For nearly two years, the world has been left reeling from a global pandemic that has completely upended the ways in which we live our lives. But, unbeknownst to some, there’s actually already been another crisis at hand that despite being less publicized, is frankly just as troubling—the mental health crisis.
Before Covid-19, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness and suicide was the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The pandemic—which has left many feeling depressed, anxious, or hopeless—has only worsened the already pressing problem.
Beauty industry veteran April Peck is no stranger to some of the mental health issues facing people today. After tragically losing her sister to suicide, she has since made it her mission to advocate for suicide prevention, to ensure that others don’t suffer her sister’s same fate. In fact, it’s why she launched Save Me From, her damage-specific haircare line that not only saves hair, but saves lives, by donating to charity organizations that are working to end suicide.
With September marking Sucide Prevention Month, The Tease spoke to Peck about her brand’s commitment to suicide prevention and the connection between mental health and haircare.
The Tease: Before launching Save Me From, you previously co-founded a skincare brand called HydroPeptide. Can you tell us about that and how you eventually made the journey from skincare to haircare?
April Peck: I have always had a passion to understand and better the needs of women. After founding my skincare line, I began to look at the lack of options women had for their hair, and I noticed that there wasn’t a target problem and solution to offer targeted replenishment, repair and defense like I had created in my skincare line. Most hair care products were temporarily solving hair concerns, coating the cuticle with silicons and empty fillers that left the hair still dry, brittle and damaged from within. With years of experience and expertise from creating my skincare brand, I set out to create the first ever damage-specific hair care designed for both the scalp and hair that is clean, clinical, and is targeted to precisely solve hair concerns from the most common sources of hair damage.
What was the driving force that inspired you to create Save Me From?
Peck: I know firsthand how a great hair day can empower. While researching and developing Save Me From, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and was faced with the difficult decision to continue forward with my hair care brand, knowing I’d lose all of my hair in the coming weeks. Now that I am cancer free, I cannot deny how losing my hair was like losing a part of my identity and femininity, which placed even more of an importance on creating hair care products that were clean, clinically and performance driven that solved the real-world beauty problems women face.
How did you come up with the name Save Me From and what does it represent?
Peck: In 2013, I lost my youngest sister to suicide and realized there were cries for help. I was determined to create a brand that was rooted to save others from suffering the same fate and created Save Me From as a platform to advocate for suicide prevention, mental health, and personal empowerment. Save Me From has a two-fold meaning: it represents our mission to save women from their beauty concerns, and since we’re the first damage-specific hair care brand, we’re saving women’s hair based upon their lifestyle. Are you a Sun and Sweat girl or are you a Thermal girl? I conceptualized a brand that would “save” consumers’ hair from six common sources of hair damage from chemicals, aging, heat, buildup, pollution, UV, and sweat. Save Me From also represents our important mission to save lives by spreading suicide awareness and prevention tips.
After coming up with the idea for Save Me From, where did you really start in terms of actually making it a reality?
Peck: When I sold my skincare brand in 2016, I set out to make a big impact to not only help solve women’s hair problems but create hair products designed for the scalp and hair that are rooted with consumers’ wellness in mind. After taking cosmetic formulation courses and learning about hair biology, structure and function, I identified the features that make up healthy hair. As I had done in skincare, I believe to truly solve a problem you must address the whole system. I then looked at the world’s most beautiful hair and their beauty rituals. That’s how I discovered fenugreek. I traveled to Jodhpur, India, known as the Blue City, to source organic fenugreek from local farms.
With Save Me From’s product formulations, you draw a lot of inspiration from Ayurvedic principles. What sparked this interest?
Peck: I knew that creating the first-damage specific hair care, I needed to go beyond what is available in traditional hair care. My journey to discover the world’s most beautiful hair took me to India, where I learned about the ancient beauty secrets behind the most sought-after qualities of Indian hair. Indian women possess some of the healthiest hair in the world with amazing shine, moisture, thickness, and strength. At a young age, these women are taught an intensive ritual involving an Ayurvedic herb recognized for its medicinal properties, fenugreek, which contains rich bioactive compounds that restore strength, shine, hydration, and help nourish the scalp. Inspired by the wholeness and holistic principles of Ayurveda, I wanted to create formulas that centered around nourishing the scalp, supplementing the hair with specific actives to restore the balance within the whole hair, from tip to root, so no part of the hair was left comprised or uncared for.
The hair world is saturated with products. How do you see Save Me From fitting into the market?
