Hair Care

  • Why Minerals Should Be in Your Beauty Arsenal

    Minerals are a must in a healthy diet—they’re essential for keeping our bodies in balance and our cells functioning properly. But did you know that minerals in our skin and hair products provide important benefits, too?

    Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide protect you from the sun.
    Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the perfect natural sunscreens, because they physically block the sun’s damaging rays on the surface of skin. That means they don’t penetrate the skin like chemical sunscreens (i.e. avobenzone and oxybenzone) which can cause hormone disruption or allergies, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

    Try Andalou Naturals All-in-One Beauty Balm, SPF 30, a sheer BB facial cream with 20% zinc oxide that protects, moisturizes and strengthens skin. Coola Sport Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer is a full-body SPF 35 cream that’s water-resistant (and orange and tangerine extracts make it smell great! For hair, try Mineral Fusion Lasting Color Shampoo and Conditioner, which protects locks from sun damage and fading, and moisturizes with super-hydrating argan and mongongo seed oils.

    Mineral makeup is kind to sensitive skin.
    Without skin-irritating parabens, dyes, synthetic preservatives or talc, natural mineral foundations are often recommended by dermatologists for patients with sensitive skin or rosacea, according to WebMD. Because mineral foundations are oil-free, they’re good for acne-prone skin and less likely to cause breakouts. As an added bonus, these foundations contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that provides an extra level of sun protection.

    Try jane iredale Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder SPF 20, which protects skin from UVA and UVB rays, provides silky, luminous coverage and comes in 13 skin-matching shades. ZuZu Luxe Dual Powder Foundation is good for acne-prone skin with oil-absorbing and purifying kaolin. Mineral-based W3LL People Elitist Eye Shadow Powder is gentle, lasts all day and can be layered for sheer or more dramatic looks.

    Kaolin and bentonite detox and purify.
    Kaolin and bentonite mineral clays are created from naturally weathered rocks and volcanic ash, and are good for drawing out impurities and toxins without causing dryness or irritation. These natural clays also calm inflammation and neutralize bacteria, making them ideal for congested or acne-prone skin, according to research studies published by the National Institute of Health. Clay can be found in dry shampoos, too, reducing oiliness and freshening hair.

    Treat your skin to Michael Todd Kaolin Clay Detoxifying Facial Mask, a powerful blend of skin detoxifying kaolin, bentonite and red clay that deeply cleanses skin while soothing and healing breakouts. Get good coverage for oil skin with ZuZu Luxe Dual Powder Foundation featuring oil-absorbing minerals and purifying kaolin. And One Love Organics Healthy Locks Dry Shampoo with kaolin clay is the perfect take-along while traveling or camping.


    Dead Sea minerals restore moisture and repair skin.
    Salts found in the Dead Sea area are rich in minerals that bring overly dry, cracked skin back to suppleness reports the International Journal of Dermatology. Dead Sea salt features high concentrations of magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc, which strengthen your skin by drawing moisture and nutrients from deeper dermal layers to the surface, and locking moisture in. Dead Sea minerals also help skin cells renew faster, ideal for healing damaged skin.

    Try Ahava Dead Sea Osmoter Concentrate, a concentrated serum applied under moisturizer that leaves skin glowing and supple. Or draw a bath and add Pharmaca Bath Salts in Ylang Ylang & Ginger, which help nourish and repair dry, itchy and flaky skin with Dead Sea salts and soothing ylang ylang botanical oil.

  • Quick Treatments for Damaged Hair

    Brown hairHas your hair lost its bounce? Shine? Thickness? Tackle the problem with some serious hair repair treatments that work fast. Here’s what you need to know about the anatomy of your hair and what to do when things go awry.

    It’s all about follicles and cuticles
    Hair grows from hair follicles in our scalp, and the hair shaft is made up almost completely of a protein called keratin. Each shaft is comprised of three layers: the inner most medulla, which determines the thickness of the hair, the middle cortex, which gives hair its color, and the outer cuticle, which forms a protective barrier. By keeping our scalp healthy, our follicles can produce hair that’s stronger, and by nourishing the exposed cuticle (it’s semi-permeable so products can penetrate), we protect the hair shaft from damage.

