For Shannah Bronfman, tea is so much more than just a popular beverage. Believe it or not, but that soothing drink that we all know and love is actually the superstar ingredient at the heart of her haircare line, Silk&Tea.
Born out of Bronfman’s own hair and scalp struggles, the first-of-its-kind tea-based hair brand is focused on bringing its holistic haircare approach to the masses — starting with its range of herbal hair tea rinses. Much like a relaxing cup of tea, each of the line’s hair rinses are packed with nutrient-rich ingredients that help your hair and scalp to feel restored, refreshed, and reset.
Ahead, The Tease spoke to Bronfman to hear all about her journey into haircare, the amazing benefits of tea for hair, and why tea rinses were the perfect first product for Silk&Tea’s launch.
The Tease: There’s really nothing like Silk&Tea on the market. How did you come up with the idea to create a tea-based haircare line?
Shannah Bronfman: I was not a hair girl at all. I actually just have really easy hair. I was never someone who struggled with my actual hair texture or anything like that. It was more so with my scalp. I had really, really bad scalp problems and you wouldn’t think that as someone who has pretty easy hair to manage. I had breakouts on my scalp. I had very oily hair to the point where it wouldn’t even be 24 hours and I had to wash my hair. And, we all know that washing your hair can strip the natural oils. So, I think I tried every single DIY product there was on the market. I put mayonnaise in my hair. I’ve put avocado in my hair. I’ve done apple cider vinegar rinses. I did all of that and nothing worked.
So, I took matters into my own hands. I think it was back in January when it was still the middle of the pandemic and everyone was still at home trying to do skincare and self-care routine that I was experimenting with my oily hair. I came across this article and it recommended putting tea in your hair. I was like, “Okay, I haven’t tried this one before, so maybe it can provide some promising results.” And so, I just started getting into it. I was reading about all these different benefits of different herbs and you know, obviously there are botanicals for skin, but no one ever really thought of putting tea in their hair even though it has the same ingredients. So, I started experimenting with that—actually, I was just doing really basic teas. I was doing calendula tea (which is in our blends as one of the ingredients). I was doing green tea and just a bunch of different ones. And, I was actually seeing a lot of improvements. I was washing my hair less and my scalp breakouts were clearing up. So, I just was like, “Okay, tea and hair — this is interesting. Let’s do this!”
Essentially, I started doing it on a routine. I couldn’t really find anything that was sort of offered in a really convenient, easy-to-use, beautiful package. Everything was kind of in a jar or not even blended—it was just like all the herbs mixed in together. It just wasn’t something that I felt like was a beauty product. It was just like another thing in my kitchen. And, I really wanted it to be something that was looked at as something that could be normalized in the haircare routine. So, I was like, “What if there was like this system where you could steep it and it came with the bottle and all that kind of stuff?” And, I started doing it. I started working on the concept and coming up with the different ingredients and that’s really when I started hiring and taking on some holistic practitioners. It took me several months to come up with the sizing and ingredients but we opened our website back in September. And, it’s really been sort of a soft launch. We’re still collecting feedback and I’ve been really working hard on getting people to try it out. It’s been really nice to see that people have expressed interest and are willing to really listen to you when you’re offering something that is innovating in a space that hasn’t really had any sort of innovation in the last while.
Before breaking into haircare as a founder, what were you doing professionally?
Bronfman: I still don’t really even see myself as an entrepreneur yet. But, I was really more into graphic design and marketing—that was my background. I was always a very creative person, so I was really good at doing graphics, photoshop, and all that kind of stuff. I was sort of in the beauty space. I was doing trade show event marketing and then I was also doing some business development overseas for another line of personal care and cosmetic products. And, then when I was abroad, I moved back home because it was mid-pandemic. You know, a lot was going on. So, I just knew that I wanted to do something really good for my mental health during the pandemic. I was also no longer really happy with the direction of where my career was going. I was just like, “I’ll see where this goes and take a chance.” I’ve been doing it now for the last 8 or 9 months.
For those who don’t know, what are the properties of tea that make it so beneficial to the hair?
Bronfman: It’s really just an incredible thing because if you think about it, you want your hair and your skin to really absorb all of the nutrients in whatever you are using. The whole point is really to get everything as deep into the skin or hair follicle as much as possible. So, when you’re steeping these freshly blended ingredients into water — water has like the smallest possible particles, so it will go literally right into your skin. If you think about steeping herbs into water and putting it right into your hair, that’s going to absorb the quickest as opposed to oils. And, you know oils—they are so good for your skin. They do have so many amazing benefits. I’ll never be like stop using oils because I think everything should work together. Just because you’re adding tea into your hair doesn’t mean that you can add and use other products that you absolutely love.
