Having a good hair day means much more than simply liking what you see in the mirror – it’s about healthy minds and a healthy planet. Rosie Greenaway hears from the hair care experts who are advocating for both
Although we know there’s more to life than hair, we still think it’s a pretty good place to start.” That’s the mantra of PETA-certified hair care brand Aussie, which uses indigenous farming methods and hand-harvesting to source ingredients ‘straight from the motherland’ – that being the land Down Under. Back here on British shores, organic hairdresser Tabitha James Kraan’s personal philosophy about hair care centres firmly around our treatment of planet earth. “Something as simple as washing your hair can feel very innocent, but actually the amount of people around the world that wash their hair every day, and the impact that has, is huge. Small changes can have a huge impact on scale,” explains Kraan, whose certified organic hair care range TJK has won a plethora of accolades since its birth in 2013.
Kraan says that the shower is ‘a place to be really mindful and aware of what we’re using’ and how often – because everything that goes down the drain goes into our oceans. “The more natural the ingredients on your hair, your hair is happier for it. The less you wash your hair, the less it needs to be washed because your body can balance and harmonize.”
While she’s reluctant to label it a trend, she does dare to ‘forecast in hope’ that fewer plastics in hair care formulations will become part of our future ‘with urgency’ and that the broader industry will swing away from the microplastics which are ‘prevalent everywhere’.
“Lots of hair care literally uses liquefied plastic in its formulations. That is what’s in the food chain. We’ve got some of the highest levels of plastic in the UK in our rivers, and what we’re washing down our sinks is a contributing factor to that. We need to work a lot more harmoniously in terms of the planet – and more respectfully. We’re not talking about beads, we’re talking about liquid plastics. People don’t realize that they’re … coating their hair in plastics.
“We need to work a lot more harmoniously in terms of the planet – and more respectfully”
“It’s essential that the hair care industry makes that shift towards being truly, authentically sustainable. Anybody who doesn’t start to think that way is really going to lag behind,” she says, explaining that the old paradigm of thinking isn’t good enough for the next generation. “I do believe the younger Gen Z and X are there already. They have very clear ideas on what they will and won’t accept. It’s a major polluter in the cosmetics industry. That’s just not acceptable anymore for me. I don’t understand why it isn’t being adopted in a bigger way.”
With high-end London department store Selfridges recently having launched its sustainability initiative, Project Earth, some areas of mainstream retail do appear to be inching the public towards a more sustainable way of life. But are they truly committed, questions Kraan? “I love that Selfridges is doing Project Earth – it’s wonderful. But are they being serious? Because I haven’t heard from them yet. There are a lot of us in this industry that are doing this properly. They’re telling the story beautifully … but is it lip service or is there authenticity in what they’re prepared to do in terms of selling the real deal?”
Rather than reflect a change in approach, Selfridges sees Project Earth as an extension of its existing ways. In an exclusive conversation with Melissa McGinnis, Selfridges’ head of beauty buying, NBN learnt that the retailer is now ‘equally conscious’ about ensuring its customers have access to vegan and cruelty-free hair care as it originally was about providing solutions to a variety of hair types and needs. So far, it has partnered with Aveda and Davines, but is a relationship with organic brands on the cards? It’s certainly a possibility.
“As a department store, we are always looking for new sustainable hair care brands to partner with,” says McGinnis, who welcomes further conversations with experts in the natural and organic sector. “We are always wanting to know about the latest trends within sustainability from experts within the field to ensure we are offering our customers brands and products which are innovative as well as Earth-friendly.”
That lockdown look
It’s something most of us fell victim to during lockdown: the ‘overdue for a trim’ look; the ‘overgrown roots’ look; the ‘wonky fringe’ look; the ‘over-zealous shaved head’ look. With salons forced to shut for so long, people had no option but to put up with their lockdown locks or improvise with home hair care kits. “Over time this began to impact how people felt about their identity,” comments Kraan, who adds that the act of caring for one’s own hair was ‘actually really empowering’. “Your hair really does affect how you feel about yourself and so from that point of view, your wellbeing as well. It is that extra level of confidence that people have when they know that their hair’s looking good.”
Lockdown might be behind us, but when Kraan moved her salon to its new Chipping Norton location before reopening, she took a number of steps to future-proof the business for the post-COVID world. “We’ve spaced all of the seating to a minimum of two metres apart, including all the wash basins. We’ve really restructured the whole building to make it work. If there are changes in social distancing that come back in, then we can still stay functioning. We’re going to have to learn to live with the virus. The reality is … if it’s not this virus it might be something else, so we’ve really got to learn how to function this way.”
