Friday, July 29, 2011

Herbal Spunk and Dr. Cindy Jones

I have a confession to make: I have never been afraid of my shampoo. Even the recent warnings that it's "making me fat" haven't moved me. But when I read that Colorado Aromatics was offering a new herbal shampoo with natural, biodegradable ingredients, I was intrigued enough to order some. The only "fear" I harbored was whether it would work as well as my old brand. I needn't have worried.

Herbal Spunk Conditioning Shampoo contains natural surfactants, glycerin, vitamin B, and a blend of botanical extracts including sage, catnip, green tea, rosemary, and peppermint. Sounds great, right? When I started using it two months ago, I had questions which were quickly answered: Yes, this shampoo has an excellent lather, even when using a small amount. No, it does not dry out my hair; in fact, I haven't used a separate conditioner for two months. And no, the botanicals don't give the shampoo—or my hair—a medicinal smell. In fact, did I mention it has peppermint in it? Yep, it smells like peppermint, one of my all-time favorites for personal care. In short, I'm just delighted with it and plan to order more. (For the record, I purchased this product and this is my own opinion.)

While Herbal Spunk measures up to other shampoos in all the usual ways, it's the unique ingredients that interested me from the beginning. I found that the longer I used it, the more questions I had about it: Why catnip? What other choices went into formulation? And ultimately, a question many people ask: Who's created this great product? I needed to contact the formulator directly for these details.

Cindy Jones, Ph.D. is the scientist-researcher-herbalist-formulator behind Colorado Aromatics. With degrees in microbiology, chemistry, and toxicology as well as a Ph.D. in biochemistry/molecular biology, she has experience as a cancer researcher, a college professor, and a medical writer. Dr. Jones has shared her knowledge as the author of several books and a number of other publications. She is also an expert contributor at an online resource for science-based cosmetic information, Personal Care Truth. I am honored that Dr. Jones has agreed to answer some of my questions so I can share more information about Colorado Aromatics and her great products.

How did you get started farming the botanicals you use? Have you always been interested in gardening/farming?

Appreciating nature as well as gardening was a part of my upbringing. As a child of the 70’s, getting ‘close to the land’ was always a dream of mine. But my interest in natural sciences led me to study biology and chemistry in college (some don’t realize chemistry is one of the natural sciences) and my curious nature let me to the field of research.

The first house we bought had a small herb garden so I was driven to learn all I could about those herbs and I started dabbling with them. As a scientist I gravitated toward understanding the scientific and medical evidence for the use of herbs. I wrote about herbs, made extracts from them and various products while I started growing more herbs. I found the process of making skin care products very creative and satisfying.

My husband and I finally found ourselves in a place where we could conceivably purchase land and so we did that in 2007. This enabled me to grow my business and grow more herbs for my business. We have horses, goats, and chickens outside as well as cats and a dog inside. We grow a variety of herbs as well as fruit.


What motivated you to start Colorado Aromatics?


I found that my knowledge in both chemistry and herbalism was perfect for making high quality skin care and personal care products and as I gained experience and knowledge I started offering my consulting services to other small companies.

Besides making my own products I also offer microbiology testing and product development consulting (through Sagescript Institute, Ltd.). When I started to grow my own brand with our move (in 2007) I wanted some separation of my products from my consulting so I started Colorado Aromatics. This is the name we decided to use at the farmers markets too. We grow herbs on our farm for these products and also make these extracts available for others.


How did you choose the particular extracts you've included in Herbal Spunk? Also, are the properties of "extracts" the same as those plants' essential oils?


Whenever I formulate a new product the first thing I do is research what herbs would be beneficial in the formula. I examine the scientific literature and both modern and traditional herbal writings to choose plants that I already grow or that would grow well in my area. The herbs in this shampoo (Artemisia, salvia, mint, catnip, rosemary, and green tea) were chosen to soften and strengthen the hair, improve hair growth, decrease split ends as well as to moisten and protect the scalp and improve hair follicle health.

Many people think that any type of extract from an herb is the same. Its important when using an herb to know something about the chemistry of the activity you are after. Sometimes you will want a water extract (if you are looking for flavonoids), sometimes an oil extract (if you are looking for oil soluble vitamins) and sometimes you might want an essential oil or a hydrolat if the properties you want are volatile. You don’t get the same properties in all types of herbal preparations.


Where can people find your products?

Find us online at the Sagescript Institute website and blog. We also have a Facebook page and twitter as Sagescript.

We sell at our local farmers markets; Longmont and Boulder, Colorado and online at Colorado Aromatics. I love being part of the farmers market because there is a real sense of community there. It's great to have that interaction with my customers every week and I also like educating people about farms and farm products and letting them know that farms are more than just food. Fiber, medicinal products, cosmetics, etc. can all come from farms and be more sustainable products when they do.
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Thank you, Dr. Jones! I really enjoyed getting to know more about your work, and I appreciate your willingness to share what has gone into creating your business as well as your products. (And thank you, too, for the photos! Please note: photos ©Sagescript Institute, Ltd. and Colorado Aromatics.)

If you're in Longmont or Boulder, check out your farmers markets for Colorado Aromatics! I didn't even mention the fantastic soaps I also ordered (can you tell I was a little smitten with the shampoo? I blame the peppermint), and there are lotions, herbal baths, massage oils, insect repellents...many other products to choose from.

What do you think? What's your favorite Colorado Aromatics product?

3 comments:

  1. Love this! I met Cindy Jones on a yahoo group when I first started making soaps. She is a wealth of knowledge, and I always send my new products to her for testing.

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  2. Both of you are too nice! thanks lots Emily. Amy - we have known each other quite a few years now! I love the support in this business.

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  3. I love how we can all learn from each other. What a great network of business people we belong to! Thank you both for all that you share!

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