No Chemicals, All Science: Restore Your Hair to Its Youthful Color and Luster

Hairprint after

My hair has gone quite gray in my 40’s, and I hadn’t seen its natural color in more than a decade. But now I have. My hair (the non-highlighted part) is currently the color it was when I was in high school—I mean the EXACT color. Like, scientifically the exact color.

I posted an Instagram and Facebook photo of the process a couple months ago, and many of you were curious what I was using. Was I transitioning to my natural gray state of affairs? No. I’m not that brave yet.

About the get the most high tech and least toxic hair color of my life #hairprint #haircolor #youcaneatit

A photo posted by Kristen Philipkoski (@stylenik) on

So here’s the scoop: it’s not a dye, it’s a product called Hairprint. It’s called that because, like your finger with it’s fingerprint, your hair has a unique identifier associated with its original color, even if it has turned completely gray. Hairprint accesses that color and brings it back to the surface of your hair.

My husband declared snake oil when I first told him about this stuff, but I’ve had two treatments now and I can tell you it’s real.

It was invented by a scientist named Dr. John Warner, co-founder of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, who’s known as the father of green chemistry. His background is not in beauty or cosmetics, rather he’s worked on treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and new ways of creating semiconductors. Here’s an excerpt from his bio:

He has published over 200 patents, papers and books. His recent work in the fields of semiconductor design, biodegradable plastics, personal care products, solar energy and polymeric photoresists are examples of how green chemistry principles can be immediately incorporated into commercially relevant applications.

Just in case you were wondering if he’s legit. He wasn’t looking for a way to rid the world of gray hair, and I kind of doubt his own white hairs really bothered him much. But he stumbled upon it and realized he could help thousands, (millions?), of women avoid dousing their heads in toxic chemicals. Studies have shown a link between traditional hair color products and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. So Hairprint maybe be a beauty product but it may also save lives.

Warner was experimenting on gray hair extensions, but couldn’t get consistent color. A thought occurred to him: He asked the manufacturer if the hair all came from the same donor. When the answer was “no,” he realized Hairprint was morphing and customizing to turn each strand of hair back to its original color.

Here’s the science in a nutshell: the plant-based, odor-free product mirrors the hair’s natural pigmentation process by replacing eumelanin, the stuff in hair that creates color (like the melanin in your skin).

You can even eat it. The company’s general manager, Paul Jackson, did just that while I was getting my first Hairprint treatment at their headquarters in Sausalito.

That was my first treatment—it was a first for both of us! I was Philippa Shenendoa’s first guinea pig client, and I almost fled without getting the service because it turns out highlights can be a problem. If Hairprint gets into those chemically lightened areas, the light parts can turn pitch black. And as you may have seen, I have a pretty major ombre.

I was willing to risk going all-dark to try out the product—it was too intriguing not to. But I have to admit I breathed a sigh of relief when my ombre remained intact. Philippa loaded up my highlights with conditioner, then wrapped them in a plastic bag before rinsing the color through and all was well.
The product changes from pink to nearly black after you mix the wet and dry ingredients together (see above). For the application, Philippa very gingerly brushed on the mousse-y goop as neatly as she could. I loved the color but and the coverage was a bit spotty, and it faded fairly quickly (see photos—sorry for the variations in lighting and distance from the camera!).

Hairprint treatment 1

May 13 (before treatment), May 14 (day of treatment), May 18

I was intrigued enough, though, to try it again. It turns out you need to really douse your hair and it can get a bit messy. The thicker you goop it on, the better it works. So the second time Philippa applied it, this time at her salon in Sausalito, she laid it on thick, and the results were amazing (see photos!).

There is one more hitch: it only works on dark hair. Sorry blondies! But don’t worry, Warner and his team are working on a solution for you. They started with dark hair because more than 90 percent of the world has dark hair. You really can’t blame them.

You CAN highlight the hair once it’s been treated with Hairprint—and since highlights don’t usually touch the scalp, they’re less worrisome in the toxicity department.

One more thing: you have to apply the product in three phases, so it’s for sure time consuming (worth it though, to me, for the lack of toxins and natural look).

Loving my toned down ombré, thank you @pippaflip!! #hair #beauty #ombré

A photo posted by Kristen Philipkoski (@stylenik) on

For my second treatment, after the third and final application, Philippa removed the protective plastic bag from my ombred hair and rinsed Hairprint through so the product could act as a toner to my brassy-looking highlights. Again, I was a little nervous, but I’m over the moon happy with the results. It looks so natural and reminds me of that time when I was 8-years-old and my neighbor stopped me in the street to say: “My goodness, girl, your hair is shiny!”

Hairprint second treatment

June 26 (really getting gray!), June 27, June 29—obsessed with the chocolate-y color. And hey it’s my natural hair color!

