Adoptive father of two African American kids creates product line inspired by them

free your mane

Israel Segal's kids were the inspiration for his product line.

Three years ago, Israel Segal adopted fraternal twins—Nola, their daughter and Ziggy, their son. They aimed to provide them with the best, from wholesome formulas to organic foods. There was only one problem—what should they use on Nola and Ziggy’s hair? The children are African American with natural coils and kinks, unlike their Caucasian parents.

“I go to the store and I was shocked to find that a lot of the products were the same old products that were there when I was a teenager—sulfates, parabens petrochemicals or even natural chemicals that just wouldn't work at all,” Segal says.

Read about another transracial family.

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Segal has spent the last 25 years as a stylist in the fashion and beauty industry, so his background and connections helped him find the best possible chemists and perfumists. Instead of giving them the financial constraints that result in cheaper, low quality products, Segal’s constraints were ingredient-specific. None of the low-quality filler oils, no pore-clogging greases. They may get the job done in the short term by adding immediate shine, but it’s not good for the long-term health of the scalp and hair, he said.

Free Your Mane products

Free Your Mane products

“I liken it to putting Miracle Grow in your grass—it'll make your flowers look pretty but afterward your soil will be stripped of all its natural nutrients,” he says.

Segal worked with his team for three years, tweaking and testing the product in various salons as well as on his own daughter.

“I didn’t even get their hair braided—I wanted her hair out so I could test the products!” he said.

Free Your Mane has six products to help in all aspects of our hair regimen. From cleansing to detangling and styling, Free Your Mane keeps four key ingredients consistent throughout the line: sweet almond oil, pomegranate seed oil, Argan oil, and baobab oil. These four botanicals work to soften, protect, and nourish the hair with no greasy feeling.

Israel Segal

Israel Segal and daughter Nola.

“I finally had products lined up that was I was wildly proud of,” he says.

Free Your Mane, now available for purchase from his website, was not simply inspired by his children—he actually uses all the products on his daughter. He recognized that highly textured hair doesn’t receive the natural oils from the scalp, so the Sulfate Free Shampoo gently cleanses. While the hair is wet, he finger combs or uses a wide-toothed comb to detangle with the conditioner. The Hydrating Hair Masque is a deep conditioning treatment to repair very dry hair.

“To style her hair, I usually sweep it back in a ponytail using the Conditioning Pomade, dress the ends to be curly with the Reviving Spray and use the Daily Detangling Conditioner as a little bit of a leave in to make her coils pop,” he says.

Along with Free Your Mane, Segal started SE%EN, the nonprofit division of Nola Industries, Inc., named after his daughter. Seven percent of the line’s profits will go back to existing non-profits that serve the African American community. Segal is passionate about U.S. adoption, of course, and wants that to be a focus.

“It’s crazy that someone would go 5,000 miles away to adopt a child when there are about 70,000 kids in foster care here in LA county alone,” he says.

SE%EN also plans to support HIV/AIDS education and support the HollyRod Foundation for autism.

“These are things that are near and dear to my heart and we're open to suggestions as we develop,” he says.

As a parent, Segal felt the need to keep hygiene and beauty safe, he said. He wanted to provide his children with the tools to help their natural texture flourish and hopes Free Your Mane will allow all of us to do the same.