An Organic Lifestyle
WESLEY CHAPEL - Stacy Long lives an organic lifestyle, but it wasn't a desire to join the latest trend that led her to change her way of eating and working. The 35-year-old owner of Stasia's Organic Element Salon in Wesley Chapel changed her way of living and doing business over several years out of necessity. Since she was 17, Long has had eczema, and five years ago the outbreaks became so bad on her hands that her doctor told her she should change professions. The years of working as a hairstylist with ammonia-based hair color, among other factors, had affected her health, and she wasn't getting lasting results with antibiotics, cortisone, antihistamines or ointments. "I had it in my head there has to be another way out there," Long said. After visiting Wellness Works, a holistic medicine practice in Brandon, Long changed her way of eating and living, and she started noticing results."I was still using ammonia-based color," she said. "It was getting better, but it was" slow going. About a year ago, she found out about Organic Colour Systems at a Tony Robbins event that focused on health and cleansing. After further research, she found a salon in Clearwater that used the line of hair color and went there to try it for herself. "I had a little reaction, but it was hardly anything compared to what I had experienced," she said. No Going Back With the positive result, she started using the organic color line on her clients and hasn't turned back. Although ammonia-based color breaks down the protein in the hair in order for the hair to absorb the color, organic color uses oil to do the same thing. "At first, I thought. 'It is organic, but is it going to be good?'" she said. "What I found is not only is it better for you, but the colors are lasting longer, it has great coverage and a great smell." Shortly after she made the switch to organic color and hair care products, Long seized the opportunity go out on her own, and Stasia's Organic Element was born in April. "This has coincided with a big trend going on right now, but for me it was a big journey," Long said. It's a journey that she is happy to share with others. Her story is on her Web site, www.stasiasorganicelement .com, a site Jules Phariss happened to come across while researching organic color. Phariss, a hairstylist at Precision Cuts in Land O' Lakes, had looked for an alternative to ammonia-based color for years and identified with Long's story. "After 25 years of being exposed to ammonia, the chemicals had damaged my body," she said. "I thought I would have to give up my career. My immune system was very compromised. I am very into alternative methods of healing, and I knew I was hurting myself and my clients." Phariss has used Organic Colour Systems for more than a month now, and likes what she sees. "I've had clients come in with destroyed, damaged hair, and they go out with shiny, healthy-looking hair." More Than Hair Long's vision for her salon didn't stop at hair. To help complete the organic experience, she brought in aesthetician Shanna Castellucci to offer organic skin care services using ilike, a chemical-free skin care line that instead uses organic fruits, herbs and vegetables for facials, peels and microdermabrasion. The most noticeable difference between the organic line and nonorganic skin care products can be seen in the way in which the skin absorbs the products, according to Castellucci. "The number one thing you don't realize is your skin is not getting the full product" with chemical-based products, she said. "But with the organic line, the skin takes it in like a sponge." The facial peel, which uses paprika and chili peppers, has the same results as a chemical peel, Castellucci said. Longtime client Carolyn Daly has been very happy with Long's organic transformation. "With the organic color, my hair stays a lot softer," Daly said. "It doesn't dry my hair out, and my hair holds the color better, for longer. I think the colors stay vibrant. They don't dull out." Daly has been pleased with the skin care products, and is a fan of the yogurt power peel. Although the products are more expensive than nonorganic equivalents, Daly says she doesn't have to use as much with the organic products and has found them to be gentle. "I was looking for a better, more natural way to take care of my hair," said Daly, who has had her hair straightened. "It's something I was very conscious of, and it's something I'm very glad she did." The salon also offers massages by massage therapist Ashley Valarezo, shampoos, conditioners and other organic hair care products, and the Isagenix cleansing and fat burning system. Long also would like to find an organic nail care line that doesn't have the strong odor typical nail polishes and polish removers have. Growing Trend Testimonials like Long's from hairstylists all over the world have made their way to Hilton Bell, president and creative director of International Health and Beauty Systems, which distributes Organic Colour Systems in the United States. He says hairstylists have to breathe in the ammonia fumes day in and day out, and its effects can manifest in a variety of ways. For clients, he says, the experience is usually less than pleasant, as well. "Here is Ammonia 101," Bell said. "Ammonia is found in explosives, fertilizer and smelling salts. It's a corrosive chemical. It has a corrosive effect. It weakens the hair's ability to hold on to color." Bell says the organic line, which was developed in England 12 years ago, has taken off in the United States in the past two years. He attributes the popularity to people becoming more aware of what chemicals do to the body and also to people becoming more sensitive to the chemicals. "People in our generation, whether they are 30, 40, 50, have been exposed to a lot of stuff over a lot of years," he said. "They're being exposed to harsher chemicals in household products among other types of products, and it's my personal opinion that they have a greater sensitivity." With a background as a hairstylist of 40 years, Bell says he's proud of the product. "You can do everything you can do with ammonia-based color, and in some cases even more," he said. FOR INFORMATION STASIA'S ORGANIC ELEMENT SALON WHERE: 28949 State Road 54 Westbrook Professional Center, Wesley Chapel CALL: (813) 991-0433 PRECISION CUTS WHERE: 6757 Land O' Lakes Blvd., Wisteria Plaza, Land O' Lakes CALL: (813) 995-2884
For more photos of the salons that offer organics, go to TBO.com, Keyword: Organic Salons.