    Help for: Processed or color-treated hair
    Chemicals like hydrogen peroxide used in permanent coloring and highlighting products, glycolic acid in straightening products and even formaldehyde by-products that are present in certain salon Brazilian straighteners, open the cuticle and allow color or a relaxing agent to be deposited into your hair’s cortex.

    These chemicals also make your hair strands weaker, drier and lackluster. That’s where a serious conditioning treatment comes in, like Earth Science Olive & Avocado Deep Conditioning Hair Mask. It penetrates and smooths hair cuticles with moisturizing coconut, avocado and olive oils, while silk proteins form a protective barrier on strands to improve elasticity and shine. Plus it works on both fine and thick hair. Another one to try: Alba Botanica Hawaiian Deep Conditioning Minute Mask, which restores hair with super nourishing argan oil and cocoa butter, and smooths with plant-sourced keratin.

    Help for: Sun and wind damaged hair
    Outdoor enthusiasts know that the elements can take a toll on our hair, leaving it dry and brittle. That’s because the sun’s UVA and UVB rays break down the keratin proteins and pigment in our hair, and wind can cause tangles and split ends. Treat your hair to Peter Lamas Youth Revival 5 Oil Hair Treatment Mask, a blend of five botanical oils that remoisturize hair, smooth cuticles, increase elasticity and protect the hair shaft from UV rays.

    Help for: Thin or slow-growing hair
    Thinning hair is often the result of heredity, hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause, or even certain hairstyles that pull hair too tight. A healthy scalp can keep your follicles functioning optimally and help encourage hair growth. Peter Lamas Chinese Herbs Regenerating Scalp Serum massaged in to the scalp twice daily invigorates hair follicles and detoxifies the scalp with herbal swertia extract and apple stem cells.

    You can work on thinning hair from the inside out, too: Try incorporating supplements rich in the B vitamin biotin—like Pharmaca Biotin Capsules—to strengthen hair and help it grow faster.

    Help for: Flaky, itchy scalp
    Itchy scalp and dandruff can be caused by several factors; the most common are dry skin, seborrheic dermatitis or a yeast-like fungus. But embarrassing flakes and itchiness can be treated with products that restore your scalp to health. John Masters Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner blends organic arnica and white tea to detoxify your scalp, while lavender oil hydrates and calms skin to relieve symptoms of eczema or dermatitis. Badger Organic Jojoba Hair Oil for Dry Scalp is another effective treatment, quelling itchiness and dandruff with nourishing plant oils, scalp-stimulating rosemary and peppermint essential oils, and antibacterial and anti-fungal tea tree oil.

  • 5 Steps to Beautiful Hair

    BathTowelWe’ve all heard the hair care mantra: lather, rinse, repeat. But the right techniques—and products—can make the difference between having a good hair day and hiding your hair in a scrunchie and baseball cap.

    Here are 5 easy steps to get the best results for your hair (and some Pharmaca favorites to try)

    1. Cleanse

    Beautiful hair starts with knowing how often your hair and scalp need cleansing.

    Fine, limp hair tends to absorb oils from your scalp more noticeably and may need daily shampooing. Look for balancing shampoos that gently cleanse with clarifying ingredients like citrus, mint or tea. (John Masters Spearmint and Meadowsweet Scalp Stimulating Shampoo)

    Dry or color-treated hair needs shampooing only every two or three days to keep it from being stripped of natural oils or color processes. Look for moisturizing shampoos with nurturing botanical oils like avocado or argan. (Andalou Naturals Moisture Rich Shampoo)

    Naturally curly hair may be shampooed just a few times a week with products that coat hair strands to avoid breakage, minimize frizz and enhance shine. Shampoos with natural softeners like coconut oil or smoothing keratin proteins work best. (Giovanni 2chic Ultra-Sleek Shampoo)

    And to prolong a blowout or touch up your hair after the gym, dry shampoo a terrific on-the-go option. (Klorane Dry Shampoo or Acure Dry Shampoo)

    2. Condition

    Conditioners restore hair and infuse it with targeted ingredients that make it soft and manageable. But don’t overdo it; apply the conditioner to the bottom half of your hair first, then comb it through.

