We recently had the pleasure of speaking to Nancy Twine, the founder of Briogeo Hair Care, our favorite new natural hair care line. Read on to see what she has to say, and remember to enter our giveaway to win a set of Briogeo products!

Hi! Tell us about your line Briogeo Hair Care, and what sets it apart from other hair product lines.

When I first began creating the Briogeo Hair Care line — a major importance to me was ensuring that our line wasn’t just another natural hair care brand  I wanted to create naturally effective hair care products that perform as well as salon quality brands do.  It’s something that me, my friends and family struggled finding.  Despite the numerous number of natural hair care lines that have launched over the past several years, we weren’t happy with the actual performance of the products.  I spent over two years developing alongside my research team our first four products:  Be Gentle, Be Kind sulfate-free shampoo, Blossom & Bloom volumizing conditioner, Curl Charisma curl defining conditioner, and Don’t Despair, Repair! deep treatment mask.  Not many people know this, but we actually held product focus groups before we launched any of our products to gain real insight about our formulas from females with different hair texture types.  We used that feedback to develop our products further to ensure they are the best they possibly could be — while adhering to our natural standard and being fully free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, silicones, artificial dyes and synthetic fragrances.  Plain & simple — the products really do perform.  Our Don’t Despair, Repair! treatment, for example, has clinical results that show 81% less hair breakage after three uses which is phenomenal for a highly natural based product.  We are also one of the first (if not the first!) hair care product line to use Maltodextrin, a natural sugar derivative, that coats the hair without sticky or stiff after effects to increase the diameter of each stand of hair, thereby increasing the overall appearance of fuller and thicker hair.  We also use a very unique blend of mollis leaf extract, rice amino acids, and tomato fruit ferment in our Curl Charisma conditioner to reduce frizz and ensure consisted curl formation.  We were very thoughtful about the natural performance ingredients we chose to use in our products — ones you don’t typically see in other natural hair care lines.

Also, it was really important to me to create a product line that resonates with a diverse array of hair types and ethnicities.  Briogeo is not an ethnic line or a non-ethnic line — Briogeo is for everyone.  Whether your hair is coarse, curly, thin, wavy, color treated or chemically treated, you can find your perfect Briogeo product for your specific hair type.  I am also excited to announce that this year we will also be launching styling and finishing products, as well.  Stay tuned!

How did you get started, and what inspired you to create your own line? (I know that your grandmother used to make personal care products at home – that’s amazing, please tell us more about it!)

Briogeo was really inspired by a family tradition that began way before I was even born.  My mom was one of eight children in a 10-person family household living in rural West Virginia.  Her family didn’t have a lot of money or resources and my grandmother was always looking for ways to cut corners or do things more efficiently to provide for the family.  One of the most inspiring and brilliant skills she developed during that struggle was learning how to make our family’s personal care products, things like soaps, lotions, and of course hair care products, from scratch in the bathtub of their home.  The tradition of making natural products was later passed down to my generation and I learned how to make natural soaps and a few more luxurious beauty items like body scrubs and hair treatments.  At the time we were doing this, the awareness and demand for natural beauty products was pretty nonexistent or more of an “underground” thing.  I knew someday I wanted to take the passion and tradition for natural beauty products beyond our kitchen and about three years ago I put the wheels in motion for doing so by creating Briogeo.  

Why did you decide to go the natural route? What are the advantages of using natural hair products?

Going the natural route was provenly better for my hair.  I must admit — I did go through a rebellious stage in high school where I bleached, permed, and heat treated my hair everyday.  It was what pretty much every other girl was doing in high school at the time, and sometimes you just get sucked in trying to keep up with the trends.  My hair ended up in a tortuous state and ultimately my road to recovery was going back to my roots (no pun!) of natural hair formulas that didn’t contain any of the harsh synthetics to get my hair back on track.  In addition to keeping my hair healthy, I’ve been able to stay clear of things like sulfate, phthalates, and parabens which have been linked to health concerns like skin lipid damage, hormonal imbalances, and endocrine disruption, to name a few.

Coming up with a final product that you’re satisfied with takes a lot of work, time and effort – what challenges did you face in coming up with your magic formula?

