Behind the Brand with Ahnesti Haircare
Ahnesti Haircare line is salon performance with green chemistry created by former hairstylist, Lorri Weisen. She believes that the beauty industry should be honest, trustworthy and transparent, so she created a hybrid haircare line that embodies her philosophy. We chatted with Lorri to find out more about one of our newest additions to the Clementine Fields lineup and to learn more about her journey from salon owner to green beauty founder.
Can you tell us about your experience as a salon owner/hairstylist? How did you get into the business of hair?
It was actually on a whim that I became a stylist. I was a bartender for 12 years and needed a life-change. A stylist friend said to me, “Hey you’re creative, why don’t you try cosmetology?” The next day I signed up!
I’ve always had a desire to be my own boss and knew after I put my behind-the-chair hours in I wanted to be a “booth renter”. As I searched for places to rent a chair, I kept driving by a “for lease” sign in a really great strip mall. One thing led to another, I signed a lease and built out a ten-station hair studio. I was up and running the first day with five other stylists and the business just continued to grow to full capacity. That was in 1998. When I closed in 2012, four of the original stylists were still with me as we left the building!
I loved owning a salon but my husband’s health declined and I became more aware of my health and the toxins I was being exposed to. The salon was no longer aligning with my values of toxin-free living. It was time for a change and to move on to AHNESTI as a full time gig.
Was it challenging to create a salon product that’s non-toxic and still lives up to your professional haircare standards?
Yes! I interviewed a dozen manufacturers and chemists and the last one I spoke with (my current manufacturing facility) finally aligned with my vision. I gave him a list of exactly what I wanted and what I wouldn’t tolerate (I still have this!), and he was up for the challenge. It took 6 months of formulating and testing before we nailed it.
Toxin free, non-GMO, vegan – all of that was important but equally as much, it had to perform or it wouldn’t be received by consumers. It was a challenge for sure, but I really enjoyed the process. I learned SO much.
What I love about creating this line is that it’s never been done before. No other brand can say they’re EU compliant (or Canadian compliant) with Cosmetic Safety Standards. I’m very proud of that.
Can you share with our readers the problem with haircare and toxic ingredients and why it's important to switch to clean products?
Formulating hair care is much more complex than creating skin and body care. It’s really detailed chemistry. Shampoos require specific ingredients to cleanse and conditioners require specific ingredients to condition. This is why you can’t put coconut oil on your hair and call it a day because we’d all be walking around with oily, greasy hair! The problem boils down to the costs of manufacturing and how a company can get their margins up. It’s more cost effective to formulate with cheap chemicals and fillers than it is with organic, high-quality, “green” chemistry and so that’s what most companies do. Based on this knowledge you would think that a cheaper shampoo contains more toxins than a higher-end one, but sadly that’s not always the case. That’s why it’s important to not blindly trust what a company is marketing to you. Be your own detective and learn about the company, their values, and mission.
Our toxic body-burden is getting higher and higher because of our increased exposure to chemicals. Many of the chemicals used in hair care formulations (sulfates, DEA, TEA, fragrance) are linked to hormone disruption, allergies and even cancers – and we use them on a daily basis. This is a lot of exposure to our entire bodies, and in a warm shower or bath, our pores are soaking it all in like a giant sponge. To add to that, many of these chemicals/toxins don’t biodegrade in our environment and wash right down the drain into our water supply. If we can change even one thing – our hair care choices – we can help create a healthy, clean foundation for our bodies and reduce our negative affect on the environment, every time we shampoo.
How has running a natural beauty line changed your life?
It’s definitely changed it for the better! Every day when I go to work I remember how important it is to live a clean and healthy life, and how much that message needs to be spread. I love the tribe we’re attracting, the amazing companies and customers that align with our values. It seems that people are really jumping on board to green beauty more and more lately and that inspires me!
What’s something most people would be surprised to know about your line?
Hmmmm, that’s a tough question because we are such an open book! Transparency is so important to me and I truly want people to know exactly what they are getting, ingredients and all. Maybe that’s a surprise in and of itself? Either that or knowing a cute little french bulldog named Prince Charming oversaw all the label designing.
Spring is all about a fresh look: what’s your favourite hair makeover tip for this time of year?
I love a classic, simple look that’s still stylish and chic, like a slicked back ponytail. With a little Authoriti Whipped Paste to tame down the frizzes and Utiliti Styling Gel to get mega-shine, it’s a perfect easy look for any spring day. Fresh, easy, and playful!