I started Fancy Free Hair & Skin with one product, whipped shea butter that could be used on both hair and skin, because I couldn't find products heavy enough to keep my thick, kinky hair moisturized. It was a common problem with newly naturals back then. Dry hair. Brittle hair. After a few years, I realized that it started with "wash day". So many of us were using products that dried out hair out and then we were trying to put the moisture back in. That seemed kind of dumb, so I formulated the Clay Wash for Hair & Skin. I specifically created that product for thick, kinky hair that dries out as wash day approaches. The Clay Wash works wonders for people like me who don't use a lot of styling products in their hair but I quickly realized that we all needed a little lather from time to time.
The same goes for conditioners. There are a lot of reasons to need a little extra moisture, vitamins and protein on your hair. To help detangle after taking your hair down from a protective style. To prevent breakage from damaged hair as you await your appointment for a good trim. To prepare your hair for a protective style. I had always really liked the Sacha Inci oil from when I used a sacha inci oil Shea Moisture product back in 2016 when I colored my hair. Putting together a deep conditioner formula really wasn't as challenging as it was to formulate the shampoo. But back to lathering shampoo...
Our scalps need to be cleansed of all the gunk so that the hair follicle can move freely. We need to remove product build up from our hair strands because too much product can cause breakage. But a good lathering shampoo is easier said than done. There is sooooo much to consider. Sooooooo much to figure out. Then once I figured it out, I had to execute the considerations. And there's the conflict.
I started with a shampoo bar but it smelled bad and dried my hair out. Then I tried to make liquid soap out of oils (saponification) and that was a disaster. Turns out that the saponification process requires lye, a basic pH, but hair and skin likes an acidic pH. However, if you add an acid to the saponified oils, you will lose the lather. No easy feat. LOL! So, I took a few breaks. I even considered cheating by ordering shampoo from another private label manufacturer but the ones I tried just didn't live up to my standards.
Then, in January 2020, I got a product development client who wanted a beard shampoo and he was very specific with the ingredients he wanted in it. While the standards for beard shampoo is usually a little different than that of a naturalista approaching wash day, I had renewed hope that I could create an amazing lathering shampoo. So, I picked it back up and tried again. Because that's the first lesson I learned from Aaliyah. LOL!
After about 20 tries I was ready to send it out to my Fancy Friends for feedback. Mainly to decide on the scent because I knew that the product was bomb. Surprisingly, selecting the fragrance of a new product is always difficult for me. Probably more difficult than developing the actual product. I'm just not really into fragrances. I like what I like but I know that this is not about me so I have to consider what's popular. Sometimes I will choose a fragrance and it smells amazing in the bottle but doesn't do well with the formula. Like, the smell of all the ingredients react with the fragrance or essential oil and the product ends up stinking.
I love that my Fancy Friends keep it 100% with me. The feedback was very helpful because I didn't know that the shampoo was super thick. Too thick to easily pour from the bottle. Mainly because I package it while it's warm and it pours just fine then. I also didn't realize that the conditioner was leaving a waxy residue on the hair. Back to the lab with about 5 more variations and then, BOOM, she got it. Had a few manufacturing practice runs because shampoo has 3 phases and I've never had to have 3 pots going at once to make a product. By July 2021, I was ready. Labels were in. Packaging had been decided. I snuck and put it on the website but decided I needed a huge launch campaign. Photoshoot with models. The whole shabang. Even decided on a date that would coincide with a new look on my website.
Thank you for believing in me when I didn't think I could do it. It's only up from here, baby!
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you fancy and free of chemicals." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.