The biggest challenge for us was figuring out which naturals were really performers — and which were not.  Making high performing hair care can be restricting when you’re aiming to uphold a natural standard.  Silicones, for example, while they’re great at providing slip, shine, and softness, can cause serious hair build up over time and there’s been question about the ingredient’s impact on the environment.  So we needed to find a way to use a natural alternative to produce those same great results, but without the side effects.  Doing so requires a lot of trial and error, research, and testing.  Also, many natural alternatives are more expensive than their synthetic counterparts which has to be factored in as well — especially when you aim to create affordable and achievable price points.

Are you a fan of using different products for your hair, or do you think a minimal routine is better?

I definitely think a minimal route is better.  Some hair care brands can be overwhelming — it’s like you have to use this specific shampoo that goes with this specific conditioner and this specific leave in and then this finishing product and then that styling serum or spray.  You really don’t need to choose from dozens of products to get the look or desired result you’re looking to achieve.  Briogeo is hair care simplified – a straightforward product selection that gets you the results you want.

You’re pretty much a hair expert: any tips to share with our readers for keeping hair in top form?

Don’t over wash your hair.  Depending on your hair thickness and length, you actually may be able to get a few days in between shampooing.  I recommend using dry shampoo to carry you between washes.  The natural oils produced by your scalp glands keep your scalp balanced and your hair follicles healthy.  Also, using a regular deep conditioning treatment or mask is a must.  No matter if you consider your hair healthy or if you regularly color your hair or use heat tools frequently, using a deep conditioning treatment every 1-2 weeks will help keep your hair hydrated, shiny, soft and will prevent the look of aging hair.

What hairstyles and cuts should we expect to see a lot of in 2014?

It’s hard to predict what happens next in beauty, but I think we’ll continue to see a lot of experimenting with cuts, most recently Katy Perry and Julianne Hough, for example.  Ombré lightening seems here to stay for a bit, but I’m hoping this spring we’ll see more experimenting with color.  One of my favorite ombré looks is a pastel ombré pixie that we pamped a few months ago – I hope we see more of it!

If we looked inside your makeup bag right now, what would we find?

I have a myriad of products in my beauty bag right now!  I am transitioning to a more natural makeup routine and I really love W3ll People’s Universal Colorstick 5 – the deep crimson color is absolutely gorgeous – plus it’s free from chemicals and artificials which is a huge plus.  I always keep a bottle of Olie Biologique Huile Moderne 004 in my bag – it’s such a universal skin moisturizer and especially comes in handy for my cuticles in this dry, cold NYC weather!  I also love those beautiful little vials of incredible perfume oils by Lurk — I am touting RSW005 at the moment and I absolutely love the unique scent.   I always like to keep a great read in my bag for those extra-long subway rides – right now I’m reading How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor’s Secrets to Getting Gorgeous without Breaking the Bank by Glamour beauty editor Andrea Pomerantz Lustig and I can’t put it down!  I’ve been learning some incredible budget friendly beauty tips and beauty insider secrets – definitely a must read!

Any plans for expansion, or products you envision adding to the Briogeo lineup?

Briogeo is just getting started!  Though we want to maintain a simple line that isn’t overdone or overwhelming to our customer, we do plan on rolling out some styling and finishing products this year which will help the Briogeo girl really complete her hair routine from start to finish.

Tell us a bit about your beauty routine.

My beauty routine has really evolved over time.  I used to be the gal who wore a full set of makeup every day – even if I was at home just hanging out.  I really don’t know what was with that, but it was like putting on blush and lip color was as regimen as washing your face in the morning.  As I’ve transitioned into my late 20’s I’ve definitely been adding more skin care products into my morning and nightly regimen.  I actually aim to go for as many makeup free days as possible during the week so that my skin can really breathe.  So instead of touting makeup, I’ll apply a nice face oil or serum during the day and let my skin just be.  I really only wear makeup for meetings and events these days (so that I don’t look so sleepy!) and when I do, I love experimenting with indie makeup brands, especially clean ones like W3ll People and ILIA Beauty.  Maintaining good skin care is a balance to makeup wear and I think I’m finally learning how to balance the two.