Moving to a new city comes with its own set of challenges: You have to figure out how to get around, make new friends, and, apparently, you have to create an entirely new hair washing schedule. While that may sound dramatic, moving to NYC from the Midwest was a challenge for me—and not just because I had to drive a 10-foot U-Haul through Manhattan. My hair and skin were not prepared for the muggy city air, and I was not ready for them to react so negatively.
I've always had rather oily skin and hair, but after trying what feels like everything, I had finally gotten my routine down. I washed my face twice a day with an oil cleanser, and I stuck to washing my hair a max of three times a week. My body acne was pretty much non-existent, and I could even sometimes pull off third-day hair sans dry shampoo. But, after moving, that routine quickly backfired.
My chest and back were annoyingly spattered with small red bumps and the occasional breakout. My hair seemed to require daily washing, which I knew could make the oil situation even worse. So, when SEEN haircare reached out and asked me to try its skin-friendly shampoo, I was more than ready to overhaul my whole routine.
SEEN was founded by Dr. Iris Rubin, a Harvard-trained dermatologist. “I started SEEN because my haircare products ended up becoming a big source of breakouts for me,” she says. “I decided I didn't want to have to choose between beautiful hair and beautiful skin. I have naturally curly, frizzy hair and having to make that choice affected the way I felt about myself and my confidence. I knew there had to be a better way.” With multiple patients noticing similar breakouts, she figured it was time to switch up the ingredients used in shampoos, conditioners, and even styling creams to be more skin-friendly.
First, she made sure none of her products contained the "bad stuff"—pore-clogging ingredients, dyes, sulfates, even gluten. "What’s on your hair is on your skin,” Rubin says, "yet hair care products can cause breakouts, with ingredients you would never choose to put on your skin."
Even though I thought I had been using hair products that wouldn’t irritate my skin, I quickly learned otherwise. Within the first few of days using the SEEN line, the bumps on my chest and back faded. In fact, I didn’t feel residue leftover on my skin like I have with other hair products. When I normally rinse conditioner out of my hair, I take extra time to scrub off the filmy layer of product left on my shoulders and back, but I didn’t feel any of that with SEEN's shampoo or conditioner ($50).
“The most rewarding part for us has been positively impacting people's lives,” Rubin says. “We have heard from users that now feel comfortable going out of the house without makeup; others have said they can finally wear clothes that show their back without being self-conscious.” I can attest to this. I felt like I constantly had to cover up my chest and back when I’d break out, but my skin is so clear now that I don’t even give it a second thought.
Plus, my hair seemed softer and less tangled, too. Both the shampoo and conditioner are packed with moisturizing products like shea butter and squalene, which left my strands silky smooth. I had no trouble running a brush through my thick hair after washing it, which made drying and styling my hair a million times easier.
“Our philosophy is to use the optimal mix of natural when possible, and safe synthetics when necessary, to get products that are amazing for the hair and the skin,” she says. “SEEN products are formulated without sulfates, silicones, phthalates, parabens, dyes, and gluten. Our philosophy is out with the bad, and in with the good.”
SEEN also created a Blow-Out Creme ($24) with similar skin-safe ingredients. I use about a dime-size amount of it on damp hair, making sure to apply it before blow drying. It helps protect against heat and UV damage, which was perfect for the NYC weather. Not to mention it also helps reduce pollution damage, which is a must in a huge city. Plus, I can’t complain about it keeping my hair shiny and defined throughout the entire day, either.
Thankfully, the shampoo and conditioner also work with my desired hair washing schedule—I didn’t feel the need to wash my hair everyday like before, and my roots weren’t getting as oily either, so no need for heaps of dry shampoo. My roommate even complimented how nice my hair looked in the morning—before I styled it. That might be what I enjoyed most about these products; they helped me simplify my routine and they helped clear my skin. It was definitely a win-win.