The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 20, 2008

Product tames frizzies without synthetic chems or much plastic

So, you know I switched to the no ‘poo method of hair cleansing a couple of months ago, and it’s been working fine. But I do have the occasional frizzy hair day. I still have over half a (plastic) container of TRESemme styling putty that I purchased long before I stopped buying new plastic, but I quit using it months ago. First, because it contains 25 ingredients, many of which I cannot pronounce, and second, because once I started “no poo” I was worried it wouldn’t wash out properly.

So I was happy to receive an email from Rachel Whitman of the company The Name Is Product asking me to try out her… um… product. It’s a hair styling aide that claims to defrizz, texturize, soften, condition, and glisten using only 5 ingredients: “organic shea butter, pure aloe vera, natural source vitamin E (tocopherol), organic beeswax, and natural fragrance [which turns out to be tangerine oil].”

Now, I’m sure the DIY folks in this group (hey Tracey!) could figure out how to make this themselves. But I’m happy to have it already made up… in a glass jar, albeit with a plastic lid. The company shipped it to me in a padded paper mailer (the kind without plastic on the inside) and wrapped in brown paper. See? Another example that glass doesn’t need to be shipped with plastic or styrofoam to remain intact.

I was a little concerned that Product might leave some residue on my hair that wouldn’t wash out easily with baking soda, but so far it has not. It’s a bit solid in the jar. You scoop out an amount smaller than a pea (well, I do… you long hairs might need more) and rub it in your hands to soften it up. Then run it through your hair. And it really does create a nice, non-frizzy shine.

I don’t use this stuff every day. Usually, I’m in such a hurry, I stick a hair band around my wet hair as I’m running out the door. But on days when I have some extra time and want my hair to look nice, I’ll dry it a bit and then run Product through it to give it a little something extra.

I asked Rachel about the beeswax, since my beekeeper friend has told me terrible stories about the ways some bees are kept. Rachel said her beeswax comes from a company called Stakich, Inc in Michigan, which has been in business for 83 years. The bees come from unsprayed and unfertilized fields of wildflowers, and according to Stakich’s Steven Dushan in a response to me, there is absolutely no “killing the bees. We take the utmost care of them so that they can continue their diligent work of collecting nectar and bee pollen and producing beeswax, honey and royal jelly. If we killed the bees we would be out of business the very next day.”

I also asked about the plastic lids on the jars. Why not recyclable metal? She said that they have not yet found a dark glass jar with a metal lid that would work for them. Anyone have ideas for her?

I also asked Rachel why the label simply lists “fragrance” as one of the ingredients rather than tangerine oil, which is what she herself told me the fragrance was. Here’s her response:

“I totally hear you with that – my husband/business partner liked the mystery of referring to the tangerine scent as simply ‘fragrance’ (people could tell it was citrus, but not what kind). I think with the next run of labels we will change that ingredient to read “natural fragrance.” People ask about it often, so we want to clarify and reassure.”

And finally, you know I like the personal stories behind folks with green businesses, so I asked her to tell me the story about how Product was developed. Here is Rachel’s response. Enjoy.

My husband/business partner, Michael Hacker, actually came up with the original formula (quite similar to the current one) for PRODUCT. Before I even knew him, he developed PRODUCT out of a personal need for something that could give him the styling and frizz-taming he wanted without going flakey or being too slick or too gooey, etc – basically most things he tried left a lot to be desired. So he began looking at ingredients in other hair styling formulas, and was taken aback by how many chemicals were in most.

Not being a chemist, he knew if he was going to make something on his own it would have to be natural ingredients. He started trying combinations of shea butter, aloe vera oil and vitamin E – and found one that worked and began using it. When I was getting to know him, he gave me some to try and I loved it – used it all up and asked him if I could get some more.

He had thought about trying to put it on the market, and we started working together to refine the formula, line up ingredients suppliers, design and produce labeling and packaging, create our website with online store, etc…In our first year out, we received some wonderful magazine press, we had a great response from highly talented editorial fashion/celebrity hair stylists, and we have built a list of salon and beauty store retailers.

We would love to be able to grow PRODUCT into a (small) line – shampoo, conditioner, styling spray, possibly a couple other items – but aren’t able to put the money into R&D yet. Any new products we develop, though, will be organic & natural, high quality ingredients, free of synthetics and irritants. What we enjoy about PRODUCT is that it is pure, and clean, and natural. It’s simple – nothing unnecessary is in there, nothing excess in the carefully balanced formula. And it works so well and feels really great to use.

Only 5 all-natural ingredients, comes in a glass jar, and works. I like it. Now what should I do with the remaining TRESemme hair putty? Ideas?

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13 years ago

Hi Ariane,

You are right! No plastic is best! ALL plastic is horrible for the environment in the manufacturing stage! I handle the product situation as best I can this way:

1. I discourage the purchase of new packaging by offering bulk, reused and fill your own container options. I even overprice new containers and discount heavily for refilling. I show the cost of packaging on the receipt.

2. I choose the least offensive new packaging possible. This means that bakelite is the least offensive cap I can get for my glass jars and bottles. Although it’s plastic with all its incumbent chemical nastiness, it’s also made with wood fibre and other more natural wastes and is more like ceramic in its end of life impact. In any case, my other options are horrible soft metal and plastic composites that are more fragile and more absorbent.

3. I love the storage jars you recommend, but they won’t replace bottles and the bottles I have with that sort of lid are impossible to sanitize for commercial reuse. Plus essential oils eat the rubber gaskets. This is not natural real rubber anyhow – it’s a petroleum latex thingy I’m told! In anycase, I have jars like this inmy kitchen – some 30-100 years old! I bought a large cork for my 100 year old milk bottle. I adore old containers!

