients.

Education is what more people need, according to Dr. Lisa Singley, owner of Natural Health and Wellness Center in Stratford. As a naturopathic physician and acupuncturist, she sees patients for pain management, issues with the endocrine system, hormonal imbalances and digestive disorders. Some of these problems can stem from products people use every day, including moisturizers, makeup and shaving foam.

Parabens, which are used as preservatives in many cosmetics, have been shown in some studies to act as endocrine disruptors. They can mimic certain hormones like estrogen and have the potential to signal breast cells to grow differently from how they normally would. In a study released in January 2012, parabens were found in nearly all breast samples from breast cancer patients, according to a research team led by Dr. Philippa Darbre from the University of Reading in the U.K.

“I tell my patients to stay with those products that have ingredients that are readily identifiable; versus something that would appear in the Merck Index,” Singley says. “If the ingredients are also foods, they should be safe to use topically; that is assuming, of course, there are no allergy concerns.”

Natural Cosmetic Chemistry

Ciamei, who is a certified esthetician, cosmetologist and massage caregiver, formulates her own cleansers, haircare and cancer-care products to fit her individual clients. Called natural cosmetic chemistry, all the products are less than two weeks old. She combines a spectrum of basic ingredients to cover 15 different skin types and 20 different hair types, from ages of about 15 to 80. Skin products also vary from season to season to adjust for the changes in temperature, humidity and sun effects. 

One of the newest cleansers she uses on some of her clients includes the pulp and skin from butternut squash. With anti-inflammatory properties, this squash is formulated for very sensitive skin and rosacea, and contains nutrients like folate acid, Ciamei says. “It feels good, it smells fresh and it lightens liver spots, age spots and acne scarring, but it’s not harsh like an acid,” she says. She adds that many products in drug stores include synthetic chemicals that are often used in industrial equipment to grease gears or stabilize pesticides. “And we can all agree that an ingredient that effectively scours a garage floor may not be the best choice for a facial cleanser,” Ciamei says. 

Hair, Skin Care With Flowers

For hair, Ciamei’s treatments include cucumbers, lavendula flowers and cranberries that provide protein in the hair bulb/root. Jasmine doesn’t weigh down hair, and can keep it from falling out or breaking. A lemongrass plant enzyme shampoo is commonly used to treat oily hair as it medicinally gets rid of sebaceous cysts, she adds.

For skin products, Ciamei also uses protein from cucumber and cranberry plants, which add tightness, collagen and elasticity. She uses red Caribbean salt to help alleviate skin with eczema or psoriasis. Mango butter works for healing irritations due to cuts, bruises and poison ivy. 

Peartree Organic Salon Owner Grisel Cruz opened her first salon in the early 1990s. Eight years later, she bought the Peartree salon in Darien. In 2010, she began implementing a holistic mindset and attitude of “doing no harm” to creatures or the earth. She became certified in yoga and, in 2012, the new organic salon was born, focusing on natural ingredients.

“When clients come here we want them to experience a different way of approaching beauty,” says Cruz. “And we allow you to be your own personal trend setter, choosing hair styles and colors that suit you, rather than following the latest new thing.”

Peartree offers a non-surgical facelift, which is a micro-current treatment that stimulates the production of collagen and skin rejuvenation. The natural and safe technology was developed in Japan, Cruz adds.

At Salon Aponte in Monroe, Owner Nancy Aponte started using organic and natural products about 13 years ago, more than a decade after she bought the salon. She recalled the toxic fumes and chemicals she breathed in decades ago. “I thought, ‘But this is what I do and what I love to do, so I have to find alternatives.’ ”

Aponte searched the internet and went through trial-and-error runs with various products. Now she uses alternative shampoos and conditioners that do not include parabens, plastics, SLS (sodium laurel sulfate) or pesticides. The products are free of animal testing and animal by-products. Her clientele includes many recovering from or dealing with serious illness and they appreciate her concern for their wellbeing. 

“I want people to realize that every single thing people put on or in their body will have a result in their health,” Aponte says. “Top-notch quality beauty products that are safe really make a difference to your health.”

Hair Coloring

At New Canaan’s Synergy Salon, Owner Michele Maestri-Murphy opened her business about nine years ago. She began going eco-friendly with little things, like using cornstarch on people’s necks after a haircut, instead of talc powder and serving organic teas and coffees in glass cups, instead of paper cups.

For hair coloring, Maestri-Murphy found an herbal product, spun by a chemist, which was healthier than traditional hair color. “I then knew I could create the salon of my dreams,” she says. “People are realizing what goes on their bodies goes into their bodies and consequently the environment as well.” She now offers several different color lines and works with individual customers’ concerns, situations or allergies. 

Peartree and Salon Aponte both use the Organic Color Systems products for hair color. Made in the U.K., the coloring product is regulated by more stringent guidelines and policies, and includes no ammonia or harsh chemicals. Aponte adds that some of the certified organic ingredients include chamomile, grapefruit and wheat protein. It does not include the toxic color pigment called resorcinol, she adds. 

The new coloring products differs from products of the past by eliminating ammonia, which blasts open the outside cuticle layer of hair so the coloring can seep in and in the end creates damage, Aponte says. 

Nails That Shine

Cleaning and polishing nails can also be natural. Cruz at Peartree offers manicures and pedicures in baths of Epsom salts with essential oils, instead of chemicals that some other salons might use. Coconut oil is also used to exfoliate feet or soften cuticles. 

For nails, Salon Aponte uses a toulene-, phthalate- and formaldehyde-free polish, called 3 free, and nail polish remover which is 100 percent biodegradable and soy-based. 

Naturopathic physician Dr. Marvin Schweitzer of the Wellness Institute in Norwalk has this to say about using any unnatural ingredient, “As far as I’m concerned, anything you put on your skin and on your hair should be something that is so healthy for you that you’d be comfortable ingesting,” Dr. Schweitzer says. “Because guess what? We do ingest these products through our skin and lungs and digestive tract. There are membranes everywhere that absorb these products, including cosmetics.”

This holiday season, stick with the experts of today and enhance your natural beauty more healthfully. 

Angela Pascopella, a 25-year journalism veteran, resides in Fairfield County and is also managing editor for a national, trade publication for school administrators.


Gift Ideas for a Taste of Natural Beauty

• Ciamei Wellness Center: Complimentary cucumber and cranberry facial with purchase of the new fall and winter hair- and skin-care line.

 • PearTree Salon in Darien: $16 organic jojoba oil that protects hair from the damaging effects of blow driers and flat irons. Customers can refill the bottle as needed at the salon.

• Salon Aponte in Monroe: Specials on Facebook and smaller stocking stuffers include gel-based candles.

• Synergy Salon in New Canaan: $65, one-hour long scalp massage with certified organic oils, topped off with a professional blowdry.


Healthy, Natural Moisturizers

• Take plain yogurt, mix in ½ tsp of turmeric and apply to your face. Leave it on for about 20-30 minutes, until it dries, then rinse and wash. Or 

• Mash fruit, such as apples, grapes, berries. Add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (aloe can be added for dry skin) and apply to face. Leave on for 10 minutes and rinse. 

Source: Dr. Lisa Singley

• Use a few drops of olive oil at night or in the morning to moisturize your face. Or

• Mix an egg with a few drops of milk to act as a natural facelift. Let it dry and then rinse.

Source: Jennifer Ciamei

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