This week, we met up with Vi Valdez, holistic hair stylist, to learn about organic and natural hair care
- You have been in the beauty industry for a long time but you decided to switch to organic products personally and professionally. How did that come about?
My family has always worked in farms up north so I’ve always been around agriculture and land. I originally wanted to study agriculture and soil science, work with them and develop my own range of products that would be inspired by nature. I quickly realized that I couldn’t invest that much money into a degree so I decided to go to cosmetology school and use that route to develop products.
By that time, I wasn’t interested in developing a full range of products anymore but my beliefs were still the same and brands were starting to emerge with organic and high quality products so I chose to just work with those types of brands.
Photo Credit: Kavella
- How are organic and natural hair care products better than the alternative?
Your skin is your largest organ and a garden is only as good as its soil. It soaks up everything, from what you put on it to everything around you and your scalp is no exception.
The chemicals that you are trying to stay away from by using natural and organic hair products are sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, ammonia, perfume and in coloring products Resorcinol, PEG, BG, PPD and PPG.
It’s very hard to know what is in your beauty products when they contain so many chemicals. For example, fragrances can mean absolutely anything. All those ingredients can cause severe allergic reactions, dermatitis, hair loss, dry out your hair by stripping it of natural oils and in turn cause dandruff.
When I analyze a client’s scalp I can already tell if they’re using products that contain sulfates, PPD or alcohol. Most people don’t even know they have dermatitis on their scalp and that is what causes severe itching and dandruff.
Photo Credit: Oway
- What organic or natural brands do you love and use?
I use Oway for color. The brand is organic and sustainable, made in Italy from products sourced on their own farm.
For hair care, I use Kavella. I met Ashley, the owner, and we immediately connected because of how much our beliefs align. Kavella is vegan, cruelty-free and all her products are made in small batches by a certified organic laboratory in Southern California from the highest quality ingredients.
For tools I use Enso Tools. The tools you use are extremely important. Enso only sources the highest quality materials and manufacture in Japan and Korea, where they are very stringent on the quality of beauty products.
Most flat irons for example are titanium and only sprayed with ceramic, which last about 50 uses. After that you can be sure the tool will damage and dry out your hair. But Enso tools developed COCCO, the first flat iron to be made of pure ceramic and that product is a dream come true. Enso tools really cares about sourcing the highest quality materials, creating breakthrough products and how they are manufactured.
- What is your favorite product at the moment?
I am obsessed with the Kavella Salty Sugar texture spray. It’s perfect for creating a beachy look without drying your hair like most other texture sprays do.
I love the Kavella Clay shampoo and the Recovery Mask as well. These two products repair a lot of damage, including scalp buildup and help restore healthy hair.
My absolute go-to for tools is Enso’s COCCO flat iron and their Nano Pro hair dryer. That hair dryer sends moisture into your hair while drying it and prevents damage.
Photo Credit: Kavella
- What are some of your favorite tips for healthy hair?
Don’t over or under shampoo. Depending on your hair type, once or twice a week is all you need. Over shampooing strips the hair of natural oils, which dries them out and makes it even more brittle.
Under shampooing to the point where you can see oil and the scalp starts to develop a smell is bad as well. Your hair gets oily and hair follicles get blocked by dead skin, which slows hair growth.
Your scalp is highly absorbent. Shampooing is for your scalp not only your hair! When you shampoo, you need to exfoliate your scalp by massaging it to rid it of dirt and skin build up. Then use a mask and work it onto your scalp to moisturize it.
What do you do after you exfoliate your skin? You moisturize it. Your scalp is the same thing.
- What is your biggest no-no when it comes to hair care?
Never sleep with wet hair. It causes hair loss and breakage but also creates scalp issues. I can tell immediately when a client sleeps with wet hair because the scalp is almost yellow and oozy.
And get a silky pillowcase. It is gentle on your hair and skin and you will notice a drastic improvement in hair growth because it prevents breakage.
- From winter to summer, should we adjust our hair care routine? What is the difference?
Absolutely! In summer you are most likely in the sun more so you need more protection from UV rays. My tip is to not rinse your conditioner all the way and leave about 15% of it in so when your hair dries, it has that barrier of moisture to protect it.
In winter, it tends to get dryer and therefore dryer around your scalp so use a mask on your scalp and hydrate it.
- For our mermaids that are in the ocean a lot, what do you recommend to keep their hair healthy?
That’s a great question; a lot of my clients are surfer babes that spend a lot of time in the ocean. You don’t necessarily need to shampoo every time you go in saltwater but use a mask after. Especially if you are blonde or have colored hair because it is more fragile.
Get trims more often than people that don’t go into the ocean. When you go to the salon, ask for a “dusting”. It is a hair cutting technique that removes split ends and dry bits but maintains the overall length of your hair.
- You have been travelling quite a bit, any travel hair tips?
Yes! Bring your own products, always. Never use hotel or provided products because you don’t know what is in it and they are usually very drying.
I was in New York not long ago and it was cold so my scalp got dry and itchy. But luckily I had all my essentials with me and my Kavella Recovery Mask saved me.
- Organic and natural isn’t just a job for you, it’s a complete lifestyle. Can you tell us a bit about your philosophy on life?
The past couple of years, I completely overhauled my life. I got to a point where I stopped and asked myself who am I, what do I want? I stopped trying to fit in and looked for my true self.
I started reading more, listening to podcasts, meditating every day and just bringing more awareness into my life. That allowed me to ditch toxic relationships both professionally and personally.
I have been sober for almost 2 years. Alcohol is so socially accepted and almost a requirement that I decided to stay completely away from it to detox myself. I got off birth control, stopped wearing makeup to hide my insecurities and adopted a healthier diet.
I’m also a minimalist. I don’t own many material things, no TV, I bike or walk to work. I moved near the ocean because I need the sea in my life.
I am Virian, but everybody calls me Vi. I am holistic hairstylist and friend to all. I love what I do and I’m learning to love myself more and more each day. My advice: Be yourself before anything.