Hair, Skin and Nails, the Natural Way
Local Pros Specialize in Safe and Healthy Beauty
Melanie Nickels with client
In the world of beauty, where women spend between $471 and $3,500 annually on personal care and grooming—for everything from cosmetics and facials to eyebrow shaping, hair color and straightening—who would imagine that turning heads and boosting self-esteem could include hidden health costs? Natural Awakenings checked with several Southwest Florida hair stylists, estheticians and salon owners dedicated to natural products and services to learn how they avoid health challenges while helping clients safely look and feel their best.
Melanie Nickels, a hair stylist for 14 years, woke up to the potential hazards of her profession in 2004 when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Nickels, owner of Raw Hair by Melanie, saw the light when she learned that her husband’s cancer was partly caused by exposure to chemicals he used in his business. “When I realized that the chemical side effects of staying beautiful included health threats for me and my clients, I began investigating organic hair color and perms in order to offer healthier options,” says Nickels.
Many hair-coloring products combine hydrogen peroxide with ammonia to create a chemical reaction that opens hair cuticles, decolors existing melanin and allows the dye to penetrate and develop. By the time Nickels fully understood that the fumes from the ammonia could take her breath away in more ways than one, she had developed asthma.
“I was a healthy athlete and unfortunately, didn’t realize that my asthma was the result of the chemicals I breathed in daily,” notes Nickels, who created her own line of Raw Hair Organics. “Most products were a combination of synthetic and organic, so I developed my own totally organic line,” says Nickels. “All my clients have converted and love how their hair feels and looks.”
LaDonna Roye, a hairstylist specializing in hair color, uses Organic Color Systems on clients who ask for it. “My Natural Awakenings clients expect organic color, which lasts as long as conventional and covers the grey very well,” says Roye, who experienced a health challenge with one of the ingredients in conventional color products. “I dropped a canister of powdered bleach on the floor and carefully swept it up,” explains Roye. “The following day, I felt like I had a serious respiratory infection and discovered that inhaling the powder had burned my lungs.” She adds that within the last 20 years, many stylists have given up their profession due to skin rashes, headaches and respiratory problems.
Julie Chandler attributes her increased salon business to a more health-conscious public. “Despite the soft economy, we have tripled our business since opening in 2009,” says the owner of Salon Shangri La. The salon’s services now include organic airbrush tanning as well as an organic nail spa and a new, formaldehyde-free hair straightening process, which lasts up to three months.
Women who want to enjoy natural curl, rather than fighting frizz, are turning to a new straightening process, which softens, shines, and makes hair healthier. As temporary as its conventional competitor, the new process no longer uses formaldehyde, which can cause irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes in the nose, headaches, a burning sensation in the throat and difficulty breathing. It can also trigger or aggravate asthma symptoms. Mida Ademi, stylist at Salon Zenergy, offers salon products such as Pravana Naturceutical Perfection SmoothOut Solution to transform frizzy, coarse or curly hair into soft, smooth locks. She also uses ammonia- and fragrance-free hair color.
Certified Brazilian Keratin Technician Betty Ann Mighell, owner of Studio 37, emphasizes that the keratin treatment she uses replenishes hair. “It is 88 percent keratin, or liquid hair, that protects hair from water and heat damage, while enhancing its natural shine,” says Mighell, a styling specialist who developed a patented formula for determining a woman’s most feature-enhancing hairstyle.Regular encounters with even minute amounts of toxins have a cumulative effect in the body. “Whether toxins enter through the lungs or skin, they are processed by the liver, which removes them from the bloodstream to store or neutralize,” advises Deborah Post, a registered nurse practitioner and founder of Wellbridges. Knowledge and experience with the effects of long-term toxic buildup such as chemical sensitivities, allergic reactions, asthma and eczema have led Post to suggest that clients reduce their toxic exposure. “Few people realize that a 10-minute shower without a filter is the equivalent of drinking a week’s worth of chlorinated tap water,” says Post, who urges individuals to read labels and do online research on chemical compounds containing xenoestrogens; hormone disruptors that affect the endocrine system.
“Using organic and natural hair care and personal care products, eating organic foods and taking supplements are important steps in helping the body to do its job of processing and eliminating toxins,” emphasizes Post. Periodic detoxifying cleanses are also beneficial.
