Atop a stylish raw space decked with celebrities gathered for a ladies night out cover party and book launch a-la Bella Magazine for Kristin Cavallari was a trove of all things beauty. The VIP mezzanine was a playground fit for beauty gods. Glamourous events are always a ball, but between the green room makeovers, hors d’oeuvres, and, recently even chatting with tv darling Shalita Grant, I couldn’t help but be drawn to T’zikal’s beauty bar. What exactly drew the swarm of hair devotees that were either on-camera or behind it to the booth?
According to Morrocco Method, the afro hair industry is worth over $500 billion dollars. With curls that usually adhere to their own rules on any given day, I had to know. After all, the hair industry is one of the only industries that held steadfast during the recession, according to Chron. At first glimpse of the teal and gold label boasting “deep moisture” from Ojon oil that was 96% natural had my undivided. With the barrage of comments, likes, interests, and urban myths surrounding my own coif on a day-to-day basis, and a professional world of appearance-based privilege and opportunity, I had some questions to ask T’zikal founder Tilmann Gruber about big hairy secrets.
What is the effect of using unfiltered water on hair or water with high levels of lead, toxins or chlorine?
"That is a loaded question. It really depends on where you stand on these topics. One thing is for sure, our water is full of chemicals and some of them could have a negative effect on your skin, scalp and hair. Chlorine is known to bond to hair and skin, thus removing moisture and disrupting the balance necessary, helpful bacteria on your body. This can result in dry, irritated skin. It also can contribute to premature signs of aging, such as discoloration and wrinkles. Same goes for your hair. Chlorine strips the natural oils that moisturize the hair follicles. This will leave you with dry, frizzy hair and even a scaly, irritated scalp. It is also believed to speed up the aging process similar to those from extensive sun exposure.
Ojon oil is about hydration, moisture and natural oil levels. In addition, all of our formulations are pH neutral at 5.5 (where applicable). If you want to know the big secret of healthy skin/hair: it’s all about hydration and moisture! Really, sounds simple, but yet it is at the center of it all. Beauty products focusing on that can help, but it also extends into supplying your body with plenty of liquids (and water is probably the best here). I'm sure you know this already. I will come back to this in one of your other questions."
In your experience, how often should those with extremely curly hair wash their hair?
"This is obviously very different for everyone, however, for those hair types I believe in less is more, especially for extremely curly hair. Under normal circumstances (i.e. no gym or sports) I would think once or twice a week. In the end, our hair does not get that dirty during the week. There are a number of people who forgo shampooing and use a conditioner instead. Also, you may want to look for shampoos which are less harsh. Our shampoo is formulated to be very ‘mild’ and ‘gentle’. We also have a blog about this topic here.
I, on the contrary, wash my hair daily as I am working out. Or, because my hair is all messed up in the morning that I need to wet the hair to look presentable. Since I’m in the shower anyway I then give it a quick shampoo. One benefit of our deep hydrating shampoo is the efficacy of the formulation without being harsh. I only use a small dollop of shampoo and it works very well."
Does T'zikal have a sustainable program for sourcing Ojon? If so, please elaborate.
Thanks for asking. This is very close to our heart. Not sure if I shared with you, but my wife is from Honduras. She grew up using the oil and this was also one of our drivers for going after such an ingredient (not the only reason though). We do have a lot of plans around what I call ‘social responsibility’ of our brand. As you may have noticed, we are building this brand as the first mayan influenced prestige beauty brand (at least to my knowledge). We do believe in the heritage of the oil and its efficacy as evidenced by over 500 years of use by the indigenous people of Honduras. We are sourcing the oil directly from the oil producing families in Honduras and intent to continue this practice (we had many opportunities to switch over to a domestic supplier, but we declined). For my wife and I it is about giving back in the most meaningful way. By sourcing from the producing families we make sure that they get 100% of the costs of the oil. No overheads, no agents - direct purchasing. There are about 2,000 families in the rain forests of Honduras (La Mosquitia). Our point is to support the families in Honduras. How important this will become depends on how successful we will be as a brand.
T'zikal's site mentions restorative properties - can you elaborate on how it restores and why it's effective?
"I believe in high-quality ingredients and natural formulations. This is a big part of our brand positioning: the efficacy of all natural ingredients such as ojon oil. Ojon oil performs similarly as olive oil: it penetrates the cortex of the hair strand (unlike jojoba oil which wraps itself around the hair). The idea here is that as the oil penetrates the hair strand it restores and deposits the hydrating properties.
Take a look at our ingredients. You will be able to see the quality of ingredients and their respective properties. As an example: We use Abyssinica Seed Oil which is extracted from the Abyssinica plant. This oil has deeply reparative and protective properties. It gives hair a glossy shine (just like silicone would), and revives and brightens dull skin. Or, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil. This natural peptide has been clinically proven to stimulate collagen production, giving it anti-aging properties, reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
When we started the formulation process we focused on high quality, natural ingredients that supported and enhanced the characteristics of the Ojon oil. As I stated earlier, we do believe that natural ingredients can give you a highly efficacious product."
Have you seen results or dramatic results with the moisturizing shampoo and conditioner featured on the T'zikal site? If so, please elaborate.
"During our formulation phase we have tested each formulation with about 40 testers. I ran a detailed survey and we received a lot of feedback as well. Our test panel was a mix in hair types (all hair types from 1 to 4), hair concerns (chemically treated, oily, dry hair), both genders and mix in race. Almost everyone reported the incredible smoothness and manageability of hair after using our product. I contribute this to the fact that Ojon oil penetrates the cortex of the hair. We also are using the products for ourselves and my youngest son has really ‘coarse’ hair (although straight). After using our shampoo his hair became noticeably softer. My hair (although no problem hair at all) feels so much softer as well. So, I do believe that in many situations it does indeed provide for dramatic results.
During our testing phase we had a number of women with chemically treated hair. Some reported that prior to using our product they experienced a lot of scalp issues and skin irritations due to the harsh chemicals used to straighten their hair. They reported that they used the hair wax to massage onto their scalp, soothing most of the scalp irritations they had. In most instances, they told us that the issues were gone within a week. I’m adding this to highlight some of the more dramatic results using our products (not only the shampoo/conditioner)."
Lastly, how does T'zikal celebrate all hair textures, but specifically those who love quality haircare and also happen to love their unique texture that is the opposite of smooth or naturally straight hair?
"Yes, of course we do. I’m not sure what your final verdict is on our formulations, but you should have experienced a lot of the above. Taking the Andre Walker scale I believe that our formulations (shampoo/conditioner) are good for all hair types (with the exception of naturally oily hair). We are an oil-based product after all.
As with skin care, most of the hair concerns are related to moisturization or hydration! For me, this is the single most relevant property of effective beauty products. As you experienced the product, have you noticed the product enhancing the natural look of your hair (btw, beautiful hair!)? Our formulations are not designed to change your all natural, curly look, but rather give your hair enough hydration and moisture as well as adding this extra shine to your hair. So, as I see it, we are about enhancing the look you love the most. You certainly don’t have to have straight hair like myself to enjoy the formulations. I think our product is about repairing, restoring, and maintaining/celebrating healthy looking hair. All done while using natural ingredients!"