When we at Après Avant first embarked on our journey of conscious living, we voraciously scanned ingredient labels and immediately put down products that featured anything with a synthetic-sounding name. But that was then, and this is now. Now, as we’ve learnt, we know that there are natural ingredients that are harmful. And synthetic ones that are safe.
This week, we interview Yoel Vaisberg, the founder of Haielle, a young hair care brand with only two offerings for now: the more natural Active Botanical Concentrate and the biotechnology-backed Complete Recovery Complex. Upholding the balance between nature and science, Yoel spent three years perfecting his company’s formulations, with plans to launch more shampoos, conditioners and styling products in the near future.
The Active Botanical Concentrate itself is made up of 29 plant extracts and oils like baobab, ungurahui and abyssinian oils (which we ask more about below) while the Complete Recovery Complex post-shower solution contains active ingredients designed to keep scalp stem cells healthy for optimal hair growth.
Encouraging consumers to think about their hair and scalp routine just as much as they do about their skincare regimes, Haielle is first and foremost a believer in holistic living: “Our definition of beauty transcends the concept of plain aesthetics — we believe that it encompasses our way of life, of what we are and how we express ourselves, of our interaction with the natural and social environment.” And that is a philosophy we should all get behind.
What does “Haielle” mean and how did you pick the name?
It took us approximately three months to come up with a name for our brand. The founding and creative team had several philosophical sessions of brainstorming, trying to put in words what beauty means to us. We all agreed that beauty is intrinsically linked with our lives. We just needed the right wording. We were also looking for a name that could be understood and pronounced in different languages, and that was available to register the trademark in the US.
Our first attempt was to name the brand VIDABELLE. “Vida” means ‘life’ in Spanish and “belle” is a universal word for beauty. We later found out that a few weeks before our request, a brand registered VITABELLA in the US and the names were too similar, so we dug deeper into our roots and came up with the ancestral Hebrew version of life: “chai”, which has a beautiful and powerful message that means living life with joy.
Tell us more about your Active Botanical Concentrate and Complete Recovery Complex, and how they are unique from other hair and scalp offerings made with essential oils and wholesome ingredients.
The uniqueness of our ABC and CRC relies on their synergistic action when combined as a duo. They merge the universe’s gifts to help in restoring our balance. These are the healing properties of natural ingredients conveyed through the natural oils and plant extracts in the ABC; and the human talent for scientific progress, leveraged in our industry to develop clinically proven active ingredients included in our CRC.
We at Haielle combined them to bring to life safe, effective and result-oriented products, acting in perfect synergy to promote fuller, thicker, stronger and healthier looking hair.
How does the CRC Complex make use of biotechnology “to increase the life span of hair follicle stem cells, and to protect and maintain the function of scalp stem cells”?
I don’t want to get too technical on this one but the CRC is formulated with a patented active ingredient called PhytocellTec™ that comes from a rare variety of a Swiss apple called Uttwiler Spätlauber derived from a seedling planted in the middle of the 18th century. This species of apples can stay fresh for months. It is a very rare and endangered apple variety with only a few trees left in the world. Through biotechnology, it is possible to cultivate the cells of this apple for cosmetic use. In vitro studies have shown that this ingredient increases the lifespan of hair follicle stem cells and helps the epidermal stem cells to maintain their stem cell characteristics (“stemness”).
“There are hundreds of ingredients that can be used in cosmetic products and that would fall under the safe-synthetic classification.”
Tell us about the baobab, ungurahui and abyssinian oil ingredients. What are their benefits for hair and scalp?
All 15 vegetable oils used to formulate our ABC have amazing properties. They all have in common a rich amount of vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids and antioxidants, which are the fuel that our scalp needs to grow fuller, thicker, stronger, healthier hair. These oils also hydrate, enhance manageability, repair damage, restore elasticity and enhance the shine of hair. The oils’ composition varies, so we combined them by compensating their attributes to make the most of each of them.
Baobab is one of my favourites. We spent two days last year in the northern communities of South Africa, close to the border of Zimbabwe, where we met producers and learned about this fruit’s superpowers. It not only has cosmetic benefits but has been used to feed rural communities for centuries.
The ungurahui is a palm tree native to the Amazon rainforest. It has a high concentration of oleic acid (omega-9). This nutritive oil is renowned for its remarkable ability to nourish and moisturise the skin and hair.
Abyssinian oil comes from the Mediterranean region and eastern Africa, particularly in the area originally called Abyssinia, which today is known as Ethiopia. It’s famous for it’s high content (50-65 per cent) of erucic acid.
What are your thoughts on synthetic ingredients that are safe to use in beauty products?
Regarding the safety of ingredients, we always check for ingredients that are not proven or suspected to be harmful. There are hundreds of ingredients that can be used in cosmetic products and that would fall under the safe-synthetic classification. Some of the functions that our favourite safe-effective ingredients have are surfactants, emulsifiers and hair conditioners. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an excellent source to check for ingredients safety.
An increasing number of skincare brands now utilise conscious, clean ingredients in their formulations. How do you think hair care brands compare?
I’ve learned from beauty experts that even among people aiming at adopting a healthier lifestyle, changing their hair care routine is usually the last thing on their minds. I find this surprising since our scalp is an extension of our body’s skin, and therefore it deserves the same awareness and conscientious care as everything else. It is also true that our hair says a lot about us. It is part of a first impression, and a factor that has an impact on our self-esteem.
In the hair care category, there is plenty of room for improvement regarding formulations and technology. Users should also keep educating themselves and demand more from brands. This will generate a positive spiral in the category.
Apart from your own, what are some hair products in the market that you use and what do you love about them?
We love products and brands that share our approach to beauty. I particularly like hair masks formulated with natural butters such as shea, cocoa and coconut; as well as natural oil blends which are highly hydrating. We are also fans of essential oils and plant extracts with therapeutic properties.
What do you consider a good hair care routine?
Embrace your hair’s characteristics. Don’t try to mimic someone else’s look. Read labels and ingredient lists, avoid using products with harmful ingredients, avoid overuse of products, and avoid excessive application of chemical treatments such as keratin and straighteners, among others.
“Our scalp is an extension of our body’s skin, and therefore it deserves the same awareness and conscientious care as everything else.”
What does conscious living mean to you?
Living your life with purpose and being aware that each one of us is a piece in the universe. Understanding that everything that surrounds us — other people, plants, animals, the environment — are part of the system as well. Once we understand this concept, it is much easier to live and behave properly in this world. We always need to keep in mind that each decision we make and every action we take will impact the system in a positive or negative way.
Images courtesy of Haielle