We met Tania Whittier at Beverly Hills’ Méche Salon, surrounded on all sides by women giving inarguably good L.A. hair.
When we heard through the grapevine that Tania was the latest L.A. stylist to embrace non-toxic treatments (there are surprisingly few!), we knew we needed to meet her ourselves — and to try the goods.
Whittier’s top clients include Kristen Bell (that epic blonde) and Maya Rudolph (those insanely smooth bobs). We asked Tania to talk to us about why she decided to embrace more non-toxic products in her process. Like us, she believes that it will be consumers who drive the trend, just as they’ve done in every other area of clean beauty.
If you’re ready to consider a cleaner approach to your salon visits, listen up…
The Chalkboard: Let’s start right in with the most ‘dangerous’ stuff. What’s wrong with a Brazilian blowout for those who are not in the know?
Tania Whittier: The classic Brazilian Blowout is a treatment that uses formaldehyde in its formula — a toxic gas. When mixed with keratin, formaldehyde creates an adhesive that allows the keratin to sit on the cuticle layer of the hair. You apply the product, blow-dry the treatment into the hair, then flatiron. It’s the flat-ironing at high heat that creates a toxic gas that can be breathed in. It can also give you a headache and watery eyes. You may be able to suck it up for a monthly treatment, but what about the effect it’s having on a stylist giving those blowouts everyday?
TCM: Yikes! Thankfully, there are natural alternatives for hair texture treatments. Let’s talk about it! Can you explain the “cleaner” texture treatments you’ve become so popular for?
Tania Whittier: Nontoxic is the next generation in hair care. This means no more ammonia, PPD, resorcinol of formaldhyde.
PPD – Paraphenylenediamine is know as a possible carcinogen that has allergic reactions. Can create reddening and swelling of face along with dermatitis.
Resorcinol- used in coloring and may be toxic to environment as well as our immune system.
Ammonia- Swells the hair cuticle to allow color absorption, allergic reactions include itchy scalp and watery eyes.
Formaldehyde- known to be a human carcinogen resulting in watery eyes,headaches, burning sensation in throat, difficultly breathing and can aggravate asthma symptoms.
Using a non-toxic smoothing treatment has become a no-brainer for me. Of course it’s safer, but it also allows me to create different looks. When you use a non-toxic treatment you have to process it, just like haircolor. That means the cuticle layer of the hair is opened, keratin and amino acids are entering the cortex layer of the hair, and I have more flexibility about the final texture. Once the treatment is done processing you rinse everything out of the hair before blowdrying and flat ironing, unlike a Brazilian.
TCM: What would you like more stylists to realize about going “clean”?
Tania Whittier: I would love stylists to realize that clean haircolor and non-toxic smoothing treatments are worth the investment! Clean color works like traditional color and non-toxic treatments work better. More importantly, it’s safer for us. More and more clients are requesting clean treatments and I think that trend is only going to grow. If you work in a competitive market, consider going clean an investment in your future.
TCM: What are some of the brands you’ve come to love most for treatments?
Tania Whittier: There are so many non-toxic smoothing treatments out there now! They all do different things for different types of hair. Some of my favorites are Puraluxe, Leaf and Flower, Cezanne and Pure Brazilian Clear.
My goal with my clients is to customize a treatment for them based on their hair goals. Some clients just want to reduce frizz, but keep the curls, others want truly straight hair. Clients also like to use treatments to make the curl textures on their hair more uniform.
TCM: Beyond just texture, you create some pretty great blonde in Hollywood too. If readers aren’t convinced to go clean yet, they can just check out your client, Kristen Bell. Has the non-toxic color you use gotten better over time yet?
Tania Whittier: Clean haircolor has gotten so much better and, yes, you can get some beautiful tones with clean haircolor now. My favorite clean line is O&M, based in Australia.
TCM: What would you say to those who are hesitant to try clean or natural color or treatments?
Tania Whittier: Maya recently said in an interview with Byrdie that the one hair thing she did during quarantine was her non-toxic smoothing treatment. She did notice the difference when she made the switch to non-toxic and loved it. I switched Kristen over to clean haircolor and she didn’t see a difference.
I tell clients that clean color and non-toxic treatments have come a long way and you now can create the same looks with better products. The products need to continue improving, but that’s why it’s so important to support the movement toward clean beauty — so we can continue to make ‘better for you’ even better!