    Fine hair benefits from added volume, so look for products with body-building plant proteins like barley or soy. (Mineral Fusion Volumizing Conditioner)

    Dry or color-treated hair needs protection from the sun’s color-fading UV rays and natural botanicals like avocado oil to moisturize. (ShiKai Color Reflect Intensive Repair Conditioner)

    Curly hair looks best with shiny, defined curls so a leave-in conditioner that tames frizzy strands is the right choice. (John Masters Lavender and Avocado Intensive Conditioner)

    3. Towel Dry

    Wet hair is fragile and can be easily damaged with excessive rubbing or twisting. Friction from cotton towels can cause split ends, breakage and even thinning. And because wet hair takes longer to dry, it’s exposed to more damaging heat from your blow dryer.

    To combat this, look for towels created especially for drying hair—they can wick excess water away without friction or tugging, and ultimately, dry hair much more quickly. The Aquis Essential Hair Towel or Turban, made with ultrafine microfibers, cuts drying time in half and can prevent hair damage. Plus, they’re super light-weight and ideal for travel or camping.

    4. Treat

    Occasionally, your hair may need extra help with targeted treatments. Need moisture? Get deep hydration with rich cocoa butter. Try Alba Botanica Hawaiian Deep Conditioning Minute Mask or John Masters Argan Oil.

    Thinning Hair? Chinese herbs and fruit stem cells work directly on hair follicles to encourage growth in Peter Lamas Chinese Herbs Regenerating Scalp Serum.

    Itchy scalp? Dr. Hauschka Strengthening Hair Treatment calms irritation with neem and chamomile.

    5. Style

    Finishing touches will give your style staying power. For extreme control, or in high humidity, rub a small amount of Max Alchemy MGA Scalp Rescue Sculpting Gel in your hands and work throughout your hair.

    And for more pliable hold and texture, MOP Orange Peel Molding Cream is an ideal choice for shaping your hair while adding a bit of shine.

    <p class=”italic”>Questions about hair care? Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner to find out how to keep your tresses healthy, manageable and beautiful. </p>

  • Fighting Frizz: The Best Moisturizing Shampoos and Conditioners

    Brown hairHair a little out of control? Good thing there are a variety of natural ways to tame frizz and create a sleek look! Here are a few of our favorite products, packed with nature's best ingredients for fighting flyaways.

    Tress Taming Shampoos

    Unmanageable hair could be misidentified as a trendy hairstyle, but if that’s not the look you’re going for, then take action with a serious moisturizing plan. Show your hair who's in charge with a daily dose of Acure’s Triple Moisture Repairing Moroccan Argan Stem Cell Shampoo, which rescues distressed hair quickly with a patented triple moisture system. This shampoo uses plant stem cell technology to boost hair health right at the follicle and is vegan friendly and cruelty free.

    Another one to try: Intelligent Nutrients' PureLuxe Shampoo. Designed to fight against dry, damaged and color treated hair, this rich and creamy shampoo helps repair, smooth and nurse dry hair back to health.

    Calming Conditioners

    To seal in moisturize for all-day frizz relief, follow your shampoo regimen with a high-quality conditioner. MOP's C-System Hydrating Conditioner is specially designed for coarse, hard to manage hair. Its antioxidant-rich formula adds hydration to wily tresses, leaving it with a healthy sheen and easy to style.

    Rated best conditioner by Elle Magazine, Max Green Alchemy's Scalp Rescue Conditioner is perfect to use in the dry winter months. This 100 percent plant-based conditioner is specifically designed to improve dry, flaky, dehydrated scalps naturally, and is safe for dandruff sufferers and color-treated hair. Packed with macadamia seed oil, lavender and vitamin C ester, it will leave your hair silky smooth!

    Frizz-Fighting Finishing Touches

    In addition to selecting the best moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to fight frizz, you may want to consider minimizing the use of heat styling, which promotes hair damage. Those living in humid climates or those who want a bit of extra protection throughout the day might consider taking an extra step and use conditioning oil such as Dr. Hauschka's Neem Hair Oil, designed to soothe the scalp while adding shine, strength and manageability to the hair.

    With the right tools, you CAN come out victorious in the battle against frizz!

