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Hair Care Health Is the Objective.

CHICAGO -- The vitality of the ethnic health and beauty care market is reflected by the ongoing influx of innovative new products and companies into the sector.

One of the newer players that is gaining increasing attention is Namaste Laboratories LLC, a privately held firm dedicated to addressing the needs of African-Americans for natural, therapeutic hair care products.

The firm was established in 1996 by Gary Gardner, whose family owned Soft Sheen Products Inc. before its acquisition by L'Oreal USA. Gardner, who has degrees in both business and law, has 25 years of experience in the ethnic H&BA field, including a stint as president of Soft Sheen.

According to assistant vice president of marketing Venetta Coley, the company's origin lay in Gardner's recognition of the need for therapeutic products that effectively deal with a broad range of hair problems, including hair loss, dryness, dandruff and damage or stress from application of chemicals. It has developed a collection of products that feature all natural ingredients, particularly herbal extracts, and which are free of chemicals and drugs.

"We use no petroleum, no artificial colors, no dyes and no fillers," Coley says. "There are many products on the market that are petroleum-based and that just sit on top of the hair shaft. We use beta carotene and egg solids to make sure they penetrate the shaft."

That emphasis is what differentiates Namaste, which bills itself as "the original healing hair care company."

"We're not too interested in styles and looks," explains Coley. "We're interested in health."

Coley says the company's product line is currently organized around three therapeutic systems and a collection of products for use on natural hair styles. The first is a four-step hair and scalp restoration system that includes an uplifting shampoo, a temple balm in gel form for application to areas of hair loss, an intensive conditioning treatment intended to strengthen and repair damaged hair, and carrot oil or olive oil.

"We recommend carrot oil, which contains beta carotene, for weak and damaged hair, and olive oil for extremely dry hair," explains Coley.

The hair maintenance system, designed especially for people with relaxed hair styles, includes an herbal tea infusion that blends protein-enriched botanicals and healing herbs for styling. The third system addresses the problems of itchy scalp and dandruff and features two key products, a hair dress balm that soothes the scalp while eliminating dandruff flakes and a blend of light botanical oils to moisturize the scalp and relieve itching.

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Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 25, 2001
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