At A Health & Beauty Clinic, LLC, Esthetician Amber Keller uses natural skincare products such as the Aloe Vera & Herbal Body Wrap Treatment to unclog the lymphatic system, purify the blood and help flush toxins from interstitial fluid. The wrap targets the elimination of toxins hiding in fat cells by using enzyme-active aloe vera and food-grade herbs with a high content of antioxidants, vitamins and marine minerals. The 100-percent natural treatment eases the joint pain and muscle aches associated with major detoxification programs.
"Clients usually add my oxygen facial, containing 87 vitamins and minerals,” says Keller, who notes that the added benefit of 10 to 15 wraps is a visible reduction in cellulite.
An Ayurvedic purification procedure known as panchakarma is the specialty of Christina Carlin, owner of the Ayurveda Massage & Yoga Institute. The series of five treatments is designed individually for each person’s body constitution and health challenge. “By combining this seasonal and systematic treatment for dislodging and flushing toxins from every cell with good nutrition, proper exercise, meditation and breathing practice, one can nurture good health, keep toxins from accumulating and adhere to the age-old principle that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” says Carlin, who also offers an Ayurvedic facial to cleanse, increase circulation and enhance lymphatic flow. Much like reflexology, massaging facial, skull, neck and shoulder reflex points stimulates organs and systems in the body. Carlin mixes her own natural ingredients for facials and panchakarma.
Dori Stephens, a licensed massage therapist and esthetician offering the Bellanina Face Lift Massage, uses natural botanical products to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize. Intensely relaxing and stress reducing, the anti-aging facial massage includes a honey mask and essential aromatic oils. Acupressure, contouring strokes and lymphatic drainage eliminate facial tension, which causes wrinkling.
In 1996, Kara Bartoy, esthetician and owner of Kara’s Skincare, All Natural Skin Care Studio, turned to organic skincare after suffering second-degree burns from two different chemical peels done by physicians. Conventional skin products were out of the question after that, so Bartoy purchased Epicuren skin products from her esthetician. “Facials and natural products helped to heal my face,” says Bartoy, whose services include facials, natural nails and organic airbrush tanning.
Tamara Nixon, an esthetician for 11 years, uses natural and organic skincare products, as well as the cutting-edge Revitalight System, which stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, two crucial proteins that give the face a firm, smooth appearance. The cool temperatures of the LED infrared system that passes its light through the skin are not harmful. “The advanced light technology helps diminish the visible appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots on the face, neck and hands,” says Nixon.
These local professionals all agree that the best thing about natural and organic products for curling, color, care, control and revitalization is what they leave out: No ammonia, parabens, sulfates, plastics or animal products show up in ingredients, and no product is tested on animals. Most of these safe, effective beautifiers even smell good.
Local Resources for Natural, Holistic Beauty
Raw Hair by Melanie, 4156 Tamiami Trail N., Naples 34103. 239-206-0939.RawHairOrganics.com.
LaDonna Roye, 12980 Tamiami Trail N., Ste. 18, Naples 34110. 239-254-9100.LaDonnaRoye.com.
Salon Shangri-la Organic Salon & Spa, 3440 Renaissance Blvd., Ste. 6, Bonita Springs 34134. 239-949-9030.SalonShangri-La.com.
Salon Zenergy, 2950 Tamiami Trail N., #4, Naples 34103. 239-262-2820.
Studio 37, 501 Goodlette Rd., Ste. B-104, Naples 34102. 239-263-5434.
Wellbridges, Inc., 17595 Tamiami Trail S., Ste. 108-14, Fort Myers. 239-481-5603.
Amber Keller, A Health & Beauty Clinic, LLC, Moorings Professional Bldg., 2335 9th Ave. N., Ste. 303B, Naples 34103. 239-659-9100. HealthAndBeautyClinic.net.
Ayurveda Massage & Yoga Institute, 848 1st Ave. N., Naples 34102. 239-450-6903.
Dori Stephens, 5051 Castello Dr., #218, Naples 34103. 239-777-9917.NaplesMassageTherapy.com.
Kara’s Skincare, All Natural Skincare Studio, 6306 Trail Blvd., Naples 34108. 239-262-5110. KaraSkinCare.com.
Tamara Nixon, Tamara’s Skincare & Massage, 1044 Castello Dr., Ste 102-B, Naples 34103. 239-692-8994.
Purely You Spa, 3066 Tamiami Trail N., Ste 302, Naples 34103. 239-331-8266. PurelyYouSpa.com.