I tried for 2 years to sell shampoo and conditioner in glass bottles, but people kept buying plastic crap to fill at the clinic. so I sourced aluminum… against, the best imperfect option I could find.

So given that every container we’ve talked about is highly manufactured, we need to respect everything we’ve got on the planet already and cultivate a culture of repairing and refilling.

Any new packaging ideas, please email me at . I need all the help I can get!

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

13 years ago

@ Anarres Natural Health, bakelite is also made with formaldehyde, which is EXTREMELY poisonous to our environment. I guess no plastic is really safe.

my favorite storing jars are these: [Image no longer available online]

however, i have no idea whether those are even available in the states. you can get them from really tiny (perfect for hair products such as these) to really large (a gallon or so)
theyre just made with glass, metal and natural rubber lids. no plastic involved, no silicon involved, and they can store airtight.

the only downside if youve had them for about 20 years, the rubber lid gets old and actually crumbled into tons of little pieces. but over here they also sell the rubber rings separately.

15 years ago

Jojoba oil is lighter on the hair than olive oil (which I used for years smelling like a salad). Jojoba is technically a wax not oil , or so I’ve read, but it goes on smooth and doesnt leave the hair greasy. You can also add a nice fragrant essential oil to it. Definitely gets the frizz. My latest experiment with making shampoo was a failure but I will keep trying. Anyone have any tips?

15 years ago

For frizzies, I’m been using the smallest amount of olive oil.

Seems to work.

Not great, but functional.

As to your leftover conditioner with extra ingredients…perhaps mail it back to the company with an explanation of why you are no longer going to be using their product.

Best wishes!

Sarah in Indiana
15 years ago

Rather than fragrance, or even “natural fragrance,” perhaps they could put citrus oil on the label. As Rachel said, “People could tell it was citrus, but not what kind.” It think that those of us trained to avoid anything with the world “fragrance” on it would be satisfied by that. And it would add a new element of mystery since people wouldn’t know that the citrus oil was purely for fragrance, it might have essential anti-frizz qualities. :)

15 years ago

For frizzies, let flax seeds soak over night and put the gelatinous goo it makes in an old leftover spray bottle and spray it on. I’m also experimenting with a little sea salt and trace minerals in distilled water, sprayed on for conditioning and natural highlights. Forget containers. Make it yourself.

15 years ago

I started reading your blog a couple of weeks ago having been linked through from Chris at the BBC who is trying to go a month without disposable plastic and is logging all her plastic rubbish.

I have already been inspired to try the Lush shampoo bar, and I have to say, 2 weeks in, I’m thrilled with it!! Normally I try all sort of different shampoos and end up with a scritchy head, but my scalp is feeling much better already.

My husband has been complaining about not being able to find the right styling product for his hair, so I shall point him in this direction.

Not too sure I’m ready to try the baking soda thing yet though, hubby thinks I’m mad for replacing the daily shower spray with a vinegar solution, so it’s one small step at a time!

Green Bean
15 years ago

Nice. I just bought some John Masters Organics hair texturizer that is bourbon (oh yeah!) vanilla orange. Mine has 9 ingredients and also a plastic lid. Looks like you win. ;-)

Anarres Natural Health
15 years ago

Ooops, on second look, that lid looks like high density polyetheleyne. Here's my beloved bakelite option for a 60 ml apothecary blue glass jar, alongside the more harmful metal plastic combo options:

Bakelite is relatively natural and harmless, made from resin and wood flours:

Of course, there's always a lid liner of thing styrofoamy stuff that might someday be replaced with a waste fruit leather type film?

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

Anarres Natural Health
15 years ago

Hi Beth,

Your lid may be bakelite, the oldest, safest form of plastic in my opinion. The lids are made specifically for the jars, so there’s not much in the way of interchanging unless the manufacturer develops options. I have some metal lids, but they deform and often need replacing, don’t hold oils or fluids in, and have plastic components anyhow. Bakelite so far as I know is rock-like and pretty inert in landfill. I don’t think wild life are attracted to it at all. It’s safer than ashphalt when disposed of. It can shatter, but my attrition rate is only 3 or so a year, and I deal with thousands of containers.

If anyone has new info about bakelite, I’d love to hear it.

The ingredients look great, but your correspondent is mistaken in speaking of aloe vera oil – it’s water soluble and comes in gel or juice form only. I wonder what emulsifies the mixture? I’m getting into the lab thing any second now! As for fragrance, that it almost always a euphemism for synthetics and solvent extracted horrors. I wouldn’t even trust the term “natural fragrance”. Uranium is natural – so are the glands of animals and the stress urine of whales, and these are natural fragrances! What’s the harm in just stating that it’s tangerine? Anyone with the sense to copy their recipe would know that:
a) it’s tangerine because it doesn’t smell like orange or mandarin essential oil
b) it’s not a good fragrance to use because it photosensitizes the skin and hair, leading to a risk of burning the kin and lightening and damaging the hair. Unless they have deterpinated it, in which case it’s no longer natural and is irritating on a deeper level. I would use a lavender bulgarian or a cedarwood essential oil. Natural only means not adulterated with chemicals or other oils.

It’s fabulous that they’ve made a natural hair product that demystifies things to a large extent and that comes in a glass jar! I wish that we who make things could get stores and customers to make the leap into refilling things locally. That would make my life feel complete!

15 years ago

Thanks! I might have to give that a try, since I have super short hair that needs a little “product”!

15 years ago

Sounds like an interesting product! For the past few months, I’ve been using coconut oil on my hair once a week to condition it. I usually pick a day I home by myself, slather my head in oil and then wear a shower cap until I’m ready to rinse it out. This works well with my no ‘poo!