Nancy Scuderi began going gray when she was 16.
At age 39 the Orange County native decided to ditch the hair dye and embrace her natural silver hue, and she hasn't looked back for 26 years.
"I adore my gray hair," the spunky, 65-year-old business woman and grandmother told me from the floor of the Cosmoprof North America trade show in Las Vegas.
"Over the last 10 years I've tried 50 or 60 different shampoos and conditioners, looking for a formula that would make my gray hair look great, but it would always come up brassy," she confides.
The idea of taking matters into her own hands never crossed Scuderi's mind, until one day last year when she was pulling together a presentation with her daughter and niece for a few coffee clients at their consulting firm Cobalt Professional Associates.
"I stopped working and said 'I can't deal anymore, I am having such a bad hair day!'" The meeting was soon derailed as the women talked tresses, complaining that there was nothing on the market that fully satisfied each of their specific hair concerns. "And then we had this realization," says Scuderi. "As consultants, we solve problems for our clients, so why can't we do the same thing for ourselves!"
The three turned to the very ingredient that they were consulting on – coffee.
"Coffee has a pH that's similar to the hair and skin," says Scuderi. She found out that many hair and skincare products have an alkaline pH, which can cause the hair shaft to become dull, rough and brassy.
"The hair cuticle has a shingle-like texture of overlapping cells," says Scuderi. "When its pH is out of balance, the shingles open and you lose your shine." Open cuticles also allow chemicals and pollutants to enter the hair shaft, where they can affect the cortex, the layer of the hair that provides strength and moisture, along with the medulla, the inner most layer of hair that effects the way each hair strand interacts with light, giving it color.
Coffee, which like our hair and skin has a pH of 4.5 to 5, allows those shingles to lay flat for exquisite shine, and retains the hair's color and hydration levels.
And with that, Barista Bath and Body was born, the first full line of natural hair and body products made from raw, organic coffee. The paraben, sulfate and phthalate-free line launched on July 12th with eight products that harness the benefits of coffee, which, besides its pH benefits, acts as a gentle exfoliant and astringent.
Perk It Up Shampoo, $16 for an 8 oz. bottle, is formulated not only to deliver shinier hair, but also to revitalize body and texture. "I wanted a shampoo that gave me volume because your hair thins out as you get older," says Scuderi.
Soothe Those Jitters Conditioner, $18 for an 8 oz. bottle, has a slightly acidic pH to grant the hair a positive charge to compact the cuticle and ensure the hair is soft and shiny, with no extra weight.
Barista just launched a week ago, but the response has already been positive.
"I brought the products in to my hairstylist," says Scuderi. "She was skeptical at first, but then she washed and conditioned my hair with them and remarked on how smooth her hands felt after using it." The blowout came next. "My stylist couldn't believe how much volume my hair had without adding any extra styling product," she says.
But the biggest clamor came from the neighboring chairs. "Everyone remarked on how shiny my hair looked, and wanted to wash their hair with it too."
And with that Scuderi walked out of the salon with bouncy, shiny gray hair, with nary a brassy strand in sight.
Barista Bath and Body is sold online at B3products.com.
Gray and proud? Read about other women who believe it's OK to go gray.