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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Amoriello’s: Come as Strangers, Eternal Friends

Apr 07, 2016 06:49PM ● By Ethan Stoetzer

There’s a sign on the wall at Amoriello’s Hair Designs. Though weathered by 18 years of sun and fluorescent lighting, hair spray and the echoes of customers that have since come and gone, its adage has not faded.

It reads, “Enter as strangers, leave as friends.”

For co-owners Pat and Sally Amoriello, the sign isn’t just a home decoration; it’s a way of life—a philosophy that has led them to become both the family and the business owners they are today.

At Amoriello’s, the customer experience is different than many “upscale salons”, says Pat Amoriello. Having been involved with the hair styling industry since the mid-1970s, both Amoriello and his wife came to the realization that the salons they had gained experience in lacked in building relationships with clients and staff and ownership. Clients entered as strangers, and left as such, with the exception of a new hairdo. At Amoriello’s, the virtue of caring is taken seriously, and to great length.

In addition to a more client-centered approach to hair styling, Amoriello offers a unique experience in that all products at the salon, from hair dye to hair spray, are organic.

In 2000, Sally Amoriello was diagnosed with breast cancer. Caught between the pursuit of passion and the diagnoses, the Amoriellos decided that in order to continue their careers they needed to adjust their environment. They decided to make the switch to organic hair products.

“When a client walks into a salon, it smells like ammonia,” Amoriello says. “Clients spend about an hour with the chemicals and leave. What often goes unnoticed is that [hair stylists] work with these chemicals for almost eight hours a day, five days a week.”

Also, several years before his wife’s diagnosis, Amoriello was diagnosed with an allergy to Paraphenylenediamine (PPD), an ingredient in permanent hair dye. Whenever he came into contact with traditional hair dye, he’d break out into an itching rash on his hands.

After extensive research, the Amoriellos finally discovered a trusted product they felt comfortable using on their clients.

“You’d be amazed,” Amoriello says. “All the products that say organic, aren’t really organic at all.”

Amoriello believes that there’s never a “100 percent organic” product. Hair products will need some level of chemical to interact with hair; some products have fewer chemicals than others.

The Amoriellos decided to become certified in a European line of organic hair products, made from natural oils from nuts and flowers. The entire staff was certified afterwards.

Traditional hair dye uses ammonia to expose the hair cuticle, which allows the color to be absorbed into the hair; a lot of the time, these colors are chemically made. The organic hair product doesn’t use ammonia at all.

Each client has a consultation with a hair stylist to decide on the color desired, and the dye is then made from scratch. Because of a lack of chemicals, clients are told that not all colors that they’re used to can be made. Hair stylists take advantage of heating and cooling sessions to open the cuticles, as well as a scalp massage to break down the color molecules.

“It’s quite an involved experience between the client and the stylist,” Amoriello says. “The massage part is very relaxing.”

Amoriello says that anyone allergic to normal hair products, whether by skin contact or by fumes, will find the organic treatment a viable alternative.

“If you enter my salon, it doesn’t smell like a normal salon,” Amoriello says.

In addition to offering organic hair products, Amoriello’s also follows the virtue of caring by hosting a trip to Italy, open to their staff, clients and strangers. What began as a trip for he and Sally in 2004 has become a tour group that visits the country every three years. This year, the group will be visiting the lakes region of the country.

The Amoriellos hope to continue their 18-year commitment to friends and family in Medford, New Jersey, by staying away from the glamour of the upscale salon, and bringing clients into a friendly atmosphere, where they can feel comfortable about the products in their hair.

“There shouldn’t be a trade-off for the cost of a hair product and the safety of its use,” says Amoriello.

Amoriello Hair Designs is located in Ironstone Village, 560 Stokes Rd., in Medford. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 609-654-2127, or visit

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