Holistic Hair Studio opened February 1, 2016 in the Plaza Del Sol building in the Village of Oak Creek (VOC), at the corner of Bell Rock Boulevard and State Route 179. The address is 6050 State Route 179, Suite 3, Sedona, AZ 86351. The salon is open daily, by appointment only – call (928) 202-0774 to schedule your appointment with owner Lisa Hunter.
Conscious Sedona recently sat down with Lisa to find out more about her chemical free hair salon:
CONSCIOUS SEDONA (CS): Hi Lisa, how long have you lived in Sedona and what brought you here?
LISA HUNTER (LH): My husband Steve and I moved to Sedona in May 2014. We came here to visit friends and you know how the story goes … we fell in love with the red rocks and here we are!
CS: Yes, I certainly know how that story goes! Where did you work previously?
LH: I started out at my father’s salon in San Diego when I was five. Since then I made a career out of it. San Francisco, Las Vegas, Utah and back to California. I’ve had three salons. Then we moved to Oregon and I took a break for a while. Sedona sparked my creative juices again, but I knew I couldn’t go back to chemicals. Everything had to be different.
CS: Can you explain what a chemical free salon is, for those that are not familiar with the concept?
LH: It means that I don’t use anything toxic on me, my clients or in the salon. That includes shampoos, hair treatments, and hair color. Even my cleaning supplies are non-toxic. I avoid all cosmetic chemicals. And I do my research; just because a bottle says organic, doesn’t mean everything in the bottle is non-toxic. For hair color, I only use Ancient Sunrise pure henna, cassia and indigo. Every batch of henna, indigo, and cassia is sent to an independent laboratory to be tested for lead, pesticides, contaminants and adulterants. Many products sold as henna contain metallic salts and toxic coal tar dyes. Even henna products which carry a “natural” or “organic” label may have unlisted ingredients and contaminants. The FDA does not require these companies to list ingredients!
CS: I know, it’s terrible. I am so thankful for conscious business owners, like yourself, with a strong vision and a commitment to going the extra mile to meet their own standards, irregardless of what our government mandates. Can you share some of the chemicals found in typical salons, and their health risks?
LH: The list is endless, but a few of the worst are: para-phenylendiamine (PPD), propylene glycol and formaldehyde, three common ingredients found in hair color. PPD toxicity has been linked to life changing allergic reactions and to Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My father, who was a hairdresser, died of this cancer. Also, cosmetic companies are putting silicone in everything. It may make the hair feel good temporarily, but it actually suffocates it.
CS: I’m so sorry to hear about your father. Was his experience what made you go chemical free — or did you yourself suffer health effects from chemical products you were exposed to in previous salons?
LH: His experience contributed to my decision, but yes, I also had serious health effects from exposure to these toxic chemicals. Sometimes when giving a chemical service I would feel so drugged it would frighten me. I also had a chronic cough from the hairsprays and other products. But most of my career I did not make the connection that I was working with dangerous chemicals since they are so accepted in the industry — they were essentially invisible to me. I had a health crisis at a certain point, and my doctor told me my liver counts were way off. Since I don’t use alcohol or drugs he assumed it was from 25 years of using hair chemicals. That’s when I made the connection between my own symptoms, my dad’s death, and the risks of cancer and other illnesses that those that work in the hair salon industry expose themselves to. I then made the firm decision that if I opened another salon I would not use chemicals.
CS: So your decision to go chemical free benefits not only your clients, but yourself and any future staff. It’s a win-win for everyone! How does your color treatment actually differ from typical hair color treatments?
LH: We use henna to color hair. The chemical hair colors used in typical salons will open the outer layers of the hair shaft and lighten, then deposit, color. It’s quite effective and takes little time to process, anywhere from twenty-five to forty-five minutes. As chemical color oxidizes, the color usually fades. The hair is usually in worse condition than before.
Henna, on the other hand, is a plant (also known as Lawsonia inermis), which has been used for thousands of years to dye hair and for body art. Its leaves are crushed into a powder which is then used for coloring. The other plants I use are indigo and cassia. We can achieve black, brown, blond or red depending on your starting color. I blend these plants to create an individual mix best suited for you. These plant mixtures bind to the keratin layer like a stain on wood. It can take as long as two to six hours to reach the desired color. As henna oxidizes, it deepens with time and always results in stronger, thicker hair, and better condition than before.
There are many factors involved; what you mix the plant powder with, hair porosity, medications and product buildup that will effect the process. It’s trickier than you might think. That’s why I’m glad to have my hair theory skills behind me!
CS: Wow, you make me want to henna my hair (I have not dyed it in many years due to my own sensitivities)! Would I have to wait in the salon while the henna processes on my head?
