So, you’ve swapped your skincare for an eco-friendlier formula, and have committed to ditching the plastic from your beauty routine – but what about haircare? With a number of new ‘dos’ emerging out of lockdown, looking after newly cut and coloured locks has never been more important, but how can we do so sustainably, and which sustainable hair products should we be using?
From the amount of water used to wash our hair to plastic packaging and environmentally damaging ingredients, haircare might be an eco-warrior’s worst nightmare. So, what are we up against?
How To Make Your Haircare More Sustainable
Ditch the plastic
It’s no secret that the beauty industry produces a damaging amount of plastic. According to Our World in Data, ‘packaging is the most dominant generator of plastic waste, responsible for almost half of the global total’, whilst ‘the booming $500 billion per year global personal care industry relies on plastic,’ as reported by National Geographic. From shampoo to hairspray, it’s likely that the majority of your haircare products are stocked in plastic bottles, most of which will end up in landfill or the sea – 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, according to Plastic Pollution.
Even more problematic, many of our beloved haircare products will include microplastics. ‘In cosmetics, “microplastic” refers to all types of tiny plastic particles (smaller than 5mm) that are intentionally added to cosmetics and personal care products,’ states The Beat the Microbead campaign. These non-biodegradable microbeads ultimately end up making their way into the ocean, entering – and therefore damaging – the marine food chain.
‘Sustainable products are the only way forward for a healthy planet and also healthy human beings,’ says hairstylist and founder of My. Hair Care, Rob Forgione. ‘Swapping out plastic bottled shampoo for bars is easy and reaching for more natural formulations.’ Waste free and essentially easier to travel with (say goodbye to luggage spills), shampoo and conditioner bars are an easy eco-switch which will do good for both your hair and the environment – a win win.
Wondering how to recycle your beauty products? Consult our guide.
Don’t be afraid to get dirty
You might turn off the tap in-between brushing your teeth and only indulge in a bath once a week, but have you ever considered what your regular hair wash might be doing for the environment? According to Water Wise, the average water used per person per day is 143 litres in England. Times that by the UK population (approx. 68 million), and that’s a lot of water consumption. The not-for-profit NGO also states that the optimum shower time is four minutes, but that ‘it is estimated that Britain ‘showers away’ more than 2,000,000,000 litres of water each day.’
The best approach? Try washing your hair less and cutting your shower time down as much as possible. If the thought of greasy hair is giving you the jitters, there are plenty of things you can do. Opt for a dry shampoo (Aveda’s Shampure dry shampoo is a great sustainable option) or a leave-in conditioner and find ways to make your hair work for you in-between washes (all hail the messy bun). A final tip: wash your hair on a lower temperature to both prevent breakage and use less energy.
Check the ingredients
When it comes to haircare, do we really know what we’re feeding our locks? How do we know which ingredients are sustainable? And how can we avoid greenwashing? Forgione recommends opting for products that are Sulfate-free, whilst looking for ‘vegan’ and nourishing botanicals is a good way to start. ‘When looking for any specifics though do keep in mind and make sure that it’s right for your hair and skin type,’ he states, ‘as it is important to keep it being nourished at all times.’
Other ingredients to avoid include parabens, palm oil, phthalates, alcohol and any synthetic colours (often made from coal tar). Stick to employing products from brands which clearly have the environment at heart and use naturally sourced, organic, vegan-friendly and cruelty free ingredients.
Visit a sustainable salon
Lastly, when hitting the salon for a fresh cut and blow dry, there are eco-friendlier options too. From Buller and Rice (‘born out of a natural love for and the environment’) to award-winning and certified BCorp Blue Tit, see the capitals best sustainable beauty salons here.