Simply Organic got its start five years ago when cancer struck several members of two close-knit Minnesota families.
"Our dads asked 'What the heck is going on?" recalls Jeremiah Mostrom, sales director for the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based company and the son of one of Simply Organics' co-founders. "They started doing research on health and wellness, and stumbled across the fact that there are a lot of ingredients in personal-care products that are questionable in terms of how they affect your body."
One of the fathers had been a top executive with haircare companies such as KMS and Graham Webb. The other had a background in finance. And one of the mothers was a hairdresser. So they decided to use their collective talents to start a line of products without synthetic ingredients like sulfates, propylene glycol, DEA and parabens — products that would be healthier for hair stylists and their customers. I
A Sampling of Organic Haircare Products
Innersense Pure Essential Hair Bath
Innersense Pure Inspiration Daily Conditioner
Mia Simone's Boutique Locs Coils Waves & Curls Moisture Rich Styling Souffle
The Simply Organic line now includes four shampoos, four conditioners, five styling products and four treatments, with certified organic ingredients such as olive leaf extract, honey and essential oils.
"Organic beauty products become a part of the changes you make in your lifestyle to live better," Mostrom says.
Welcome to the world of green beauty.
Beauty companies from large to small now are offering products with certified organic ingredients in response to consumer demand for healthier products that go on their body, not just on their dinner table. According to the Natural Marketing Institute, 45 percent of consumers believe that the personal-care products they put on their skin are just as important as the healthy and natural foods they consume.
"We like to say you can feel good about looking good," says Evan Brody, marketing manager for John Masters Organic Haircare. "You can care about your body and the earth and still have fantastic hair."
Companies such as Simply Organic, Innersense, Modern Organic Products and John Masters Organic Haircare offer organic haircare products. Kiss My Face recently launched a certified organic hair care system, with shampoos, conditioners, hair types and styling mousse. These products contain ingredients grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation.
They are tapping into a market segment called Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) -- an industry estimated at $228.9 billion. LOHAS consumers make conscientious purchasing and investing decisions based on social and cultural values. They are interested in products ranging from green building supplies to eco-tourism to yoga.
Consumers are becoming more educated about natural and organic products and the dangers of chemicals, says Mia Licata, a retail marketing specialist at Kiss My Face, a full line of natural and organic personal care products available in the mass market.
"Consumers are driving it," Licata says. "In the mass market world, there's now a strong interest in organic products."
Jodi Billet, vice president of marketing for California-based Dessert Essence, launched an organic, vegan haircare line a year ago and says "We can't keep them in stock."
The skin absorbs approximately 60 percent of any substance applied to it, and there is growing concern about ingredients in some personal-care products. According to industry experts, on any given day a consumer may use as many as 25 different cosmetics and personal-care products containing more than 200 different chemical compounds.
Most of the "organic" products contain certified organic ingredients along with other natural ingredients. They usually are free of ingredients such as sulfates and parabens or artificial colors or fillers.
"Natural and organic ingredients do the same things that we depend on chemicals to do," Licata says. "Instead of chemically derived ingredients, we add things like chamomile and lavender. They are soothing to the scalp, and also make the hair more manageable. ."
Licata says Kiss My Face does make a line of skincare products that are 100 percent organic, called Obsessively Organic.
Modern Organic Products (MOP) products are not 100 percent organic but contain as many certified organic ingredients as possible, says Leslie Jablonski, publicist for MOP.
The ingredients used in MOP vary by product, says Jablonski. For example, C-system Hydrating Shampoo contains certified organic mango and grapefruit extracts. C-system Texture Lotion contains certified organic elderberry, alfalfa and rosemary extracts.
"We like to put in ingredients that are more environmentally friendly, and our preservatives are food based," Jablonski says. "We try to mix modern technology with old technology to make things as eco-chic as possible. What's good for the environment is good for you."
The organic haircare industry is attracting industry veterans such as Greg Starkman and Judie Maginn of Innersense, a completely natural, organic line of hair and skin care products. They launched Innersense this spring, using their 40 years of combined experience with companies such as Redken, Joico and Helene Curtis.
"We think of our company as a consciousness and a culture," says Greg Starkman, co-founder and manager partner of Innersense.
Coming from the traditional haircare industry, they saw a need for products that were natural and gentle, yet effective. Technology, and the explosion of organically grown ingredients, have helped fuel the industry, Maginn says.
"In the past, natural products were available but the quality wasn't there," Maginn says.
Maginn says most of the ingredients in Innersense products are certified organic and wildly harvested. When there is a need to use other types of ingredients, natural ones are chosen, Maginn says.
"We're not saying all chemicals are bad, but we are saying we can limit our exposure," Maginn says.
When John Masters started styling hair out of high school in 1975, he didn't think twice about handling harsh salon chemicals. But as he embraced organic foods, he began to investigate the dangers of chemicals such as sulfates and ammonia -- staples in most hair dyes and highlighting treatments.
"I believe synthetics have a place in this world, but not in or on the body," says the SOHO hairstylist, who stopped giving perms and began concocting natural hair products in his kitchen made from essential oils and plant extracts. He launched his line 1991.
"For my first wholesale order at Barneys New York, I filled every bottle by hand with a funnel," recalls Masters
Today, Masters has a full line of organic haircare products -- products like Sweet Orange and Silk Protein Styling Gel, Bourbon Vanilla & Tangerine Hair Texturizer and Honey Hibiscus Reconstructing Shampoo. The products are wildcrafted, Brody says.
"The way they're taken out of the ground is more earth friendly," Brody says.
Natural and Organic Market - Facts & Figures
- The natural and organic personal-care industry is expected to grow 26 percent a year to $11 billion by 2009, according to the National Marketing Institute.
- There currently are 82,000 chemical compounds used in consumer products.
- At least 39 percent of the U.S. population purchases organic products.
- Recent market research revealed that an astonishing 97 percent of salon owners polled said their customers would be interested in products based on natural and organic ingredients.
- Eighty-five percent of salon owners said they were concerned about their daily exposure to chemicals in the workplace.
Some Valuable Web Sites
The Organic Trade Association is the membership-based business organization for the organic industry in North America
Organiclinks.com is the global resource for organic information.
Environmental Working Group, which investigates threats to health and environment.
The Center for a New American Dream helps Americans consume responsibly to protect the environmental health and environmental justice for all.
The Beyond Organic radio show features everything about buying, growing, eating and cooking organic food.
At Safecosmetics.org, you'll find alerts, tools and information you need to make sure you use safe health and beauty products.