Fort Worth's Urban Organic Hair Designs Environmentally Conscious Owner
By Julie Thibodeaux
Hair dressers have long relied on toxic chemicals to curl, straighten, color and bleach hair. As a result, green-minded customers who wanted hair salon services haven’t had many eco-friendly options. Gail Lockwood, owner of Urban Organic Hair Designs in Fort Worth, wants to change that as the owner of one of a growing number of eco-conscious hair salons in Dallas-Fort Worth. In 2006, the 45-year-old stylist had been in business almost 20 years and loved her job. But she began to observe a disturbing trend when she went back to visit former coworkers at the salon where she launcher her career. “I started seeing them having to wear masks because they were having problems breathing,” she said.
She blamed the harsh chemicals they’d used in their profession over the years. Taking it as a wake up call, Lockwood began researching the chemicals found in the hair products she was using. She was already something of an expert because of her training. “As a cosmetologist, you have to have so much background in chemistry,” said Lockwood. “I have to know how the chemicals of a perm and the chemicals of hair color are going to react on the hair.”
After digging through articles she found on the Internet, she compiled a list of ingredients typically used in hair products that she wanted to avoid that were also drawing concerns among researchers. Her hit list included harsh detergents such as sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, used in shampoos. She also wanted to avoid ammonia used in hair coloring, along with formaldehyde and parabens used in smoothing treatments and other hair care products. (below Annie Leonard " The Story of Cosmetics"
Stacy Malkan, communications director for Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, agreed that all of these chemicals have shown cause for health concerns; however, there is no regulation in the industry to protect workers and consumers. The nonprofit is hoping that the Safe Cosmetics Act, introduced in Congress this summer, will pass, requiring labels on salon products and phasing out chemicals known to have health risks.
In the meantime, Malkan applauds Lockwood’s proactive approach. “I think it’s really important for salon owners to be looking at these issues and educating themselves and their workers,” said Malkan. “There has always been toxicity in beauty products but hair salon products such as dyes, relaxers and perms are at the top of the list.”
In addition to excluding certain ingredients, Lockwood was searching for professional quality salon products that used organic ingredients and that were not tested on animals. At first, she teamed up with a like-minded friend and they set out to create their own formulas and bottle their own products. They even located a lab that would make the products. Although, the partnership eventually dissolved, it boosted Lockwood’s confidence that more was possible.
Over the next several years, she scoured the market for greener products, sifting through the many new products touted as green. She eventually tracked down wholesalers who were making professional hair products she could promote. Although, she admits they still contain synthetic ingredients, including synthetic dyes. “You can’t be 100 percent natural and organic, however, the products I use today do considerably less damage to the hair, to the ozone, to the body. The hair is healthier than I’ve ever seen it,” she said. Lockwood is hopeful that as demand for more eco-friendly products grow, hair salon products will continue to improve. “If something comes up that is safer for the environment and safer for my clients, you betcha I’m going to be changing products. I consider myself my client’s watch dog.” (photo organic color system)
Urban Organic Hair Design is located in Studio 110 at the Victory Arts Center
801 Shaw St Fort Worth,Tx. 76110 This is right off of Hemphill and Shaw.
Below are a critique of the Story of Cosmetics and a rebuttal of the critique
Rebuttal of the Critique
Julie Thibodeaux is a Fort Worth-based writer covering green trends, sustainable living and environmental issues. Previously she worked as a writer and editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.