  • Thick, Bouncy, Fresh and Shiny: Hair Care 101

    Hair not living up to its full potential? Pharmaca’s got solutions—including hair care treatments chock full of natural botanicals, oils and herbs that deliver targeted solutions. Lisa Sawabini, esthetician and beauty product expert in Portland, walks us through some of the finest fixes.

    Thinning hair
    Thin hair can become noticeably fuller, and new hair growth encouraged, with products that get to the root of the problem. Andalou Naturals’ Age Defying Scalp Intensive’s active ingredients include fruit stem cells from apples, grapes and argan seeds. “These plant stem cells rev up your own dormant root cells,” says Lisa. Add in a complex of eight berries jam packed with antioxidants to support cell renewal and boost collagen, and you’ve got a healthy scalp and thicker, fuller hair.

    Peter Lamas’ Chinese Regenerating Scalp Serum relies on centuries-old wisdom and modern science to help thinning hair (and customers love it!). The serum uses the plant extract swertia japonica to block the formation of Dihydrotestosterone, a common cause of hair loss, and apple stem cells to promote new hair growth.

    Frizzy hair
    A product that can tame frizzies, supports a women’s cooperative and protects the environment? Sign us up. John Masters’ 100% Argan Oil uses argan fruit that’s harvested in a protected forest in Morocco, which is then processed by a local women's co-op—generating income for health care and education. Add a few drops of the oil to damp hair to soften, repair split ends and add shine. Lisa also recommends argan oil for the skin, either applied directly or blended with other facial products to add extra moisture, reduce fine lines and improve elasticity.

    Damaged hair
    Sometimes a serious hair care intervention is needed. Giovanni’s 2chic Ultra-Moist Deep Deep Moisture Mask helps repair extreme damage, especially in dry or over-processed hair. Tapping into some of nature’s best moisturizers, this mask blends shea butter, avocado, sunflower and olive oils to revitalize coarse, rough hair.

    Earth Science’s Deep Conditioning Hair Masque penetrates and coats the shaft with natural silk proteins and coconut oil, leaving hair soft and smooth. “It’s a customer favorite,” says Lisa. “It’s especially good for parched hair after a sun- and swim-filled vacation. Leave it on for 15 minutes in the shower, or sleep with it on for extra conditioning.”

    Oily hair
    A daily shampoo used to be the only answer for those with oily hair—until dry shampoos hit the market. They remove oil at the roots in minutes, revive flat hair and treat your scalp. Try best-selling Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, which relies on gentle oat milk, corn and rice starches (and no sulfates or parabens) to eliminate surface oils and dirt while adding volume and texture to hair.

    Acure Dry Shampoo Argan Stem Cell & CoQ10 takes the dry shampoo concept to a new level by adding ingredients that treat the hair while they clean. Argan stem cells and CoQ10 encourage cell growth in the hair cuticle, boost keratin production and add moisture. Slippery elm bark flour soothes the scalp and French white clay freshens.

    Have another hair question? Ask a Pharmaca esthetician for guidance.

  • Gluten-Free Skin and Body Care

    No wheat, barley or rye. Sometimes no oats. For those living with Celiac disease or wheat allergies, reading food labels in search of these ingredients is a way of life.

    Although a gluten-free diet helps manage both conditions, the causes of the two are different. Wheat allergies are one of the most-common food allergies—they generate an antibody in reaction to the proteins found in wheat, producing a variety of symptoms, from hives and rashes to abdominal pain or breathing trouble. For those with Celiac disease, on the other hand, the reaction comes from one particular protein in wheat, called gluten, which can result in an abnormal and often severe immune system reaction in the small intestines.

    But what about gluten in products besides food? Gluten is often added to skin care products in ingredients that thicken or provide a creamy texture. Wheat protein in shampoos, for example, strengthens and adds fullness to the hair. Although some researchers say the proteins in gluten are too large to be absorbed through the skin, many people with Celiac disease and gluten or wheat allergies choose to limit their exposure.