Healthy, shiny hair seems to be another, somewhat unexpected, bonus of Hairprint. African American women in particular are reporting that their hair is stronger and better able to withstand straightening and ironing after they use the stuff.

You can buy Hairprint online and apply it yourself for $49. I have to say, though, I’m glad I Philipa has been doing it for me, at least the first few times. I imagine there would be a bit of a learning curve, but it could certainly be done at home successfully.

June 29, July 2, July 14—a few weeks later, a gray or two is popping through but the color is still good.

June 29, July 2, July 14—a few weeks later, a gray or two is popping through but the color is still good.

Lastly, this stuff is amazing for men. It’s a sad fact that men always look weird when they color their hair, but not with Hairprint. Since it really is your natural hair color, it doesn’t look alien. And—call it a glitch or a feature—Hairprint sometimes has a hard time covering the baby hairs around the hairline, which can actually give men a natural, salt and pepper look. Watch this video to see how good it looks on Dr. Warner!

Keep an eye on my Forbes page for another report about the science behind Hairprint. I’ll be interviewing Dr. Warner and will get into more detail on how this magic really works. In the meantime, check out the loads of info they have on their website. Fascinating stuff! Let me know if you try it!

Full disclosure: this is not a sponsored post! Philippa provided the service to me for free in return for being her guinea pig. But she paid for the product and is not affiliated with Hairprint. Check out her Instagram!

Get a Sweet Nutrition Boost and Enter to Win a Spa Day!


This post was sponsored by Olly.

Even though I live at the beach, my doctor informed me a couple years ago that I have a vitamin D deficiency. Bummer! I’ve purchased vitamins several times since then but, unsurprisingly, I always forget to take them. That means every year when I get my check-up, I still have a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to brittle bones and depression—not cool at all. But I have a feeling the next doctor visit might be different, because I pretty much never forget to take my Olly vitamins—a recently-launched brand of delicious, chewable vitamins. They sit on the kitchen counter next to the coffee (which I obviously never forget to make!), and as soon as I catch a glimpse of them, I start salivating like Pavlov’s dog—that’s how yummy they are. They’re a nice little sweet jolt of nutrition and sweetness first thing in the morning.

When I found out they also made a product with melatonin, I snapped that up too. I have a teenager now, and his sleeping habits are all over the place. When he needs to get up in the morning for school or basketball camp, he HAS to get a good night’s sleep. Melatonin, since it’s natural, makes me much more comfortable as a parent than another type of sleep aid. And the bonus is it tastes like a grape gummy bear.


I tried the citrus and the berry versions of the women’s multivitamin (I think berry is my fave!). Until recently, my diet was pretty atrocious, so I figured I would cover all of my bases with a multi. But now that I’ve gotten my eating and health a bit more under control, I’m going to try the vitamin D3-specific Olly product.

With its beautiful packaging and revolutionary concept—how did no one think of this sooner; kids chewables have been around forever!—it’s no surprise that one of Method’s co-founders is behind Olly. Read more about it here.


To celebrate their official launch, Olly is throwing a Sweet Bliss Sweepstakes! The grand prize is a Day Spa package for a lucky winner and a friend, a 6 months supply of Olly Vitamins, and a personal wellness consultation with Olly’s resident nutritionist! Plus, 100 runner ups will receive an Olly product of their choosing. Check out the link for more details and to enter!


Get Beautiful and Raise Money for Clean Water

You know water is a critical issue in San Francisco and all of California, and will be for the foreseeable future. And it’s Earth month, so Aveda is doing its part by hosting a ‘Cut-A-Thon’ to benefit the Clean Water Fund at its salons around the world. In San Francisco, tomorrow, April 14, head to Cinta Aveda Institute (305 Kearny), where 100% of proceeds from all services will be donated towards Aveda San Francisco’s local clean water partner, Clean Water Fund.

Whether you need a haircut, blow dry, color, facial, or wax, all of the money will go towards clean water.

Last year’s Cut-A-Thon at CAI San Francisco, raised $18,000. This year they’re hoping for $20,000 this year. Help them out, won’t you? The prices are pretty amazing, check out the menu below:
[Read more…]

I Finally Found the Perfect Curling Iron

Hair by Barbara at Barrow Salon in SF

Hair by Barbara at Barrow Salon in SF

I’ve talked a lot here on the blog about how I do my hair, and I’ve talked about it elsewhere. I used to wash my hair pretty often, because I dance a lot and get sweaty. But over the past two years, my hair-washing frequency has significantly decreased, which likely has a lot to do with the small human in my life.


