A Q&A with Simone Abaron, founder of A.po.te'ca.ri®
We speak to Simone Abaron, the founder of bioactive hair care brand A.po.te’ca.ri®. The brand was born and nurtured in Sydney’s Bondi Beach by Simone who holds an associate certificate in Trichology and is also a qualified naturopath, herbalist and nutritionist. Here, she shares the story of how the brand came to be.
When did you begin Apotecari and what inspired you?
In a nutshell, a massive gap and an otherworldly passion. About five years ago, living the best and invincible life of a Bondi girl in her early 30s, I was sitting in my stylist’s chair pleading for balayage after a 5-year stint of Japanese straightening treatments. The responsible answer at the time should have been “NO” (it should always be ‘no’), but we proceeded, led by the conviction of my then-stylist’s confidence and the glossy pages of balayage-kissed celebs in front of me. My hair, before snapping off, turned to jelly. I left the salon (for life) with an unintentionally-asymmetric bob, inches shorter than the glorious mane I walked in with. In my life, nature and science go hand-in-hand and have always played an influential role; they’re my passions. At the time, I had 10 years’ experience as a formulating naturopath, creating big-brand therapeutic products in the Australian health and beauty space, applying my certifications in science, naturopathy, herbalism and nutrition to my every day, both professionally and personally. I turned here first; I was on the hunt for a nutritional supplement or herbal medicine that was going to repair my hair. It seemed there were no targeted hair supplements in existence and multipurpose supplements sometimes didn’t contain the potency required to achieve noticeable, short-term results. I was committed to formulating a solution. Hours of research evolved into the certification of Trichology (the science of the hair and scalp) and adding this to the disciplines of naturopathy, herbalism and nutrition, the concept of Apotecari was born, launching officially in 2017.
Having spoken with hair professionals and after hundreds of research hours in this space, three points became obvious:
- this gap didn’t just exist in my life
- there are multiple conditions that commonly affect people
- different hair requires different nutrition; there is never a one-size-fits-all
What was the initial vision for Apotecari? Has that changed over time?
Combined with achieving science-based results, Apotecari has always been about the experience and that’s wrapped up in every corner of the brand. Circa 2017 before we pioneered the concept of edible hair care, we refined what it truly meant to be Apotecari.
We knew we had to be ethical. To be anything else would have gone against every fibre of our beings. Ingredient selection, sourcing, sustainability, premium quality and packaging selections – everything is given the highest and most ethical level of consideration.
We knew we had to make a difference. There are a plethora of challenges we experience with our hair and scalps – and no one-size-fits-all solution. Apotecari essentials are free from nasties and help those looking for improved scalp health, hair length, growth, strength, structural integrity, colour vibrancy, health, premature greying and those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or with autoimmune conditions.
We knew knowledge was key – and that’s what would differentiate us. With naturopaths, trichologists, herbalists, nutritionists and their experience of the high-quality Australian healthcare space at our core, we decided Apotecari would be formulated upon three pillars: nature, science and ancient wisdom. Educating Australians to make healthy hair choices and making this knowledge accessible has opened a number of conversations and enabled us to further develop our range.
Quality of everything. We’re nothing without it. We made a commitment that our ingredients and packaging would always be selected from ethical and high-quality sources; that our sources would not harm animals nor exploit species and their ecosystems; that any ingredient included in our range is sourced with careful consideration to the impact of the planet; and that each ingredient plays a role in that product’s potency. We also made the commitment to deliver a beautiful and convenient addition to your daily hair and beauty regime and you see this in our design and the appearance of our essentials.
Transparency is important to us, so we figured it would be to you too. Truth be told, we prefer speaking about you and giving you the solutions you need, but from the get-go we knew having all our cards on the table would benefit you – and a more sustainable planet.
Our vision remains, with the exception of broadening our horizons to international markets.
We remain proudly Australian; our products being listed on the TGA (with the exception of Hair Food which is classified as a ‘food’).
Where did the name, Apotecari, come from?
For millennia, dating back to 1550BC and as recently as the 19th century, health ailments in all cultures were typically treated using the ancient wisdom of medicinal plants, or ‘herbal medicines’. As communities grew and commerce evolved, for specialist advice and for treatments, people would go to an apothecary – essentially a vintage pharmacy. ‘Apotecari’ is the translation of ‘Apothecary’ in Catalan, the language spoken in Barcelona; a place very dear to Simone’s heart. When it came to naming the Apotecari experience, it made luminous sense to integrate our operations, visions, values and respect for ancient tradition.