    “There definitely needs to be more clinical research on topical gluten reactions,” says Julie McGinnis, a dietician at our south Boulder location (who happens to be an expert in gluten-free living). She says that in her practice, she’s seen many individuals who experience skin problems like acne, rashes or inflammation when they use products that contain gluten or other wheat proteins. “It may be a reaction from ingested glutens, topical glutens or both. Switching to gluten-free skin and body products can often help,” she says. Many people with eczema and less severe wheat sensitivities say their skin reacts better to gluten-free body, hair and skin care products, too.

    But glutens or wheat proteins may be tricky to identify. A good place to start is looking for any ingredient with wheat, barley, malt, rye or oat included in the name. Some of the most common ingredients containing gluten can be found as triticum vulgare (wheat), hordeum vulgare (barley), secale cereale (rye), avena (oat), phytosphingosine (made from yeast), tocopherol and vitamin E (sometimes derived from wheat).

    Because of the number of ingredients that may be suspect, sometimes it’s simplest to just look for products that are already labeled “gluten-free.” Fortunately Pharmaca offers a wide variety of skin care products that come with the gluten-free label. Here’s a rundown of some gluten-free favorites from Staci Minovitz, esthetician at our Los Angeles store.

    Acure’s Sensitive Facial Cleanser Argan Oil + Probiotic. This creamy cleanser is rich in calming botanical extracts like chamomile and rosehips, and its omega fatty acids hydrate and protect the skin’s natural balance.

    Alaffia EveryDay Shea Butter Body Lotion is a luxurious body moisturizer that blends hand-crafted shea butter with soothing lemongrass and antioxidants red palm oil and shea leaf.

    Pre de Provence Soaps and Cleansing Bars are gluten-free, and the milk, shea butter and argan varieties are particularly kind to sensitive skin.

    Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Shampoos and Conditioners are formulated without chemical preservatives, petrochemicals or sulfates. Good for all hair types, these are nourishing, lightweight and full of antioxidants and organic essential oils like tamanu seed, red raspberry, pumpkin seed and black cumin to keep your scalp healthy.

    Finally, a gluten-free no-brainer: If you’ve got Celiac or a wheat allergy, it’s especially important to look for gluten-free lip balms, since they’re so easily ingested. Recommended by both Staci and Julie, ZuZu Luxe Lip Glosses are vegan and blend jojoba seed oil, sea fennel extract and sunscreen to moisturize and protect. Suki Lip Repair Butter and Juice Beauty’s Lip Glosses also hydrate and treat lips with natural oils and (safe) soy-based vitamin E.

    Check with a Pharmaca esthetician for more selections and favorites, or check out our entire selection of gluten-free facial care, glute-free body care, gluten-free hair care and gluten-free oral care.

  • Hair Care: What's Hot Now

    We're celebrating the new year by stocking our shelves with some exciting new hair care lines. We think you'll love them-from the latest in dry shampoo to conditioners infused with argan oil. And, of course, they're all natural, so you and your hair can rest easy.

    Acure Organics Hair Care
    Acure is a family-owned and operated company that's focused on Fair Trade, natural and organic personal care products. Their clinically driven, results-oriented line of hair care offers visible results without animal testing, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, harmful preservatives or artificial colors.

    Try out Acure's Pure Mint + Echinacea Stem Cell Shampoo and Conditioner, ideal for creating volume and thickness. They not only smell minty and delicious, they're packed with echinacea stem cells that promote cellular regeneration at the root level. We also love that they include quinoa protein to support cell structure and babassu oil, which offers lightweight moisture to the hair and scalp.

    Klorane Hair Care

    Klorane, a French company that has long been making plant-based hair care for all different hair types, has now pioneered and perfected the dry shampoo. Their Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk is ideal for any time your hair needs a little freshening, whether it's after the gym, before a night out or even just to extend a salon do for a few days.

    The key to dry shampoo is its ability to absorb oil and dirt from the hair's roots. Klorane does this with a gentle combination of oat milk (to soothe and naturally balance the scalp and hair) as well as corn and rice starches that offer powerful cleansing action. After applying to hair roots and allowing to dry for 2 minutes, simply brush thoroughly until the powder is removed. No water needed!

    Look for those same great ingredients in Klorane's conventional Shampoo and Conditioner with Oat Milk. All products are also free of sulfates, parabens, sodium chloride and silicone.

