Rana Good is the founder of Naïra NYC. A writer for publications such as Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Coveteur, Mens Journal and others, she created her own platform celebrating women of color.
Life during COVID-19 has taught a lot of people to take matters in their own hands when it comes to beauty and hairstyling. Faced with months of not going to their hair colorist, at-home hair coloring has become particularly popular. For people looking for an upgrade to box color, eSalon provides custom home hair color made by a personal colorist that is sent to your home.
Angeline Louis is the cosmetic chemist at eSalon and has a decade of experience in scientific formulation and color mixing technology. We interviewed her about her day to day at eSalon and what women of color need to know about hair coloring before they switch up their hairdo.
How did you get your start as a chemist?
Angeline Louis: My journey as a chemist began with a third-party manufacturing company in Pennsylvania as a research and development technician. I was responsible for developing UV curable gel polish for nails. In addition to formula development, I was also responsible for developing new colors and color matching existing colors. I discovered my passion for cosmetic formulation in that role and thankfully I found mentorship with my boss at the time. She encouraged me to pursue a masters in cosmetic science, which opened many doors for me in the industry.
What does a day in your life look like?
A typical day for me consists of researching new raw materials and creating new formulas based on technical data of the new raw material. I find that about 25 percent of my day consists of communicating new discoveries or solutions from my research. I then make the formula and perform specific tests to confirm whether the new formula is viable. Being an effective communicator is key in my current role. I am in constant communication with raw material suppliers in addition to our cross-functional teams on various projects. I troubleshoot and provide technical assistance on formulations and eSalon projects.
How does eSalon approach custom hair color and what are the steps from start to finish?
eSalon’s custom hair color is never premixed or premade and is made-to-order only after we receive a client’s order. How does this happen? First, clients complete an online questionnaire where they answer questions about their current hair color, previous hair color experience, length of hair, gray percentage, hair texture, and even eye color and skin tone. Our colorists take all of these responses into consideration when formulating their custom color. Once the custom formula is sent from the colorist to our dispensing machine we affectionately call “Polly” (from polychrome, meaning many colors), an empty bottle is labeled with the client’s name, the date the custom color was created and their unique formula ID. Our machine scans the unique formula ID and dispenses the custom color, measuring by weight, rather than volume, for an even more precise formula. After this, the bottle then moves down the conveyor line to be capped and then to our production team to be packed with all the essentials needed to color at home, including personalized instructions specific to each client. After the custom color is packed, it’s then shipped directly to the client’s door, ready to use at their convenience.
What are some considerations to take when deciding to color your hair?
Similar to what our colorists consider, and included on our online questionnaire — you want to look at your gray percentage, hair texture, what hair color you’ve used in the past, hair length, your eye color and skin color. Hair colors are warm and cool, similar to skin tones. So, you’ll want to pick a color that complements your skin tone, rather than clashes. And, knowing your growth cycle is important when deciding about how often you’ll need to apply a new color to your roots. And, as always, if you have access to a licensed colorist (like eSalon clients) you should consult with them for expert guidance.
Do you have any tips for women of color who want to color their hair?
Women of color who want to color their hair should not apply any harsh chemicals such as hair relaxers on their hair right after coloring. Any chemical treatments applied on the hair should happen at least two weeks before coloring and at least one wash before coloring. Another great tip is to condition your hair and keep it moisturized — one of the biggest reasons for damage post-coloring is due to a lack of moisture.
How does hair texture affect color?
Coily and kinky hair textures are more fragile. This is true whether your hair is in a natural, nonchemical processed state or a chemically straightened state. Kinky and coily hair textures are oval in shape and grow in an unpredictable curl pattern from the scalp. Because of this kinky/coily hair tends to flatten and decrease in thickness around the various bends and twists of the hair strand. These areas are the weaker portion of the hair strand. Depending on the type of hair coloring you desire (permanent, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, and temporary) your hair may be more susceptible to damage. Proper hair color application and proper hair maintenance post coloring is key in reducing damage.
How has affected COVID-19 eSalon?
During COVID-19, consumers have been carving out time for self-care and exploring new products and treatments in order to keep up their beauty routine while at home. As a result, eSalon has seen a significant uptick in demand since March of this year. We’ve been able to quickly and safely optimize our production and overall communication to avoid service interruptions, with many team members who can, following the new work-from-home model. eSalon’s unique offering, complete with safe direct-to-door delivery and remote hair coloring tutorials has allowed loyal and new clients alike to find comfort in their favorite beauty rituals while maintaining salon-quality results. In addition to contributing financially to charitable organizations in the States and our international markets to help frontline combat COVID-19, we’ve also been able to support beauty professionals during this unprecedented time through eSalon’s Color Muse Pro program, which helps out-of-work stylists supplement their income while helping their clients get the custom color they’re used to.
What are you looking forward to working on this year?
I am looking forward to an exciting launch we plan to have in Q4 of this year. We are still moving full speed ahead even during this pandemic. The team has found creative ways to ensure this project stays on track. I am very excited to see all of our hard work and efforts pay off later this year.