Exquisite Practices, Hair Revelations: Week 2

An interview with hair healer Stefani Padilla!

I had the immense pleasure of speaking with Stefani Padilla of La Tierra Sagrada Hair a couple of weeks ago. Stefani is one of those rare people that has cultivated a beautiful connection to the earth and plants through her practice as a hair healer and maker of plant-based medicines. She is an inspiration when it comes to holding ourselves to a high standard of responsibility and sensitivity to the earth and its offerings. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I am awakened to the importance and beauty of the ritual in caring for your hair. Enjoy her words of wisdom, and head over to her website to take a look at the products she and her team make by hand in her California studio.

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Image by Nancy Neil

Tell us about the philosophy behind your products; what brought you to the natural and organic side of hair care?

I have been doing hair for over a decade. Alongside transforming hair, I have done a lot of work in the spiritual realm. In my 20’s I worked closely with many wise plant teachers — herbalists of the north and curanderos from the south. Thus, incorporating plant medicine heavily into my life.

After battling a series of auto immune disorders, one including a debilitating episode of chronic rheumatoid arthritis at age 28, I was put on heavy medications to help me to walk again. The side effects from these medications ended up destroying my system. One of the most intense side effects was losing my hair. So, I took the natural approach to healing, and went back to the plants.

It was in a ceremony where La Tierra Sagrada (The Sacred Earth) was conceived.

I created this natural line as a way to heal myself, and share the healing with anyone else who has suffered from hair loss due to disease, medication, stress, having a baby, etc. I launched the line 2 years ago, highlighting plant medicine, to share the wisdom, protection and healing benefits of these plants. The name of the line is in honor of The Sacred Earth. I used both Spanish and English as a means to bridge the medicine of the north and the south.

On your website you mention ritual as part of your mission statement, can you elaborate on the beauty of hair care-as-ritual? Why is it important?

The importance of a hair ritual all begins with your connection to yourself and your intention with your hair. Through many traditions hair is considered an extension of the self. From a yogic perspective, hair is a gift from nature that can help increase vitality, intuition and tranquility. Hair is considered to be our antennae. In Native American tradition, hair represents our strength, wisdom and power. A hair ritual is something that you can create on your own in your own time, but it is important to have the consciousness behind the action as it is as important in any act that you do throughout the day. A hair ritual can be tailored to what you feel is necessary for your hair. Ritual is the conscious connection of the self to an action.

Creating these types of practices on a consistent level is when you will see a transformation and quicker results! This is the power and faith of ritual. Create your ritual to reflect your inner divine!

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Image by Kacie Tomita

There are so many products out there for hair that’s been bleached and dyed. Is there ONE type of product you would suggest that works well to heal and protect hair?

YES! The La Tierra Sagrada Hair Treatment. This treatment is for EVERYONE. Especially those who bleach and dye. The chemicals will dry the hair out more than hair that is non-dyed, so it is important to reapply moisture, and this treatment does it!

For years I advised my clients to do regular coconut oil treatments at home. Now I encourage them all to use the Treatment I created, because it’s pretty much coconut oil on steroids!

The base of the Treatment is coconut oil, it also is packed with other powerful, nutrient rich, plant oils. Its potency can actually transform hair in one dose! The coconut oil is best for hydration, the babassu oil is used for shine, and the meadowfoam seed oil (I call the fountain of youth) is used to seal in moisture. I threw in a little vitamin E for good measure, AND its antioxidant power. This Treatment has the ability to heal your hair, not just put a temporary bandaid on the problem.

We know we shouldn’t use products with parabens and sulfates, but can you elaborate on why, or how, these ingredients are harmful?

Well, chemicals are chemicals. Our skin is our biggest organ, what we put on it absorbs into the body. Being conscious in our beauty routines and rituals could save our health in the long run, as well as make an impact on the health of the planet.

In that same vein: what is it about plant-based products that make them work so well?

Natural products are a must have for a higher vibrational experience with our beauty routines. It is important to be conscious of what we are using on a daily basis. Plants have energy, and they have the ability do the same thing that chemicals mimic. Plants are purer, cleaner and more healing for us, and the planet as well.

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Image by Kacie Tomita

Can you prescribe a couple of easy hair styling techniques for the lazy (like myself!) What can I do to my hair in a pinch to give it a little glam when I’m getting ready for a night out?

Salt spray, salt spray, salt spray! I’m all about the all natural, wash and wear hair. For those of us who live in cities and work most of the day and really don’t have the luxury to “get ready” any more, the salt spray will be your best friend. Right after work, between the office and dinner/drinks, spritz the salt spray in your hair. If you spray some at the root, it can help give a little lift, and the salt can absorb a bit of the oil too. Spray through the ends, and viola! You have instant texture!

I also like a simple braid with the texture of the salt spray, it gives that beachy texture to any simple braid, making it look messy and cute!

You mentioned you’ve been working on a very special new shampoo and conditioner. What can you tell us about them?

Yes, with so much excitement, I can happily say we created an AMAZING shampoo and conditioner! I have been working on creating a product that has the luxuriousness of a high end, salon product, but 100 percent plant based and free of sulphates, parabens, and silicones.

The 2 years of trial has really paid off, we now have a luxurious product that not only cleanses the hair without the fillers, but also conditions the hair by replenishing all of the moisture without weighing it down. We launched June 1 and are so overjoyed to get this out to share with the world!

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Image by Nancy Neil

If you have more ideas on the beauty and ritual of hair care, please share in the comments. I always love to hear about your experiences and ideas!

Lead image by Kacie Tomita

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6 years ago

What gorgeous packaging!!


6 years ago

– claims chemicals are bad for you
– encourages women to put salt (a chemical) in their hair

I get that Free People embraces a natural, earth-friendly, healthy lifestyle, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of science. They’re not mutually exclusive. And when it comes to what I put on my body, I want those items to be backed by rigorous testing and scientific research.

6 years ago

Wonderful post, brand, story, and info on importance of avoiding chemicals! Us humans have so much in our system from all the chemicals we are exposed to! Also to the comment above, Anna is totally right, salt is technically a chemical – I feel her concern is very well-intentioned but perhaps misplaced as I think in this post the author is referring to/appealing to customers wanting to avoid synthetic chemicals (ie. those altered in a lab/patented) whereas salt in this case, I’m guessing, is a ‘natural chemical’ ie. from the ocean and still fits within the natural/non-chemical route the author is espousing – something I think many people are waking up to! To each his/her own :) ! Thanks Free People! x S

6 years ago

Haha love the pictures. The women having a hair ritual and praying for stronger and softer hair. Joke aside though, I really liked this interview. Hope you are interviewing more hair professionals in the future.

6 years ago

Surely sea salt is better for your hair than the chemical laden stuff in the shops. I can’t understand Anna being mad at this fabulous post. Nobody is forcing you to buy her products. If you don’t want to use salt try rain water but now a days even the rain water contains chemicals. It’s really up to you what you want. I love this post

6 years ago

I love that design!

You can visit my blog at http://besthypoallergenicmakeup.com/

6 years ago

What about tips for crazy curly hair?? We need a little more help and some extra hold!

Jenna Robb
6 years ago

Hi Rachel, thanks for the suggestion! I’ll look into tips for very curly hair and post this month. Thank you for reading! xo Jenna