Peck: Save Me From is the first ever hair care line that take a damage-specific approach. Until Save Me From, other hair care brands only have one or two products that were specifically a “damage-repair” product. These products also are designed to primarily coat the hair with silicons and empty fillers that leave out the scalp and top section of the hair. In my research, I knew that hair is deprived of nutrients differently based upon the source of damage it’s exposed to, and damage can happen anywhere along the hair shaft and scalp. By not nourishing the scalp, this newly emerging hair becomes weak and more susceptible to further damage from the start. With our damage-specific scalp and hair care treatments, this is a completely new way of treating the scalp and protecting the hair against damage.
Save Me From is very much focused on offering damage-specific haircare. What about serving those suffering from hair damage appeals to you?
Peck: With my skin care brand, I found many solutions to all kinds of different skin problems from acne to aging. Everyone and their skin is unique, meaning we all face our own struggles and issues when it comes to taking care of our skin and presenting our best outward appearance. After creating a leading skincare brand, I took my knowledge about skin health and wanted to create a hair care line that was nourishing to the scalp, but also designed to supplement the hair. Not only does Save Me From focus on the health of the hair, it’s also a versatile product that helps beautify the hair continuously with every use. There is a broad range of hair problems and issues we may recognize, but there wasn’t a product that helped solve these concerns that consumers were dealing with. I pinpointed the most common sources and stressors of hair damage to help combat damage and treatment based on the unique forms of damage from chemicals, aging, heat, buildup, pollution, sun, and sweat. I also created formulations that are completely versatile. Everyone’s hair type, texture, and preferences are unique but with Save Me From, you can find a product and an application that’s perfect for you to achieve healthy hair, no matter your desired look!
As a mission-driven brand, Save Me From proudly advocates for suicide prevention. Why is this topic in particular so close to your heart?
Peck: After losing my youngest sister to suicide in 2013, I was determined to help find a way to save others from her same fate. I consulted experts in social work and became a trained instructor on suicide prevention myself in a platform called QPR. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer and it’s an emergency response for a suicade crisis. I learned the signs and later recognized that my sister had cries for help, I just didn’t know then what they were and even if I did, I wouldn’t have known how to respond. I learned that anyone could offer the first line of defense in a suicide crisis but there had to be more education around it. It was then that I developed the foundations of Save Me From where I could continue my passion for creating hair products that are a powerful source of self-expression and empowerment while furthering my mission to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.
Save Me From dedicates 10 percent of its net income to charitable organizations working to end suicide. Why was it so important to you to add this charitable component to the brand, and to do so from its launch?
Peck: My brand was created to solve real beauty problems, while empowering people and positively impact their lives. Since I lost my sister to suicide, I made Save Me From as my platform to advocate suicide prevention and to help save people in real crisis, giving those affected by suicide a supportive community that educates and advocates to take actiona against this preventable leading cause of death. Suicide is currently the third leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 24, with the highest overall rates of suicide in adults 40 to 59. In our support to donate 10 percent of our net income to foundations like the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, we are helpign to fund research to improve interventions, train clinician in suicide prevention and advocate for policty that will save lives.
Increasingly, we are seeing an intersection between the hair industry and mental health. What do you see as the connection between mental health and haircare?
Peck: Our hair’s so much more than our outward impression we show the world. Our hair is not just hair, it can show people who you are, your age, and what you’re going through. Hair has the power to impact our lives, positively or negatively, just like our mental health. Many mental health factors can affect our hair, and studies have shown that stress, emotional, or physical, can affect something so small as the hair follicles on our head, to our overall health. Depression, anxiety, and unhealthy eating behaviors can cause hair to weaken, thin, and fall out suddenly. Not only does taking time for oneself help us distress, practicing self-care boosts our confidence and esteem, helping us show up as our best self not only on the outside, but the inside as well.
Where do you see the future of Save Me From headed?
Peck: Save Me From is still a fresh and new brand, working towards a worthy cause for raising awareness of mental health and suicide prevention. In addition to being an at home hair treatment, Save Me From is also offered in salons and spas for clients to experience a relaxing scalp and hair treatment service, witnessing a whole hair health transformation, from tip to root! With a mission to end suicide, we believe suicide can be prevented by becoming common knowledge. Rarely is mental health discussed and what the signs of a mental health crisis looks like. Our goal is to bring knowledge of what the signs of potential suicide looks like by educating our partnering salons and salons on the mergency crisis platform called QPR.The training to question, persuade, and refer gives the three essential steps that are easy for our partners to leave and remember to how to speak to and help someone who may be in crisis and considering suicide.