That would be her! That means my previous technique of letting my hair dry in twists to create a beachy wave now has its limits. After a few days, the curls gets a bit frizzy and flattened and needs some attention. So I’ve taken to using a curling iron to clean things up, but I’ve never found one that creates a shape that I’m in love with. Until now! Barbara Thompson at Barrow Salon introduced me to the Hot Tools 1.25-inch curling iron, and I’m finally happy with my dirty, iron-curled hair. Previous irons were too big, too small or weirdly tapered (I still dont get the point of those). Also, they didn’t get hot enough. This one solves all of that, it’s pretty, and it only costs $40 (on sale on Amazon now). It’s less expensive because it’s not made of fancy ceramic or tourmaline, which the experts say is healthier for your hair. But I haven’t experienced any damage, yet. Just be careful not to burn off your hair like this poor girl.

hot tools

What’s in Your Bag for Spring Break?

bag contents

I’ve collaborated on a video with Glam to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart: spring break. The truth this year mine will be spent welcoming a new member of our family in to our home and my vacation will likely come in July, when I’ll finally pack up this cute BluKicks bag with my favorite Mara Hoffman kaftan and a few other essentials and lounge for hours on the warm sand.

Watching the video made me realize some serious sunscreen would also be vital, like Maria emphasized in her segment, and a giant hat like Nkechi mentions. Both of them and the Glam crew were so much fun on set, can’t wait to do it again! What are your essentials for spring break?

The Secret Ingredient in This Face Magic: Powdered Pearl

Photo by Kourosh Karimkhany

Photo by Kourosh Karimkhany

This past weekend, the husband and I took a trip down to Southern California to visit his family. For the first time in the history of my blogging life, HE SUGGESTED we take an outfit photo. He is in love with the mountain behind my head in this photo, and he’s always wanted to stop and try to get a better look at it. It’s on route 152 on a stretch of truly beautiful land scattered with farms and hills.

As usual, I was rushing around as we packed up the car and wrangled Frida into the car seat. I figured I’d apply my makeup on the way, but then Kourosh said these four horrible words: “Do you mind driving?” Ugh. But he ALWAYS drives and he always does so many other things too so of course I said yes.
[Read more…]

In a World With No Selfies… #TBT

It's 1992, let's play a CD!

It’s 1992, let’s play a CD!

Listen, kids. In 1992, we didn’t have digital cameras. We certainly didn’t have digital cameras on our phones! The luxury of retaking a selfie 800 times to make sure we looked pretty was not something we possessed. THE WORD SELFIE DIDN’T EXIST. As a result, this is what my photos looked like.

This was me in 1992. I’m in my very first San Francisco apartment at the corner of Masonic and Page in the Haight. I was wearing an L7 t-shirt, a female grunge band I discussed earlier this week, and who recently got back together (yay!). In 1992 I listened to them by inserting a CD into a CD player. I ate large plates of pasta covered with tomato sauce from a jar because I didn’t have much money. I had a spiral perm. My boyfriend, whose identity I tried to protect here, leased the apartment while I was still living in Colorado. I agreed to move into the place with him sight unseen. Apparently I was pretty laid back back then.

This was our very first night in the apartment. My belongings were scattered all over the floor. We eventually decorated the place with tapestries and Bob Dylan posters and tchotchkes picked up from sidewalk sales (there seemed to be a lot more of those back then, maybe because Craigslist didn’t exist yet?)

Aren’t throwback Thursdays fun? Also, I may be having a little too much fun with my Sprout (more here and here). But hey, I never learned Photoshop, having come up in a time when it didn’t exist, so it’s endlessly fun to play around with this thing.

Stainiac by theBalm Made Me Love Lip Color Again

Serge et Moi

Serge et Moi

I had the pleasure of visiting theBalm at 788 Valencia Street in San Francisco recently on an important journalistic assignment to review their makeup tutorial service. It’s totally free, and includes your own personal video of your visit. Want to learn how to create the perfect cat eye? Contouring? A red lip? Whatever you’re wondering about, they’ll show you how to do it and record the process. I’m now devoted to this brand, especially since their products are not tested on animals and are free of nasty ingredients.

My new favorite: Stainiac by @thebalm_cosmetics. #nofilter More on the blog!

A photo posted by Kristen Philipkoski (@stylenik) on

The demo made it clear I had to purchase the Stainiac lip stain. Not since M.A.C.’s Twig in the ’90s have I found a lip color I could really love. And in 20 years I don’t think I’ll be horrified by it. Old photos show that brown lips are not cute on my face, alas! Stainiac, which comes in one color called Beauty Queen is just… pretty. And it doesn’t dry too fast or streak in the process like other lip stains. The formula is a gel that contains aloe, which gives you a little more time to blend before it dries.


