by Tuere Randall
All the lovely ladies who happen to live in Atlanta can thank their lucky stars. The makers of the Huetiful Hair Steamer just opened their flagship Huetiful Hair Salon to pamper those who want to exchange their hair stresses for radiant tresses. Huetiful hair steamers have made quite a splash in the black haircare community, especially among women who have particularly parched strands that require extra TLC and need a revved up way to infuse their manes with moisture. Well they have kicked it up a notch by entering the hair services game with treatments that focus on getting hair to its optimal health. I caught up with Ken Burkeen, Founder and CEO of Huetiful, and he was gracious enough to take time away from the Huetiful Salon opening to speak to me about his newest endeavor and to get the nanoSMOOTHING lowdown.
TR: So you started out in Fortune 500 companies professionally. What made you switch into the haircare business?
KB: Well, I’ve always had a passion for being an entrepreneur, so starting my own business was a given. But it was while at Procter & Gamble that I realized that Pantene [their line marketed to women of color] wasn’t addressing all the needs that black women had for their hair. And I had heard women discuss the challenges they had with their hair — dry brittle hair, manageability, time consuming — that I saw that there was an opportunity for me to make a difference. I was able to use the skills that I learned as a brand manager at Procter & Gamble and as a marketing executive for UPS and apply them to my own company. Here were these women of color, or hues, who were really looking for a way to take better care of their hair. That is how the idea for “Hue”tiful came along.
Tell us about the nanoSMOOTHING treatment?
The nanoSMOOTHING is similar to the Brazilian Keratin treatment without using all the dangerous chemicals. The Brazilian Keratin treatment works by bonding Keratin (a protein) into the hair shaft to make it smoother, but Keratin is a large molecule and has to be infused into the hair with agents like formaldehyde at very high heat. At Huetiful, we worked with a scientist to find a smaller molecule, cystine, which is an amino acid in Keratin. Its strengthening properties are infused in the hair at a lower temperature than the Brazilian Keratin Treatment. The result is hair that is less porous, smoother, stronger with more manageability using much less heat.
How much less? 450 degrees is the recommended temperature for the Brazilian Keratin treatment.
Well it depends on the individual’s hair type, but I would say on average around 405 degrees.
Ok, well that’s still a bit high, but it’s some improvement.
Well, another benefit is that with the nanoSMOOTHING treatment you only need one, maybe two heat passes with the flatiron, with the Brazilian treatment it’s about five.
Got it. Is this the Huetiful Salon’s signature treatment?
What’s the difference between the nanoSMOOTHING treatment and a texturizer?
A texturizer is basically a less aggressive relaxer. The chemicals in a texturizer breakdown the disulfide bonds in hair permanently altering the curl pattern, whereas the nanoSMOOTHING treatment restructures hair by fortifying it with cysteine, an amino acid that the hair is already made of without disturbing the curl pattern. Another way to look at this is that when you put a texturizer in your hair, it has to be washed out. You can’t leave it in. The nanoSMOOTHING doesn’t need to be washed out. That’s because it’s made with more natural ingredients and doesn’t have all those dangerous chemicals in it.