So, with our blends, we have at least 11 ingredients in each blend—you know, meringue, amala, rose hips, etc. And, there are so many vitamins and minerals in all of them. For example, the detox blend has oat straw which helps bring oxygen into the hair follicles. It has rose hips and juniper berry — both of which have a lot of Vitamin C and antiseptic properties. For dandruff and detoxifying, the whole point is that you really want to keep your scalp free of harvesting bacteria which is what usually contributes to dandruff. So, anytime there is bacteria sitting on your scalp, Vitamin C is what’s going to keep the dandruff from growing.
For the hydrate blend, it definitely has more restorative properties. I think I have a few articles on our website that talk about how dandruff and dryness are very different just in terms of the flake size and the color. For dryness, if you have small little white flakes that’s pretty different from what you would experience with dandruff. So, the hydrate blend just really helps restore the moisture and lots of incredible benefits have come from that one as well for people with curly hair. They’ve been finding that their curls are a little bit more defined. I can’t speak to that unfortunately, but the ingredients for the blend are quite extensive so on the website I do have a full list of the ingredients and it explains really what they’re specific benefits are and what you’ll really find in terms of the results for using the blends.
Walk me through what the product development process has been like for Silk&Tea. How do you source the teas and ultimately land on the different tea blends for your products?
Bronfman: It’s so funny because the options really are endless in terms of what herbs and tea are out there. I just have ideas exploding of what I am going to come up with in the new year. With our two blends specifically, I did find that they were the two most common. I use the one for detox but, I also use the hydrate one a lot. I can switch between the two and I find that both work really work for me.
But, in terms of product development, I actually sometimes look at the ingredients first. If I see different herbs out there and what kind of benefits they have, I create a list of what they can possibly help with and then I combine that with just common hair and scalp concerns. And, that’s really what I did with the first two blends. And in the future, now I am really looking at what people have said that they are looking for based on the products I already have.
Most haircare brands tend to launch with a shampoo or a conditioner. Why did you decide to launch with your hair rinses as your first product?
Bronfman: That’s a good question. You know, I always saw myself doing something a little bit different than what was currently being offered and what I really saw was taking a holistic approach to haircare. You want to kind of approach haircare with less is more. So, I was always looking for different ways to stop washing my hair as often. I was doing the whole thing of trying to train my hair to not be washed as often. I often had so much dry shampoo in my hair. It was crazy! But, I just knew my issue and I knew that I didn’t want to use shampoo that much. I also didn’t want to use dry shampoo that much. I wanted better solutions with less. And, I knew that I wanted to stand out in terms of the uniqueness of the brand. I really wanted this different sort of add-on to your haircare routine to be the star of the show. Not saying that we won’t do those kinds of products in the future, but if you can sort of imagine what Frank Body did — they were the first to do coffee scrubs for skin. So, I’d really like to be the one to do that with tea for hair.
How has your experience been launching a haircare line during the pandemic?
Bronfman: It’s been really interesting because I think the DIY industry has become so relevant to our lives and just the beauty industry overall has really had to shift everything. You know, everyone is realizing how important e-commerce is now, especially having this aspect of the product being able to be made at home and involving the customer in the experience and just obviously, there being an increasing demand for all-natural ingredients. With Silk & Tea, it’s kind of like the perfect combination because you’re making it at home and you have to be at home.
The craziest thing is that people in the pandemic really are losing their hair just due to stress and anxiety. It’s been like a hair loss pandemic. It’s been really nice to see that some people have seen a significant change in their hair fall, especially just because we have a lot of ingredients that help block the DHT hormone that contributes to hair loss and hair fall.
How do you hope Silk&Tea changes the way that people approach haircare?
Bronfman: I think that I would really like to see holistic ingredients being welcomed into the hair space and have people see that holistic ingredients and plant-derived products don’t have to be this “woo-woo” sort of thing that comes from a random health food store. It doesn’t have to be looked at that way. We can normalize holistic ingredients. And, I really did specifically choose and design the packaging the way it is now with unconventional sort of holistic colors. You know, pink is not a color that you really see on a lot of all-natural products. So, I really want Silk & Tea to be treated as any other beauty product out there — something that you might be able to see in a Sephora or in a drugstore.
What are your hopes for the future of Silk&Tea?
Bronfman: So, I definitely think that we will address more scalp and hair struggles. I also have plans for hair color which will be kind of interesting, especially if you are blonde. And, my goal really is to make tea something that’s normalized in the haircare routine — just like how coffee scrubs are now really normalized for skin. No one once thought that coffee would be a good exfoliator. No one knows what tea does for your hair and I’m really looking to create the narrative that you can use these holistic ingredients. Tea has so many incredible and very effective benefits. And, just like how shampoos and serums transform your hair, so can tea.