When I finished my freshman in college, I arrived home to New York City for the summer with a bouquet of fun new interests including an appreciation for big-box pizza chains, a nightly craving for something called a Bagel Bomb (a toasted plain bagel stuffed with egg, cheese and your choice of breakfast meat, typically consumed in the student union around midnight) and a particularly overexcited palette for Molson Canadian, usually chugged six at a time before finding oneself with a plastic cup of cheap vodka and cranberry juice in the basement of a fraternity house. It goes without stating, then, I also arrived home with too-tight jeans and a pasty, bloated pallor indicative of our nation’s higher education system.
I knew I wanted to drop a few pounds—truly just a few—but at 19, I didn’t know how to go about it. My mom—always a sucker for buzzy new diet books—had a copy of Somersize, a book written by former “Three’s Company” star, Thighmaster queen, and high priestess of infomercials, Suzanne Somers, and after thumbing through it, I decided it sounded pretty reasonable—I could live without Papa John’s cheesy breadsticks for a few months, right? I’ll save the details for another time, but I lost 15 pounds that summer following Somers’ principles of food combining
. I still
gloat at remember my first night back at school sophomore year when my freshman-year boyfriend—who dumped me over summer break—dropped by to say hello, and clearly noticed my Somersized body poured into my tight black jeans.
Anyway, after that, I’d always considered Somers a bit of a guru—it’s not every day a person can transition from a bastion of ’70s camp to a real advocate for women’s health (she later went on to crusade for aging with hormone therapy, and also taught me the phrase muffins are cakes for one, which I still use every chance I get.) So when my colleague Rachel Krause casually mentioned Somers had a new hair product meant to replicate the effects—albeit temporarily—of chemical straighteners, I insisted she hand it over.
I learned that Somers worked with hairstylist Mauricio Ribeiro to launch True Brazilian, a fully organic, nontoxic serum made with ingredients—chief among them intensely smoothing cupuacu from the Brazilian rain forest, strengthening meadowfoam seed oil, and moisturizing and detangling Absynnian seed oil, which silken and seal the hair cuticle and repair damaged ends.
You’re supposed to wash hair as normal, apply the serum to wet hair, and heat-style with her proprietary oscillating flat iron to lock in the formula, but—in the interest of full disclosure—we did not receive, so I relied on my own hot tools.
After shampooing with Redken’s Frizz Dismiss shampoo and conditioner, I lightly towel dried, and I applied four pumps of the serum (substantial but not too gloopy!) to my thick, frizzy boob-length hair that no longer receives its beloved in-salon keratin treatments because its owner is terrified of cancer-causing reports. I combed it through and kept an eye on the way my hair air-dried—still curly and fairly coarse—ruling out the hope that Somers’s product might actually be a valid replacement for said keratins.
But! I quickly learned that this stuff needs heat to work its magic—each section of hair usually takes a good two minutes for me to straighten and dry completely, and the serum cut that down immensely–we’re talking about 30 seconds, with about two to three passes with my boar-bristle round brush. Overall, it took me less than 15 minutes to dry my whole head, as opposed to my normal 25 to 30. I also couldn’t get over the shine—like, glossy reflective shine, even after I used my Amika waving iron to add texture.
I’m also pleased to report that after using True Brazilian, my hair held up to New York’s oppressive humidity—no extra frizzing, no weird puffiness, no flyaways. In fact, the day after I tried it, I met up with my sister, who said, verbatim, “How does your hair look like that in this weather??” Since then, I’m on my third use, and the results are the same.
I’m psyched I discovered it—at almost $45, it’s not cheap, but I’ll probably purchase it again if my hair continues to embrace it the way it has. Still, it’s absolutely not a replacement for in-salon defrizzing treatments. Rather, it’s a solid product to use between washes for smoother hair, end of story. And while I know there are a million others like it, I appreciate the fact that it’s free of silicones (which is why my hair wasn’t weighed down and retained its piecey texture after using hot tools) and that it’s certified organic.
Because I was surprised at how effective the serum was, I reached out to Somers for a few answers on hair, health, and beauty ,which you can read below.
Why did you decide to launch a hair product?
I’m not unique in the fact that when my hair looks good, I look good. I mean, who doesn’t rely on having good hair days to feel their most confident? However, I don’t have a live-in hair stylist and I’m not one of those people who goes to a blowout bar or salon a couple times a week to have my hair done. And I dread doing it myself! Then I met Mauricio Ribeiro, a Brazilian hair and beauty expert, and he introduced me to his True Brazilian system for creating smooth, sexy, frizz-free hair every time you style it, and it’s really been a lifesaver for me. It takes a fraction of the time to style my hair. All I do is add the True Brazilian Activating Serum to towel-dried hair, then dry it quickly. Then I use the True Brazilian Oscillating Flat Iron and rather than damage the hair, the heat activation bonds the botanical nutrients in the serum to the hair shaft, making my hair healthier, stronger, shinier, and so smooth! I add a touch of True Brazilian Finishing Gloss for high shine and luster and I’m done.
