Non-toxic beauty, please

Beautiful organic hair colour by Hilton BelMy mother used to say you had to endure pain to be beautiful, as she yanked and pulled my hair into hard rollers for Shirley Temple-like curls. Ironically, I grew up a full-fledged beauty junkie who does not believe in pain to be beautiful – and my mother is actually a grooming minimalist.

As soon as I was old enough, I seized control of my own look and got a blow-dryer. I learned to set my hair on electric rollers. They are still part of my beauty arsenal today. Electric rollers have made a big comeback for their ease of use and ability to give hair big volume with no damage. There was no way I was going to sleep on hard rollers or pull my hair.
Beauty and style take effort, even for the natural beauties among us. Everyone has to exercise, eat right, and take care of their assets, but that’s a far cry from pain and poisoning – and don’t let anyone tell you different.
Luckily darlings, we now have a greater array of choices. Recently I visited a salon for a hair and scalp analysis by experts from René Furterer, an established line from France. It uses essential oils and plant extracts to care for hair and revitalize it. The products and the results are amazing – a gentle, effective, and luxurious way to treat hair.
Capilliscope tells you if your hair is healthyAccording to René Furterer’s experts, the crucial first step to recommending the best products for your specific needs is analyzing your scalp and hair. They use a special tool called a Capilliscope. Based on visual and tactile observations, this machine can determine concerns such as sensitivity of the scalp, weakened roots, split ends, and healthiness of hair.
I found this a helpful process as I had been reacting to harsh salon products. I wanted to see if there had been extensive damage to my hair. Luckily there had not been, although my hair was dry. You don’t have to take the technician’s word for it; they actually show you your hair’s roots and explain all the stages of hair growth to you. I assure you that what they said jibed with everything I have learned from my many interviews with top medical experts in the field of hair loss.
I agreed with their analysis: my hair was dry and the ends needed to be cut off.
Rene Furterer regimeThey gave me a great massage, to stimulate my scalp, and conditioner made of natural ingredients, to revitalize my hair from the inside out. My hair looked and felt amazing. I can continue the treatments at home, which I intend to do, or in any salon that carries the line. I have become addicted to their massage treatment, which you can read about at You can also take their quiz and get started on your own regime, if there is no salon near you.
Hair colour is under going a quiet revolution – and not a moment too soon. If you colour your hair at home you may notice warnings to test for allergies and sensitivities. But when you go to the salon, no one ever bothers to test for allergies. After years of no problems, and admittedly gentler stylists than I have recently encountered, my head has begun to itch and burn when colour is applied. Some stylists have told me it was because I am getting older. Others said my hair was getting darker and “needed” stronger chemicals.
My hair is very easy to colour, but I do react badly to too many chemicals. So I decided to investigate. I found out that many women react badly to the high amounts of ammonia in permanent hair dye. And the stylists know it! Some, such as my last stylist, even mixed packets of sweetener into the hair colour to help prevent the itching. It is this ammonia that makes hair salons smell so darned awful in the colour area.
There are options for women who don’t want to itch and burn, but still want pretty coloured hair. I spoke with Hilton Bell who founded Organic Color Systems, a professional line of ammonia-free color. It was the first ammonia-free line in salons around the world with a full range of natural shades full-range of shades. Mr. Bell’s company did extensive research, and found out that most hair colour reactions – up to 99 percent, according to their results – came from ammonia.
“The clients reported everything from itchy, burning scalps, to feeling foggy and light-headed for up to three days," Mr. Bell told me. He assured me his system can give women all the lift or grey coverage they want without harsh chemicals. He can’t guarantee no one will be allergic, but as one who has burned and itched, I think this is a brilliant start. It is also better for the environment.
L’Oreal Professional has just introduced INOA. It stands for: Innovation, No Ammonia. It is a breakthrough technology that, according to L’Oréal Professionnel, results in better-preserved hair fibers and leaves your mane as smooth as before color was applied.
L’Oréal Professionnel INOA was introduced in Europe to positive reviews from beauty reporters and consumers. High-end salons that tested it in the U.S. are equally enthused. The color shades reportedly wonderful, and they are also said cover gray excellently. The itching, burning, and horrible ammonia smell are gone. Hair treated with L’Oréal Professionnel INOA also supposed to stay silky smooth.  L’Oréal Professionnel INOA is now available in the U.S. and Canada.
After my recent bout with a burning scalp at the salon, I made an appointment with a new salon that uses organic hair colour. It wasn’t easy to find. I think that is all changing – and not a minute too soon. I have heard that most major hair companies are working on ammonia-free colour. They’d better be; women are too smart too poison themselves.
My mother was wrong. You don’t need pain to be beautiful. You need brains.
Don’t miss the next, when our series on non-toxic beauty continues with home hair colour and better, safer skin care.