Boris Oak & SmartBody by EVOLVh

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I first found EVOLVh hair products while living in Fort Worth, Texas. I came across the line in a small store called Natural Grocers; one of my first ever blog pieces was about those products. I never dreamed I’d be sitting across from the founder a year later to learn more about his company! Life is funny like that sometimes.

Boris and I met in a quaint coffee shop in Sacramento: he had been teaching all about his products at a salon training earlier in the day. We order cappuccinos and make our way to one of the small tables. He is one of those people who immediately treats you like family – I felt as if I had known him for years.

 

L: “So what I want to know is: what is your background in hair?”

B: “My mom is a hairstylist, and a salon owner and opened a salon when I was 12. So I’ve been perpetually sweeping hair since I was a child. She broke all the child labor laws and had me working at a very young age. So what happened is over time her business really grew, and it grew to a two location business with 40 hairdressers and a full spa with estheticians. It became like a little company. In the fall of 2002 she convinced me to go to New York with her to a business building seminar with a little company called Bumble & Bumble. I took a week off work; I was working in Silicon Valley in sales and completely drank the Kool-aid. I left really believing that I was going to be the next truly great hair salon entrepreneur. One of the all time greats – that was going to be my life.”

L: “Are you a licensed cosmetologist yourself?”

B: “No, I can only do hair with my eyes. My hands have not been trained yet. But I can visually see a great haircut. If you were to ask me to do a haircut, I only specialize in abstract hair cutting.” (laughter)

 

After the summit in New York, he came back to work at his mom’s salon and grew their business to be the largest Bumble & Bumble retailer in California. His plan was to go into merchandising and by chance he was introduced to Gary Smith – the chemist responsible for the Jheri curl.  Boris describes him as “an amazing chemist, and a truly iconic formulator'”. However, Mr. Smith was only interested in working with natural ingredients at this point in his career – a sharp contrast from the iconic 1980’s hair style.

Boris added, “He’s really the only reason I did this because I just really felt like the last thing the world really needed was another hair care brand because there are so many products. I think what I noticed then, and even more so now, is that most hair care products are more alike than they are different. So everything is really like a ‘me too’ or another version of something else. When I started playing with the product he sent me to test, the lab samples, I pretty much immediately knew this was something totally different.”

In 2008, EVOLVh was born with the mission to create a high performance, natural and organic ‘clean product’. This was before the term ‘clean beauty’ had caught on. The first product they worked on was the Ultimate Styling Lotion.  He remarked, “I wanted to make the ultimate all in one; a product that would add hold, add shine, remove frizz, add moisture, all that kind of stuff. [Rather than] layering products, I know people really wanted simplification”.

Despite the simplistic approach, there is truly something for everyone within EVOLVh. Each line within the brand is meant to be used together cohesively for the best results (hence why you can buy the Healthy Hair Trios). The sets start with either the UltraShine or SmartCurl Shampoo and Conditioner to cleanse and moisturize the hair, and then you  use the SmartStart Leave-In Conditioner, which Boris describes as a toner for the hair. The pH of the leave-in is acidic which helps to seal the cuticle of the hair resulting in high shine, less tangles, and color preservation. It’s also high in fatty acids to create a protective, light-weight barrier on the hair.

Another fun tidbit I learned during this interview: The UltraRepair Reconstructing Masque can be used as a pre-color treatment.  It is high in L-tyrosine, which is an amino acid that rebuilds the hair fiber. You simply apply some to wet hair (without rinsing), blow dry it in, and proceed with the color application.  (Full how-to and my personal experience here). He added, “The L-tyrosine is like a magnet for color pigment which will help it to deposit more evenly, so it’s actually an amazing filler. It evens out the porosity of the hair, so then you get an even tone from roots to ends eliminating spotting, [and] banding.” For salon professionals, this can be used as a cutting masque too, simply rinsing before styling. Even if used post color, it will help to lock in hair color. You can also find the L-tyrosine in the newly launched SmartColor line.

What can we expect from EVOLVh in the future?

They will continue to expand the hair care lines with more products in each subcategory. That means more products for volumizing, curl, hold, and texture! When I asked about the possibility of branching into a hair color line, it’s not currently a focus but he didn’t rule it out for the future! (Fingers crossed because it would be ahhmazing, no doubt.)

L: “With EVOLVh you’ve got the actual care of the hair and body and things like that, would you ever do some type of a hybrid with cosmetics?”

B: “Like color cosmetics? I would love to, yeah. I’ve actually been thinking about that the past few days.”

Yes, please.

Meet SmartBody

Aligning with the overall philosophy of caring for the hair from the inside out, EVOLVh have expanded their line to include body care as well! The launch includes the SmartBody Wash, Lotion, and Butter. Like the hair care lines, these are top notch formulations.

These products are pure luxury. My skin tends to be dry and itchy; oftentimes body washes will further dehydrate my skin. Lotions sometimes leave me feeling drier over time because of high alcohol contents. Body butters often feel greasy on the skin or take too long to absorb.

With the SmartBody line, I experience none of those issues.

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The SmartBody wash comes in an 8.5oz. bottle with a manual foaming pump. I love these style pumps because they make a little product go a long way, and with one this concentrated you won’t be pouring it down the drain! The formula is designed to improve the appearance of skin from aging concerns to blemishes while moisturizing. The key targeting ingredients are kiwi seed oil, black cumin seed oil, and almond oil.  The fragrance of this is grapefruit – super light and fresh – and it leaves my skin feeling cleansed and hydrated after a shower!

The Smartbody Lotion comes in an 8.5oz. bottle as well with a pump. The formula is lightweight but packs a hefty punch of hydration with the same grapefruit scent that isn’t overpowering. Personally, I love this…it reminds me of summer beach vacations and the lotion I’d apply after a day in the sun! It’s fast absorbing, so I don’t feel like I have to wait for an extended period of time after application to get dressed. I definitely feel this improves the smooth appearance of skin and gives a nice glow without being greasy. This formula is high in shea and mango seed butters and oils, but it still manages to feel like a traditional lotion.

My absolute favorite product from the SmartBody line, the Body Butter. It’s absolutely divine! It’s so rich an creamy without leaving a greasy film on the skin, and it has the same lovely grapefruit scent as the other two products in the line. This body butter even helped me avoid tummy stretch marks during pregnancy! Between using the body butter and the lotion, I feel that my skin somehow looks more taught.

Kudos to EVOLVh for making it easy to switch to natural beauty without making it feel like a sacrifice in familiarity or quality!

 

Get the whole collection here!

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