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Natural Awakenings Fairfield County & Housatonic Valley CT

Organic Hair Care: A Safer Alternative

Aug 27, 2013 02:06AM ● By Ana Mercedes Kranzlin

Every woman has experienced the proverbial bad hair day and many women struggle to find the right hair color and products. According to, an estimated 75 percent of American women color their hair and increasingly, men are following this trend.

These days choosing to color may not be such an easy decision, once people consider the harmful chemicals found in many conventional hair products. For example, a 2011 study completed at Brigham Women’s Hospital, in Boston, suggests a link between the childhood use of hair oils and perms and the early onset of puberty in girls due to exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Also in 2011, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a report about long-lasting keratin hair straighteners and smoothers that expose people to a significant amount of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen and potent allergen.

Concerns about the contents of hair color date back to the 1970s, when consumers were alerted to the dangers of ingredients such as coal tar and benzidine, both known carcinogens. Most manufacturers changed the ingredients in hair dye products to eliminate some of these chemicals, but many of the substitutes, like ammonia and parabens, have since been linked to a variety of medical conditions.

Ammonia-free hair dyes are becoming more popular. Commercially available brands such as Herbatint, Light Mountain, Aveda, and Morrocco Method Int’l proclaim an organic and holistic approach to hair care. However, it is always important to research claims and read ingredient labels carefully. EWG offers a guide to chemicals to avoid in hair care products and rates a large number of brands according to the safety of their ingredients (

Local Salons Offer Non-toxic Hair Care
It is now possible to enhance appearance without endangering the environment, or ourselves thanks to a number of safer alternatives to chemical-laden products. Several salons in Fairfield County have proactively chosen natural and organic products after realizing the dangers of exposing their staff and clients to the dangerous ingredients in conventional products. Here are the stories from a few local salons that have made the change.

Salon Aponte
Salon Aponte, awarded as the number one eco-friendly salon in Fairfield County in 2012 by the New Haven Advocate, has offered natural products to its clients for more than a decade, when owner Nancy Aponte realized the dangers of being exposed to ammonia. The salon now offers organic beauty aids including New Jersey-made Karma Organic nail polish and polish remover, free of toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phalate, as well as Kettle Care all-natural shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays and gels made in Montana from ingredients grown without herbicides or pesticides. Moroccan Organics shampoos, conditioners and oils are also available.

Salon Aponte uses Organic Colour Systems (OCS) from England. “This color works just as a traditional color would, but without the caustic exposure to ammonia or its derivatives,” says Aponte. “Ammonia blasts open the cuticle of the hair so the pigment can seep in, whereas with OCS, the use of a warm dryer takes its places and slowly allows the color to penetrate.”

Location: 838 Main St., Monroe. For more information, call 203-261-2838 or visit

Peartree’s Salon
Peartree’s Salon journey to become an organic and eco-friendly place started when owner Grisel Cruz became a yoga teacher. “We want to be able to provide services with organic, more natural products that are good for our clients and the environment,” she enthuses. Organic Salon Systems certifies Peartree’s staff. The salon also has a refill organic shampoo and conditioner program to help reduce plastic bottle consumption.

Cruz is excited to discover innovative natural products such as Crystals, an application of vitamin C that removes chlorine, mineral deposits and buildup from hair products to leave just shiny, healthy hair.

Location: 1950 Post Rd., Darien. For more information, call 203-655-7444 or visit

Intrigue Salon
Sally Goldstein, owner of Intrigue Salon, which has served Fairfield County for 11 years, switched to natural and organic products when she was pregnant and realized the chemicals she was using in her salon could be harmful to her child. This, along with a realization that more clients seem to be susceptible to allergies and skin sensitivities, prompted her to look for alternative products that would still deliver great results.

“We believe the best way for someone to know how a product works is to educate them prior to using it on their hair,” states Goldstein. One brand used at Intrigue is the Maraes color line, which she affirms is free of parabens, para-phenylenediamine, gluten, sulfates and ammonia. “It features certified organic Monoi de Tahiti oils instead; it is safe for all ages and hair types and gives 100 percent gray coverage,” she says.

Location: 1275 Post Rd., Fairfield. For more information, call 203-254-1015 or visit

Synergy Salon
Michele Maestri-Murphy, a 23-year veteran hairstylist, has been interested in nutrition, health and wellness throughout her life. “After a few years of being in the salon environment, I became concerned about all of the toxins I was being exposed to and feared what the long-term effects would be for my clients and me,” recalls Murphy. “I decided to meld my passions to create a more conscious salon.” After much research and preparation, she opened Synergy Salon in 2006.

Synergy provides herbal color, pure henna, henna with gray coverage and other hair products—all free of the toxic chemicals found in conventional salon styling, such as dimethicone, DEA, EDTA, artificial fragrance and phalates. The salon uses Derma Organic and Bamboo brands and occasionally creates treatments from fresh produce and other farmers’ market goods.

“The response to the salon concept has been wonderful,” Murphy enthuses. “People are very thankful to have an alternative.”

Location: 53 East Ave., New Canaan. For more information, call 203-966-5655 or visit


Ana Mercedes Kranzlin is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings who resides in New Canaan.


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