If you’re in San Francisco and check out the Valencia shop, you have to find Serge and tell him I sent you. He has mad skills and is the sweetest.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Sugaring But Were Afraid to Ask

Photo via Spa Zeeba

It had been a WHILE since I had attended to certain unmentionable grooming situations. So it was serendipitous that 7×7 magazine asked me to check out Habit, a hair removal establishment in Cow Hollow that offers waxing and sugaring (period, hair removal is their thing). Since I hadn’t heard of sugaring, I wanted to try it (look out for the 7×7 article in the March issue!)

Sugaring is like waxing, but so much better. First off, they for real use sugar. The golden (like when you caramelize sugar) substance contains sugar, lemon and water, that’s it. They say you can even eat it and it’s delicious (though I stopped short of a taste test). Amy at Habit rolled a blob of it around in her fingertips like a malleable crystal ball as she told me all about how she got started in sugaring. She started in waxing in L.A., but didn’t love it. She had heard tell of sugaring and wanted to learn more, so she made an appointment to try it out for herself. As luck would have it, her sugarer was Lisa Kennedy, the woman who invented the modern method of sugaring and is now the president and CEO of Alexandria, the country’s premier certification (it’s not included in a regular esthetician’s license) and sugar products source.

It didn’t take Amy long to fall for this new technique. It undid everything she disliked about waxing: It’s applied at room temperature and flicked away from the skin without fabric strips or tongue depressors. Instead of pulling in the opposite direction of hair growth, with sugaring you pull IN the direction of growth, which causes fewer ingrown hairs because you’re not yanking the hair backwards which can lead to the regrowth getting caught under the skin, i.e. ingrown hairs. There’s also less breakage, because sugar sticks to hair better than wax, and therefore is better at yanking the whole hair from the root, thereby leaving you smooth longer. Sugar only sticks to dead things, like hair, but not to alive things like skin. Also if there’s any residue left after the treatment, it rinses off easily with water because it’s just water-soluble sugar. Amy went on to get certified, moved to San Francisco, and now trains all of Habit’s sugar technicians.

I mean what’s not to like? I guess if you’re OK with wax—the pain doesn’t bother you and you don’t get ingrown hairs, there’s not a big reason to switch, since sugaring is a little more expensive. But if you have any issues with wax, you have every reason to try out sugaring. And you should really try it at Habit, because the place is gorgeous and the women, including founder Carrie Maxwell, are wonderful. I wanted to claim them all as BFFs by the time I left. Have you tried sugaring? What did you think?

What I Learned From Six Beauty Appointments in Five Days

Hair by Barbara at Barrow Salon in SF

Hair by Barbara at Barrow Salon in SF

I just spent the last week on a special journalistic assignment that required visits to half a dozen beauty and wellness establishments in five days. The project came just before a trip out of town for my sister in law’s birthday Dance Your Ass Off party in SoCal, so I also needed nails and a facial, which fell outside of my professional purview. There were challenges, like when I had to rush across town from a chiropractic appointment in the Castro to a hair appointment in Union Square. The time invested was significant, and the planning required precision in order to fit everything in.

But I would never complain, because you would totally punch me for whining about a job that involves getting pampered.

I now have a perfect bikini line from Habit, a wonderful balayage with pops of pink from Barrow Salon (see above, the cut and previous balayage is by Anastasia at Hair Collective), flawless nails from my local ReFresh salon in Pacifica, pretty decent skin thanks to Sofia Skin Care and Serenity MedSpa, excellent makeup skills courtesy of The Balm, and a less painful back thanks to Fitwell Chiropractic.

While I was racing in between all these appointments, it occurred to me that this might be a normal schedule for women who are impeccable about keeping up their appearance. And I wondered, how in the name of god do they do it? I tend to get my nails done only when I have a special event, and I wear very little makeup on a daily basis. This was the first attention my bikini line has attention in … let’s say a while, and I get my hair cut and colored probably twice per year. Keeping everything perfect would require an expense that would infuriate the husband, and frankly I am lazy.

The feminist in me wondered: Why should women incur such expense—while getting paid less than men—to look perfect at all times, austensibly for the benefit of men?

But then that feminist in me realized that truth is, we don’t do it for men. We pamper ourselves because we like the creativity of getting pink hair, the art of an awesome cut, the orderliness of an attended-to bikini line, and the beauty of an unblemished face. Or not! The other beautiful thing is that we can pay as much attention to aesthetics as we like.

Also, with each new fabulous woman I met during these treatments, I felt more and more like I was in this club of women who loved women. Not in a sexual way, but in a way that we all take care of each other. Girls’ girls, if the term doesn’t offend. There wasn’t competition or judgement, there was support and acceptance.

As Courtney Martin of Feministing says in this video, “I think that part of the work of feminism is to admit that aesthetics, that beauty, that fun do matter.” Amen, sister.

Look what hair genius @barbdoeshair just did!

A photo posted by Kristen Philipkoski (@stylenik) on