    Andalou Naturals
    They've got a full line of face and body care, too, but we think Andalou Naturals has some of the most effective hair care around. Not only do they offer shampoo and conditioner, their hair sprays, styling gels and creams are excellent at holding that do in place.

    You'll also find some amazingly innovative ingredients in Andalou's hair care. We love their Moisture Rich Sweet Orange & Argan Shampoo and Conditioner, which combines deeply hydrating argan and sweet orange oils to revitalize hair follicles for renewed luster and shine. Add in some fruit stem cell cultures that help protect the skin on your scalp's DNA from environmental stress and aging, as well as organic aloe vera to ensure delivery of all these fantastic actives, and you've got one potent hair regimen.

    We're always on the cutting edge of the latest in natural healthy and beauty. Stop by a Pharmaca store to see what's new!

  • Hair Care Ingredients That Work

    Whether you want a sleek look or a fuller 'do, this month we've got great deals on all-natural hair care. We got a little advice from Darcie Woods, esthetician and Connie Cortez, cosmetologist, at our Monterey store, on great products that can help every type of hair.

    Goal: Smoothness

    Juice Organics PomSmooth Shampoo & Conditioner
    Key ingredients: "The aloe juice, shea butter, olive oil and jojoba help make your hair silky," sats Connie. "Aloe is also going to help with shine, and help bring down any flyaways." It especially helps frizzy or color-treated hair, she says, since the ingredients help soften and condition the ends.

    Goal: Hydration

    MOP C-System Hydrating Shampoo & Conditioner
    Key ingredients: "All those lovely fruit and flower oils-including geranium, lemon peel, orange and ginger root oils-help coat the hair shaft to smooth and hydrate," says Darcie.

    Goal: Volume
    Yes To Tomatoes Volumizing Shampoo & Conditioner
    Key ingredients: The nectarine extract helps fuse fruit pectin polymers to lank hair to create volume. "And the Dead Sea water, which is naturally full of salt, probably helps give that full beachy feel to your hair," adds Darcie. The antioxidant lycopene found in tomatoes also helps clear excess oil from your hair and scalp, which can weigh hair down.

    Goal: Clarify (especially after the pool!)

    Acure Organics Lemongrass & Argan Stem Cell Shampoo & Conditioner
    Key ingredients: Fruit oils from pomegranate, coconut, açai and blackberry help strip the impurities from your hair, which is great if you have too much oil or like to swim in chlorinated pools. "This one has aloe, CoQ10, avocado and olive oil, which clarify without drying your hair," says Connie. "So many awesome ingredients, and the smell is amazing!"

    Goal: Tame curls or frizz

    Giovanni Organics Smooth as Silk Shampoo & Conditioner
    Key ingredients: "There's a lot of vegetable and soy protein in there," says Connie. "The soy protein especially, adds moisture and penetrates into damaged hair to help repair it." Pair that with a variety of oils, like rosemary, orange and mango, and you've got a great way to nourish frizzy locks. But, Connie adds, the Smooth as Silk products won't add any volume, so it's not a good choice for those with fine or thin hair.

    Bring your hair questions to a Pharmaca esthetician. 

  • Product Spotlight: Dr. Hauschka

    If you've never tried this luxurious German line of skin care, you should know that it's one of Pharmaca's top-sellers. Hauschka offers the best in botanical ingredients in everything from shampoos to hand creams to cosmetics.

    The majority of ingredients in Dr. Hauschka's products are grown either biodynamically or organically, and all with a great deal of thought and consideration for the earth's natural growing processes. Their ingredient philosophy is a perfect fit on Pharmaca's beauty shelves.

    Dr. Hauschka skin care has been available in the US since 1972, and its popularity has grown as people have discovered the simple efficacy of their products. People love the Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream, especially great when followed by another customer favorite, the Rose Day Cream. Hauschka even offers homeopathic remedies to create a complete wellness regimen for your skin and body.

    Because it's one of our best-sellers, Pharmaca offers a lot of great sales on the whole Dr. Hauschka line. This month? The entire line is 20% off. Check back for different Gift with Purchase offers, too—they're the perfect way to discover Hauschka!

    Already love Hauschka? Write a review of your favorite product and tell us why!

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