By  on October 3, 2008

Natural hair care products have such a bad rap for subpar performance that salon veterans John Amato and Teri LaVerne are vying to change the industry’s perception with worldly ingredients-driven Rare El’ements International Hair Collection.

The new brand, recently picked up by Los Angeles area stores Planet Blue, Vert, Essentials and Marie Mason Apothecary, has launched with three products: the 1-oz. El’ Treatment for $44, the 8.5-oz. Pure Shampoo for $34 and the 6.5-oz. Essential Conditioner for $44.

Amato and LaVerne, former owners of Amato Hair Studio, which opened in Beverly Hills in 1990, sense that consumers are turning to natural hair care products, and salons and spas are in need of such products that function up to the level of their professional counterparts. “We believe that the industry is going toward the healthier alternative,” said Amato. “We want to offer a healthier alternative they can trust.”

Rare El’ements traces its origins back roughly eight years ago when former model LaVerne was forced to cut off all her hair because it was thoroughly damaged during her jobs. As a result, she began to concoct serums to rectify a lack of moisture in her hair and eventually hit upon a formula that the stylists and clients at Amato Hair Studio raved about.

“They watched me go from dry damaged hair to strong, healthy hair,” said LaVerne, who along with Amato closed the salon last November to pursue the product business. “We are about reconstructing, rehydrating and getting people’s hair back to that healthy state so they are not limited with what they can do with their hair.”

The serum became El’ Treatment, which LaVerne and Amato suggest can be used before and after coloring and is the star product of Rare El’ements’ initial lineup. It contains an African oil called marula, an omega-3 source called camelina, a moisturizer called baobab and meadowfoam from New Zealand. In addition, it has macadamia, shea butter, avocado and rose hip.

“We want to get away from camouflaging any kind of damage with silicon and harmful ingredients,” said LaVerne. Ingredients in the shampoo and conditioner include nourishing black seed, a watermelon seed oil called kalahari, cupuaçu butter from Brazil, phulwara butter native to Nepal and Abyssinia.

Renata Helfman, owner of eco-shopping destination Vert, located on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Los Angeles’ Venice neighborhood, decided to carry Rare El’ements after trying the product line. “It is for someone who wants a very luxurious experience, and I think it is not for oily hair as much as it is for someone who is color treated and needs to put back moisture in their hair,” she said.

In Rare El’ements’ first year, LaVerne and Amato’s goal is to distribute the line in 200 to 300 doors. In 2009, they predict that sales will amount to $300,000. Their next project is to work on pet items and body lotions to grow Rare El’ements.

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