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Inside The Conscia Lab

Co-Founder Nicole Brown
On Making Hair Stones

Hint: It’s a lot like baking.

When running her former salon in San Francisco, CONSCIA co-founder Nicole Brown was on a constant quest for products that were both eco-friendly and high performance. She finally took matters into her own hands.

Nicole signed up for an online formulation course and set out to create her own zero-waste shampoos and conditioners that met her terms — anhydrous, all-natural and salon-grade, with plastic-free packaging, of course. She started by addressing the most common issues she saw as a hair stylist — damage (whether chemical or environmental), volume and moisture — to develop Conscia’s first three formulas: Hydrate, Heal and Fortify.

Also, none of the product lines on the market focused on scalp, which is key to total head wellness, so figuring out how to balance scalp and strands took a lot of experimentation. CONSCIA products are formulated with a lot of the same naturally derived vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. There are approximately 50 clean ingredients per stone—ranging from botanical powders and clays to butters and oils—and using the latest green chemistry ingredients ensures their efficacy. Below, Nicole walks us through the process step by step.

Conscia Life: Inside The Conscia Lab

Step 1

Rather than just cleansing, we’re trying to nourish hair and scalp as well. For example, we opted for a natural, olive oil-based alternative to silicones in our formulas to create shine and provide a protective layer to the hair. Rice powder, oat flour and plants extracts replace many surfactants. The stones are essentially concentrates — no added fillers, dyes or fragrances.

The color and scent of each formula comes from the extracts and essential oils used in that formula. Spirulina and moringa give Heal its green tint, while rosehip and pomegranate give Hydrate its rosy color.

Step 2

Maintaining the right consistency while mixing, heating and molding is crucial to getting the stones formed, and it took a while to nail it. A Portland chef friend helped me figure out in what order to add the ingredients—basically, following the techniques of baking. We thought of it like truffles or cookies.

As we grew production, we increased the scale of our machinery in our Portland garage-turned-lab. Now we have an industrial kitchen, a stove, a floor-size mixer, rows of powders in glass jars on shelves, cooling trays on baking racks, beakers, scales, etc. Our small team is all hands on deck, from making to packaging to shipping.

Step 3 and 4

For the shampoos, we blend the powder, add the heated oils and butters, and mix it all together. We then take out the batter, roll it into individual balls using a scale to measure consistently, and put the balls into custom mold trays that are pressed to form the shape of our stones.

Once the shampoos were perfected, I moved onto conditioners. The process is different for this, as we hot pour the mixture directly into silicone molds. There are no surfactants in these formulas, just conditioning agents—butters, oils and extracts, and green chemistry ingredients. The molds rest for a day, then we pop them out and clean them up.

Step 5

The last step with both shampoos and conditioners is hand-carving the stones to give them their smooth rounded shape. I use pottery carving tools to scrape away any excess material and to perfect the form. Each stone is handled individually, like a potter does with ceramics. Super satisfying! At this point, they are ready to be packaged up.

“The future of hair depends on us thinking outside the plastic bottle.” — Nicole Brown,
Conscia Co-Founder


Conscia Life reflects our desire to build a conscious lifestyle that extends beyond our hair care brand. It’s where we tell stories that inspire, educate and highlight issues, offering a richer connection between self care and the natural world, between wellness and social culture, and between the today and tomorrow we all share.