How long did it take to develop?
The first step came from Mauricio in Brazil. He was using chemical straightening products in his salon on clients. They loved the results of straight, sexy hair with no fuss, but Mauricio knew there must be a way to get that amazing hair without the expensive salon visit and without the toxic chemicals. He developed the first round of True Brazilian. After we met in California, we realized we were a great fit, but in order for the products to fit with my guidelines, they would have to be organic and Certified ToxicFree, so we worked together for another year to create the current formula, and you not only get incredible results, but you can feel great about the fact that there are no chemicals in these products. They make your hair beautiful by restoring its health. My hair is actually finally growing because the ends no longer break off.
Are you one of us who’ve always been a slave to their hair?
I really was! And when I did it myself, I just wasn’t very good at it. Now it takes me half the time, and it looks twice as good! You know, health is beautiful, and I find that True Brazilian has made my hair so healthy and strong that it has life back. It shines, it bounces, and I’ve haven’t seen that probably since my 20s. And it’s easy now! With True Brazilian, I can get salon results, with no chemicals, right at home.
I know you’re highly committed to healthy living—what’s a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
For breakfast, I start with an organic green smoothie—kale, spinach, apples, banana, lemon, ginger. Then I might have some full-fat Greek yogurt with organic berries. For lunch, it’s typically a salad from my organic vegetable garden. Lettuces, cucumber, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes—whatever’s fresh and in season, and then I’ll add some crispy fried shallots, goat cheese, and maybe a grilled chicken breast. For dinner, we love roasted organic chicken with the natural pan drippings or a grass-fed steak, or New Zealand organic lamb chops—some amazing organic protein. Then I might add baby potatoes with butter and sour cream (yes, full real fats are a healthy part of my diet!), and a ton of fresh vegetables, like steamed asparagus or sautéed zucchini, or roasted cauliflower with garlic butter.
What are your five all-time favorite beauty products?
1. Shu Uemura Cover Crayon. OMG, it’s absolutely the perfect color for my skin. And I’m an Irish woman with freckles, and it covers everything!
2. Epsom salts. I take a bath every night with Epsom salts. The magnesium really calms you down and detoxes the body to prepare for a good night of sleep.
3. SUZANNE Organics Nourishing Body Lotion in Wild Orange Vanilla. So nurturing to the skin, and the natural scent is like a Creamsicle from my childhood. I love it!
4. Raw, organic coconut oil. I use it for everything! I eat four spoonfuls a day for detoxification, and I use it on dry skin, hair, feet, and nails. It’s true—an all-purpose beauty lifesaver.
5. SUZANNE Organics Ageless Serum. I have an incredible line of organic skin-care and beauty products that have replaced every product I have ever had in my top five. This serum came about when I asked my formulator if she could make me an organic antiaging cream that was as good as a very expensive cream made with sea algae. She completely outdid the benefits of that cream! This antiaging serum is loaded with algae and African birch to dramatically reduce the appearance of wrinkles and to firm and restore elasticity. I’ve seen remarkable results, and it’s one of my best-selling products.
Any unlikely beauty or health tips you’ve picked up over the years that you swear by?
Sex! It makes you the most vital, beautiful, healthy, and happy.
Do you exercise? What type do you prefer?
Does sex count? Yes, I exercise daily—mostly yoga and lots of walking and hiking with my husband.
I lost almost 15 pounds in college on Somersize and still steal your phrase that muffins are nothing but “cakes for one.” Do you still stand by the principles of food combining?
The principles of Somersize are still right on point. I continue to eat organic protein, healthy fats, and low-starch vegetables as the main part of my diet. I don’t eat many carbs or grain because they just don’t agree with my digestive system. So to eliminate bloating, I cut out most all carbs. But if you are going to include them; yes, keep them whole grain and eat with vegetables, or if you combine with protein and fats, just have about 1/2 cup. Amazing that 20 years after the debut of Somersize, the principles of the program have finally hit mainstream and everyone now understands it’s sugar and refined carbs that make you fat and raise your cholesterol. When I first came out with the program, I was called a loon and a quack. Eat your organic protein, healthy fats, and tons of vegetables!