It’s not just the way hairdressers work now which is different; Kraan says clients’ tastes have changed too. “They’re really thinking about the whole thing differently, which is really fascinating. But we’ve noticed a big shift in what our customers are asking for. They want lower maintenance hair that they can really understand how to care for better at home. They don’t want something that’s really high maintenance … because they’ve now experienced what that looks like when they can’t get back in!”
Here come the boys
The saying goes: ‘A good hair stylist is cheaper than a good therapist’. So, aesthetics aside, when salon closures were mandated by Government, the nation faced a far more important crisis than split ends – and that’s the issue of mental health. With the weight of the world on their shoulders, where could people go to off-load their woes? When the BBC ran a news story in late May about the importance of barber shops to local communities, it highlighted the gaping hole that salon closures created for men – in particular those in the black community, for whom regular barber shop banter can open the door to more serious emotional conversations. Barber shops act as a judgement-free hub where men can get more than just a ‘short back and sides’, and so important is this oft-overlooked aspect of professional hair care that there’s a whole community dedicated to it. The Lions Barber Collective raises awareness of men’s mental health and trains barbers to look for signs of depression – it’s even caught the attention of Prince William.
On the products side, while the category is still largely geared towards women, there is a growing presence of brands which specifically cater to the needs of men. Take NO GUNK, for example: its 100% natural and organic products are aimed at ‘funky fellas’ who seek a departure from the classic gel look they wore in their teens. The residue-free formulas used in its shampoo, styling wax, clay and grooming kits are suitable for a range of textures and diverse hair types. The brand also openly talks about anti-racism and chooses to promote diversity in its social media marketing. Founder Sal Essa says this opens up his reach to audiences around the world. “The brand is much bigger than just me and my ethnic origins. As a brand, it’s important for us for our customers to be able to see themselves in our marketing. Having a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and hair types is important as we sell our products in 23 countries around the world. Naturally, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Making an effort in this area allows our community (of ‘Funky Fellas’) to easily relate to the NO GUNK mission and allows us to engage a broader range of potential customers.”
Hair care hot list
• Ksoni ‘shampoo in a can’: sustainable Ayurvedic-based shampoos, which meet the hair care needs of BAME customers, presented in a can to reduce single-use plastics in the bathroom
• Afrolocke: vegan shampoo and conditioner for afro hair which defines
curls, nourishes ‘your thirsty mane’ and strengthens dry hair fibres
• Bamford Liquid Boost: a nourishing hair supplement, containing bioavailable chlorophyll extracted from alfalfa plants
• Aromase 5α Juniper Scalp Purifying Liquid Shampoo: a cleansing pre-shampoo treatment for dry, itchy, flaky scalps, which removes excess sebum
• Urtekram: newly rebranded shampoos and conditioners in three variants: Intense Moisture with hydrating aloe vera and revitalizing lemongrass; Ultimate Repair with shea butter and jojoba oil; and Maximum Shine with lavender and broccoli seed oil
• Naturtint Shampoo & Conditioning Bars: a trio of dual-action, creamy foaming bars (Colour Protecting Radiance; Nourishing Anti-Frizz; and Strengthening Revitalise) based on coconut-derived cleansers and lasting for between 75 and 90 washes
• Faith in Nature Dragonfruit Shampoo Bar: solid shampoo bars which provide 52 washes, delicately scented with dragon fruit and suitable for all hair types
• Natalia Botanicals Full Mane: uses organic adaptogens which provide an antioxidant, protein and collagen boost to strengthen hair from root to tip
• Giovanni Hemp Hydrating Hair Care Collection: salon-quality, cruelty-free shampoo, conditioner and styling elixir featuring a vegan-friendly complex of hemp seed oil, aloe vera, frankincense, turmeric, sage, hops and chamomile to relax and smooth hair
• BioKap Rapid Dyes: Natural unisex dyes which cover grey hair in just ten minutes, containing rice proteins, willow derivative and fruit acids to restructure the hair, prevent discolouration and protect the scalp
• Awake Organics Caffeine + Rosemary Vegan Shampoo: the UK’s ‘tiniest plastic-free shampoo’
(at just over 4” tall) for colour-treated, weak and thinning hair.
• JASON Thicken & Restore Biotin+Hyaluronic Acid Shampoo & Conditioner: new and improved recipe formulas which now include hyaluronic acid for clinically proven results in moisturizing the scalp and preventing hair thinning.
Organic Vegan Aloe Shampoo
E-mail: [email protected]
Packed full of cruelty free certified and sustainably sourced ingredients including aloe vera and coconut, hair is left feeling soft and gently cleansed. SLS free, this unscented shampoo is suitable for all hair types and even the most sensitive of skin.
Working alongside ocean clean up organisation, Plastic Soup Foundation, this shampoo has been developed with microplastic free ingredients. Alongside reusable and plastic free packaging, this is included in Beauty Kitchen’s ground-breaking Return · Refill · Repeat programme. 300ml RRP £10, available to purchase with pump for life.
