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Hair guru extraordinaire, Van Thomas has spent close to four decades perfecting his craft and educating some of the most celebrated stylists across the globe about healthy hair. In 2010, Thomas was faced with the loss of his vibrant daughter Christine and vowed to fulfill his promise to her—to create his own line of hair products. The Source spoke with the founder and CEO of Christine by Van Thomas Concepts and discussed what every women should (and should not) do to their hair.

Please tell us when you first fell in love with hair care?

My sister use to take me to a salon when I was a kid when she would get her hair done. I use to sit there and watch the stylist work it. I just thought it was great. I thought that’s something I want to do. Unfortunately at the height of the Vietnam War, I joined the military and stayed there for nine years, so I got a little bit of a late start.


If you don’t mind can you share how your promise to your daughter Christine turned into a booming business?

Well you know my whole career, Christine kept saying, “Why don’t you make your own products? You would make such good products.” I kept just putting it off and when she passed her husband, who was my business partner, said, ‘You know why don’t we do it?’ So I thought, this stuff has been in my head for 40 years and I always knew what I wanted to put in the product, so I went to a laboratory I was very familiar with and I told them it’s very important to me with any hair care line, that something ties that line together. I wanted them to make me a complex, which we call the Life Complex. It is in every single product that we make and I intend for it to be in every single product we make in the future.

What exactly did you end up creating?

It’s a complex made up of keratin protein, silk protein, and jojoba oil. The reason I chose those three is because your hair is made up of 95% of keratin. Every single day if you run your fingers through your hair, if you walk outside, you’re losing keratin. So it’s very important to me that keratin is put back in. Silk, although it’s known for being a strength protein, what most people don’t realize is that silk protein holds ten-thousand times its weight in moisture. Dry hair, damaged hair, it hangs onto moisture. Even though argan oil is getting a lot of play, jojoba oil is still the most similar oil to your scalps natural oil. So I chose that to be in the complex as well. Not to take away from argan oil, it does a nice job, but what we are trying to do is use the jojoba oil in there primarily for the scalp where other places are putting it in there for the hair. It helps remove dried oil from the scalp, not that it’s a dandruff shampoo that helps remove the flakes and stuff like that and I really feel that healthy hair can only grow from a healthy scalp. So I want to make sure that we get the scalp involved in this whole process.

What do you see women doing to their own hair that causes the most damage?

Well one thing that I wish that the consumer would take heed to is, if you are going to color your hair, if you are going to perm your hair…go to a hairstylist. Home products, that’s where I think I’ve seen a majority of the damage. It could be sometimes that they are trying to bleach their hair at home or doing a color that turns out green instead of the color it was supposed to be and they are trying to fix it by using other chemicals on top of those chemicals and they just dry their hair. Unfortunately I feel bad about saying this, but I’ve seen hairdressers do some pretty bad chemical work too, that really damaged the hair. A lot of it is people trying to do stuff themselves. Yes, it doesn’t only go for chemicals. I mean people come in saying, ‘my daughter just cut her own bangs, can you fix them? They are really way too short’, if I can put my foot on their face and pull real hard to make them longer, other than that no there isn’t a damn thing I can do.

What are some tricks women can use to give their hair a quick fix?

There’s two things in particular that I thought every woman in the world does and now I find that most of them don’t. One of them is, with any product that you’re using, after you shampoo your hair you’ve got to squeeze all of the moisture out of your hair. Squeeze or blot it before you apply the conditioner. Otherwise the proteins in the conditioner have no where to go. Your hair is full of water. And if you use your fingers to distribute the product through your hair, you’ll cover approximately 40% – 45% of your hair. If you use a little bit less product and a wide tooth comb and comb it from end to end, you’ll cover 90% of your hair. And that’s very important to get maximum use out of the product and the benefits as well. The other thing is, I’ve worked with reconstructors and I’ve worked with conditioners and that’s why I was so into making a reconstructive conditioner that had the qualities of both. But if somebody has a girl, a Chinese girl, who bleached her hair out to almost white and her hair was like straw, what you do in a case like that is you can use our reconstructive conditioner, leave it on for 5 minutes, rinse it, blot it, do it again in up to 5 minutes, up to 3 times. That will be the maximum reconstruction you can get in one sitting.

What do you want women to remember about keeping their hair healthy?

Wash, reconstruct and protect. I don’t want to take away from our protective glaze because our tag line is “Wash, Reconstruct and Protect” and that’s my logical thing again. If you’re going to wash it and reconstruct it now you’ve got to protect it. So our glaze has very little holding power. It adds shine, it adds body, it protects from UV rays, it protects from blow dryers, curling irons, all the damage that we do to our hair every single day. So that glaze is a very important product. All three of those things. “Wash, Reconstruct, Protect.”

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-Courtney Brown (@CourtneyBrown)