Ammonia-free permanent hair color featuring plant-based active ingredientsHealthy, natural hair coloring products are at the root of the Naturtint story. In Europe, Naturtint was launched in the late 1990s by Laboratorios Phergal of Madrid, ranked as one of the top cosmetics labs in Spain. Naturtint is distinguished from other hair coloring products as the first permanent hair color free of ammonia and featuring plant-based active ingredients.In the United States, entrepreneurial businesswoman Brenda Boice established International Trade Routes in 1999 and searched the world to find product lines that met her company's core values of bringing customers the highest-quality natural hair coloring products available.Boice, who has earnest interests in alternative medicine and healthy living, had become well-versed in all aspects of the health product industry while working at Herb Pharm, a leading manufacturer of liquid herbal extracts in Oregon, before starting her own enterprise.She had looked at other internationally-made beauty products, but they lacked the integrity and high-quality standards she demanded – and then she discovered Phergal and Naturtint.The union between Naturtint and Boice was a natural."When I saw their green boxes, I said 'This is it. Naturtint will be perfect for the US market.' " Boice's vivid impression of Naturtint came in her first meeting in Connecticut with an international sales representative who was looking for the right importer/distributor to bring the new line beyond its Spanish borders.International Trade Routes became the first distributor – and remains the exclusive distributor – in the U.S. to carry the line that has become the leading brand of permanent hair color without ammonia, parabens, or resorcinol, used by millions of women worldwide.Highest Quality StandardsWhile other mass-marketed hair color products use private-label manufacturers to produce their products, Phergal is a privately owned, family-run business that operates its own R&D laboratories and manufacturing plants.Phergal applies the strictest GMP pharmaceutical standards to all its products. These international quality standards ensure the best quality ingredients as well as constant research and development of rigorous production methods."We can track every batch for quality," Boice says. "Our competition can't do that. They are outsourcing their manufacturing."Hair Coloring Without AmmoniaNaturtint's plant-based permanent hair coloring works by using a three-step process without ammonia, parabens, silicones, paraffin, mineral oils, heavy metals, artificial fragrances, SLS, or formaldehyde derivatives. The active plant-based ingredients and the pH of the colorant cream help to open the external cuticle layer of the hair naturally. Next, the natural color of the hair is removed, and micro-pigments penetrate the deepest layers of the hair with the new color. Finally, the cuticle returns to its original position, trapping the colorants inside the hair to ensure that the new color won't fade away."Many consumers associate the horrid smell of ammonia when they go to the salon as being necessary to get the results they want, so they endure it, even if they worried about the health effects of the chemicals on their scalp," Boice says. "Naturtint gives women salon-quality results, and it's healthier for the hair, body and environment."Unlike henna — which can be messy, harsh to work with and difficult to get through hair, particularly red shades — Naturtint is easy to apply and delivers long-lasting, vibrant color.Growth and ExpansionFrom its humble start as a home-based operation, Boice moved ITR's warehouse and offices into a rural Agway building. Having renovated and wired the space hands-on, Boice truly has grown the business from the ground up.Naturtint has garnered the number-one market share position within the health food segment with such leading retailers as Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, and Sprout's Farmers Market. Boice is now also promoting the product into the beauty/fashion markets.In October 2011, ITR transitioned into a new 24,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center, centrally located and positioned to ship anywhere in the country. The company also plans to continue to expand the Naturtint line.