Fragrance Free Shampoo 95g
Friendly Soap Ltd
When no scents makes perfect sense. A super-simple shampoo with natural conditioning properties without added fragrance. Sometimes less is moreish. That’s the thinking behind Friendly’s gorgeous new fragrance-free shampoo bar, which ditches scents in favour of an irresistibly simple blend of four natural ingredients – great for sensitive skin and scalps. The conditioning properties of castor oil and blended it with olive and coconut oils for added richness and natural moisturising. The only other ingredient is organic argan oil: another natural conditioner promoting strong, healthy hair. Every bar comes in a recycled and recyclable card box printed with veggie inks.
Avalon Organics Therapy Biotin B Complex Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner
Avalon Organics Therapy Biotin B Complex Shampoo and Conditioner feature a carefully balanced blend of biotin, saw palmetto, quinoa protein and vitamin E designed to build body in fine, thinning hair, nourish hair from root to tip, strengthen hair strands and stimulate the scalp to encourage hair growth. In clinical testing: 91% of users reported easy to detangle hair after use, and users reported hair had body and was free of flyaways after use. pH balanced and with no GMO, SLS/SLES, synthetic colours or fragrances, phthalates or animal testing. NSF-certified, EWG-verified, vegan and biodegradable.
Giovanni Hydrating Hemp Hair Care Collection
Introducing new Hemp Hydrating Hair Care Collection from Giovanni – Salon-Quality, Vegan-Friendly and Cruelty-Free. Suited to all hair types and safe for coloured hair, the range features an exclusive vegan-friendly complex of hemp seed oil, aloe vera, frankincense, turmeric, sage, hops and chamomile to moisturise, relax and smooth hair. The Giovanni Rule of Balance means all their hair care is created without harsh chemicals and toxic ingredients, with high performance ingredient combinations, many of which are organic and all biodegradable, packed inside eco-friendly packaging. Products include: Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-In Conditioner & Styling Elixir, Serum, Shine Spray and Conditioning Mask
JASON Strong & Healthy Jojoba+Castor Oil Shampoo & Conditioner
New and improved Everyday and Therapy Hair Care formulas from JASON – with on-trend ingredients and clinically proven results! Long & Strong Jojoba is now Strong & Healthy Jojoba+Castor Oil, an ingredient long used to stimulate hair growth, moisturise the scalp and promote hair growth by stimulating circulation and leave hair smooth and shiny. Strong & Healthy Jojoba Hair Care from JASON has been instrumentally tested and shown to: protect hair for 2x less breakage and repair up to 80% of split ends. The post-consumer resin bottles have also undergone a redesign and now have easier to open and stronger flip-tops.
The new innovative Shampoo Tablets from Ben & Anna might be small but don’t be fooled! They are packed with valuable natural ingredients including baking soda, olive oil and a selection of plant extracts to ensure your hair is cleansed, nourished and cared for. Chamomile flower extract helps to condition hair and abyssinian seed oil leaves hair more manageable, with high shine and helps to protect against irritants. Their new tablets are also available as shower gels and toothpaste. For more information contact [email protected]
Tabitha James Kraan High Performance Hair Organics
It has been Tabitha’s vision for over nearly two decades to be able to work with pure organic hair care products in her professional salons. Disillusioned with compromising in between performance and purity, she decided to develop her own collection of Soil Association Cosmos Organic certified hair care products, pushing the boundaries of hair alchemy, to create a range of products that meets her exacting standards.
The result is a range of the purest, cleanest, most organic hair products possible that work in harmony with the hair and the scalp. Hair that is treated to the Tabitha James Kraan formula has natural shine and lustre, vibrant colour, smells amazing and stays looking good for days.
The range is based on Tabitha’s personal philosophy and 30 years experience in the industry, that great hair is founded on 3 core principles.
1. Oil balancing, Tabitha’s unique organic hair oil blend, able to absorb into and seal the hair shaft, providing strength and protection, without weighing the hair down. The hair oil also acts like a varnish, deepening and enriching the natural or coloured tones of the hair enhancing and protecting all colours.
2. Correct cleansing, the Hair Cleansers gently cleanse the hair using soapbark, which creates a natural soap to clean. The Clean Shampoo is a more traditional, but supernatural, highly nourishing shampoo. By cleansing this way the scalp’s natural equilibrium is maintained and excess oil production is calmed, thus balancing over time.
3. Moisture layering, hair always performs best when it is moisturised correctly, purely and naturally. Most problems are caused by moisture/oil being stripped from the hair. I have designed products that enable you to replace that moisture easily and effectively building layers to achieve longevity of healthy hair.
By being innovative, creative and caring about our health and our planet, Tabitha has created excellent performance hair care products without compromise.