Meet the Curl Boss Behind Canadian Haircare Line LUS Brands
This is Texture Talk, a weekly column that deep dives into the dynamic world of curly hair, from crowns of curls that are free flowing to strands that are tucked away in a protective style.
Frizz: The unwelcome F-word in beauty that has been tossed around for decades when it comes to hair. Something that’s seen as needing to be tamed, dealt with and, whether overt or veiled, a word that has long been directed at curly hair. Just Google synonyms for frizz and, bam: every curl type (wave, curl, coil and kink) shows up.
The beauty industry’s stance on fighting frizzy curls has softened as of late thanks to more and more curly-haired folks learning to except and embrace their natural textures, but when Toronto-based Sahar Saidi got the idea to start her own curl line, LUS Brands, back in 2015, the mainstream messaging around caring for textured hair still came with a heavy negative tone — and product-packed haircare regimens as a direct result.
“Big and small brands were positioning curly hair as this massive problem to be solved, and then they were saying, ‘Here’s all this product to deal with your problem.’ I was really tired of being told we needed multiple products to tame our frizz, control our manes and maintain our hair,” chronicles Saidi. And for the 39-year-old, an exhausting and onerous hair routine, along with an incessant desire to buy countless different products that looked like they’d solve her curly hair needs, have been a part of her hair journey since she was a teen. “I bought my first set of hair products at 15 with money from my first part-time job. That’s twenty years of me buying hair products before starting my company at 35,” she shares. “I have a lot of hair and, as I got older, I wanted to simplify my routine.”
Motivated to make things easier for all curls and fed up with the idea that she needed to wrestle with nature, the entrepreneur left her decade-long career in sales and marketing and set out to create a direct-to-consumer haircare brand of pared-back basics made from simple, effective ingredients that wouldn’t wreak havoc on curls and that were dermatologist tested.
After spending over a year in product development and going through multiple iterations, Saidi landed on a three-step system that launched in 2017. There’s her non-stripping, sulfate-free shampoo; colour-safe and silicone-free detangling conditioner and a curl-enhancing, all-in-one styling product available in customized formulas for wavy, curly and kinky-coily patterns. “The all-in-one styler came out of my own frustrations of needing a leave-in conditioner, a styling gel and then a serum of some sort to break the crunch and cast from the gel,” she shares. “I just thought, ‘Why am I pilling three to four different products in my hair?’”
Since it’s debut, LUS Brands has gone on to launch an express deep conditioner that repairs in 15 minutes and under, a multitasking hair, skin and nail elixir oil made from a blend of seven oils and vitamin E; as well as an aloe vera and provitamin B5-enriched hair perfume featuring the brand’s obsessed-about scent. “Hair perfume is hot in the straight-hair category, and I was just like, ‘Why isn’t there one that’s free from phthalates and alcohol and infused with ingredients that are actually good for curls?’” says Saidi, who made Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 list this year. What’s more: The brand is releasing a fragrance-free version of its signature three-step system this Boxing Day for those who prefer that unscented life.
As for the meaning behind LUS? It’s an acronym that stands for “love ur self” — a collective reminder to stop fighting and start embracing. “The number one thing that unites all curls — whether you’re type 2, 3 or 4 — is that, for the majority of us, we’ve all spent time rejecting and trying to change something that naturally grows out of our head. We’re united in that struggle,” expresses Saidi. “LUS is about empowering people, starting with their hair.”