Can you explain what bioactive means in terms of hair care?
We call something ‘bioactive’ when it’s active on a cellular level, working internally. The term is an abridged version of ‘biologically active’. The natures of topical hair care treatments are not bioactive, meaning they aren’t influencing the physiological processes in the body. The term and our ‘bioactive’ process is what really sets us apart from conventional types of hair care – we’re all about working from the inside out.
What ingredients should we avoid when it comes to our hair, by both ingestible and topical means?
The general rule in the hair health space is: if the creators of a brand aren’t using their own product, nor should you.
Know. Like. Trust.
There’s a lot to be said about questioning the brands we rely on for our health and beauty. Get to know them. A brand’s ethos and practices around ingredients, quality, sourcing, sustainability, location of manufacture, research, and formulation development all play a role in our life. Are their practices likeable? And are they trustworthy? When it comes to ingredients and packaging, avoid what you know to have a negative impact on our environment.
Palm oil and animal-derived ingredients (including marine collagen, shark collagen and fish oils), for example, have a devastating and catastrophic impact on our animal populations, ecosystems and planet; unless the company can produce sustainability certification, avoid. It’s important to do your own research. If there is an ingredient you don’t recognise on the label of your hair care product, do some research to find out what it is and if it’s right for you.
When it comes to packaging, the same applies. Are your hair care brands using plastics, microplastics, petrochemicals or GMO ingredients?
When it comes to ingestibles, avoid ingredients which have a known effect on hormones, because they can lead to flow on effects. These are ingredients like Saw Palmetto, Korean Ginseng, Kelp, and Tribulus – and are commonly used in ingestible hair growth products. Choose products based on the activity and bioavailbility of their ingredients; for example, opt for activated B vitamins over conventional B vitamins for enhanced activity. Also, Australian made is best – we have rigorous quality and manufacturing standards here. When it comes to topical products, sulfates, parabens, silicone, alcohol, diethanolamine, mineral oils, petroleum-based ingredients, phthalates, and propylene glycol are key ones to avoid.
Where do you source your ingredients?
Having spent my career as a formulation naturopath, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world sourcing incredible ingredients. We use a variety of sources for the Apotecari range, dependent upon where the highest-quality and most potent forms can be found. Our sources include Australia, the US, Europe, Canada, China and India. Each Apotecari ingredient, regardless of origin, goes through extremely rigorous testing and qualification before use and manufacture in Australia.
What is your favourite product in the Apotecari range? How do you use it?
Tough question – this is like asking me to choose a favourite child! Each product serves a purpose and this qualified team has put together some downright beautiful formulations. I, along with the team, use all four of our products daily, but if I had to choose, my pick of the moment would be Hair Food. It’s delicious with its pomegranate and berry flavour and knowing that it’s bioactively targeting your hair health with quality proteins and serious Vitamin C for collagen production is amazing. Smoothies let you get creative too. Our original three essentials take the form of pills and a smoothie means I can add banana, avocado and LSA, or simply soy or macadamia milk – it can change daily. One of our customers, who’s a nutritionist, adds Hair Food to her smoothie bowl. It’s just so versatile.
What is your best advice for achieving and maintaining healthy hair?
Find a stylist who prioritises the health of your hair first and foremost. Apotecari-exclusive stockists undertake training in nutrition, hair anatomy and trichology. They’ll be able to identify anything that could hinder what you’re trying to achieve and treat it by prescribing the best product/s for you. Healthy hair needs to be a marriage of internal and external hair care. Avoid high heat tools, or if you need a little heat in your life, adjust the heat setting on your flat iron and curling tong – it should be on the very lowest temperature setting. Styling may take longer, but not as long as it will to counteract the damage caused by high heat in the long-run! Wearing your hair in a very tight braid, bun, pony tail too often is also a big no-no, it can result in hair breakage which will seriously delay those hair goals. Finally, a good scalp massage each week might seem a little decadent, but is helpful at distributing your natural oils and stimulating blood circulation for increased hair health. Always consult with your hair stylist too to make sure your colour choice and cut are well suited to the condition of your hair. They should be your hair doctor at the end of the day, so when looking for a new stylist, do your research.
What’s next for Apotecari?
Our product development pipeline is overflowing with edible hair care goodness – watch this space! We have a big year ahead with education too – knowing your nutrition (and seeing the results) is so rewarding, and achievable. We’ll continue to focus on developing the concept of ‘edible hair care’ that put us on the map both domestically and internationally.
For more, visit apotecari.com.au
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