LH: No, since henna and the other plants used for hair color are completely safe, you can go home and let the color develop there if you desire since the processing time can last up to six hours. You can rinse the henna out in the shower or come back to the salon and I will do it for you.
CS: Does henna cover grey hair?
LH: Yes, henna will completely cover grey safely and beautifully.
CS: Is henna permanent or will it rinse out?
LH: Henna is permanent. New hair growth will need to be touched up usually every four to six weeks.
CS: What products do you carry for sale to the public?
LH: I carry the full line of Innersense Organic Beauty. Their products are plant based, containing certified organic and biodynamic ingredients selected for their nourishing, hydrating, anti-oxidant, and anti-aging properties. All formulas are free of harsh, irritating chemicals typically found in commercial hair products, such as formaldehyde, PEG-8, petrochemicals, phalates, propylene glycol, and paraben.
CS: Do you have a target clientele?
LH: We appeal to people with chemical sensitivities, of course, pregnant women, anyone challenged by illness, and really all women and men who care about their health and have made the connection between the products they use on their hair and body and long term health and environmental consequences. There are so many environmentally aware and health conscious people in this community, so our approach is very much aligned with the Sedona lifestyle.
CS: Is there anything environmentally friendly about your studio as far as materials go?
LH: Yes, I painted the studio with VOC (volatile organic compounds) free paint, have tile flooring, full spectrum lighting, infrared lamps, and almost all the furniture is re-purposed.
CS: That is so great to hear! I can’t wait to come visit your salon. What were some of the challenges of opening up a non-toxic hair salon?
LH: I had to come to terms with going 100% chemical free. A part of me wanted to take the easier route and so I tried a couple of so called “organic” and “non-toxic” professional chemical hair color lines. Intuitively I knew this was wrong for me, but I tried them anyway. Of course my body yelled at me and I stopped. Then I got really serious about henna mixes and studied with people online, practiced on friends and family, and even went to Hawaii to work with a woman who is a master at pure plant color. Now I am 100% in sync with what my heart wants. Life is a teacher!
CS: Isn’t it wonderful when you can execute your vision in complete alignment with your value system?! Has your health improved in any palpable way since switching to non-toxic hair products?
LH: Yes! My chronic cough is gone. My liver counts are better. However, I’m still very sensitive to chemicals in cosmetics, perfumes, cleaning products and other chemicals, and so I avoid them.
CS: I used to be severely chemically sensitive and I used brain retraining programs and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to greatly reduce my reactivity to low levels of chemicals in everyday products. If you are interested in addressing the toxic brain injury behind chemical sensitivity, please check out my website LimbicRetraining.com to learn more about these programs. So, is your husband on board with your chemical free lifestyle?
CS: What else do you do to support your health these days?
LH: Without driving myself crazy, I eat as organic and clean as possible. I love swimming, hiking, yoga and going on evening walks with my husband. My spiritual life is the most important. I’m always on the lookout for a negative thought or feeling that tries to take me down. When I catch it, I start life over.
CS: That is incredible – and is what the brain retraining programs I mentioned above are really based on… taking inventory of negative thought patterns and emotions and rewiring our response to external stimuli. Wonderful that you are already doing it! What do you love most about Sedona?
LH: I love the small town sense of community here. The people are so friendly and the beauty is astounding!
CS: Is there any service that your salon specializes in?
LH: Make-overs! I think what I do best is look at the whole person. Not just the hair. I look at body frame, lifestyle and personality. A hairstyle has to fit into the whole picture. Along with that, my passion is using plants to color hair such as henna, cassia and indigo. These plants in pure powder form, mixed with different fruit acids, produce the most amazing hair color that actually leaves the hair in better condition than before. I’m so excited about this!
CS: Fun – I love makeovers! Can you share how much is a hair cut, and other services you offer?
LH: A woman’s shampoo, hair cut and style is $35 – $40. Men’s cuts are $25. Pure henna color runs $65 and up. We offer a hot oil treatment with infrared lights for $20. Organic brow waxing is $20. Our Deep Pore Clay Mask and Hydrating Honey Facial is $65. Aromatherapy with Head, Neck and Shoulder Massage (30 minutes) is $45. Anyone who mentions this interview when they come in will get 25% off of any service. Call (928) 202-0774 to schedule your appointment!
CS: Thank you so much for this generous offer to our readers, and for sharing about your new studio Lisa! I know I am personally excited to come in — I have recovered from severe chemical sensitivity myself and although I am able to go into regular hair salons now, I much prefer to support chemical free businesses. I just want to thank you on behalf of all chemically sensitive and health oriented people for opening up your studio, and for your commitment to providing non-toxic services in a health-supportive environment. Blessings on your new venture!