Season's Greening

A Charlestown salon keeps it fabulous and eco-friendly


If there’s just one way to tell if you’re a true Rhode Islander, it’s to hear you complain about the extreme weather. Indeed, our summers get so humid that the phrase, “is it hot enough for you,” is Rhode Islandese for “good morning.” Our winters are just as brutal, and the daily grunts of the past month have been about the seemingly never-ending forecast of snow. As much as I can’t stand shoveling and dealing with power outages, my biggest seasonal gripe this year has been my lackluster hair. At worst it’s frizzy and dull, and at best it’s tucked in a ponytail. I had it colored around the holidays, but the shade and shine were long gone. To snap out of my very own version of SAD – Seasonal Aesthetic Disorder – I decided to try a new approach to hair color.

When I arrived at Natural Style Salon in Charlestown, a crisp, clean scent and a sense of serenity immediately welcomed me. Owner Kristi MacDonough came out to greet and walk me over to her chair. I knew that I wanted to cover my roots, but I didn’t want to use a harsh dye that would further dry me out. I also wanted to add red tones to my brown without it looking artificial, or what I affectionately refer to as “stripper red.” What I thought was a tall order was a reasonable – and better yet, do-able – request. Kristi recommended using Organic Colour Systems, one of the lines she uses. I was a little apprehensive about a natural dye, but Kristi reassured me that the fruit extracts and wheat protein would add the right amount of color and shine without the damaging effects of ammonia and resorcinol.

Kristi, a career stylist and colorist for 25 years, opened Natural Style Salon six years ago as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional salons. After surviving cancer, she made a concerted decision to work with fewer chemicals and harmful products, and in turn offer healthier hair care to her customers. With a variety of organic, ammonia-free and generally greener products and services, Kristi is drawing clients from as far as the East Bay and Connecticut. “About 30 percent of my clients use organic color. Their reasons range from personal choice to being allergic to the chemicals,” she told me. She explained that while some of her products are not organic, all of her offerings are more health and environmentally mindful. “I research all of my products before I order them,” she pointed out, admitting that she has recently removed a product line because she was unsatisfied with the ingredients.

The treatment was similar to the other dyes I’ve had. Kristi applied the color, and then I sat under a heating device so that it could process. “It’s not as harsh as a traditional heat lamp,” she smiled as she wheeled it over. After washing the dye out with a delightfully fragrant shampoo, I was back in the chair for a blowout. Kristi was right – the red shimmered through the rich brown ever-so-nicely, covering all of the dull stuff I walked in with. It might not have been spring yet, but at least I was doing my part to be green.