Updated: May 4, 2021
Hair care is important but you should start considering the environmental impact that you generate by going to the hairdresser or simply buying a shampoo. That’s why you need to follow these 5 tips for an eco-friendly hair care.
1. STOP PLASTIC PACKAGING
According to Eurostat data, in 2018, in the UK each inhabitant generated 178.08 kg on average of waste in packages, above the European average (174 kg). Of these, 20% was made of plastic, established as the second most used material by the British after paper and cardboard.
Unilever estimates that 70% of cosmetic waste comes from packaging. Shampoos, conditioners, hair masks are all products that we find packaged in deadly envelopes for the ecosystem. Fortunately, many companies in the beauty industry (e.g. Garnier, L'Oreal) have started to adopt sustainable containers for a more eco-friendly hair care routine.
Davines, for example, since 2018 uses "carbon neutral" or zero impact packaging. The famous Italian brand has in fact increased the percentage of packaging created with recyclable products and eliminated unnecessary packaging reducing waste. In addition, their entire supply chain operates in the sense of sustainability and transparency, ensuring natural and sustainable products, created with respect for biodiversity.
2. CHECK THE LABEL
Checking that the bottles of shampoo we buy are recyclable is not enough. You must also check the ingredients. In particular you have to pay attention to the presence of toxic and polluting substances. Let’s take hair dyes for example.
Hair dyes contain a large amount of chemical ingredients and powerful allergens. These include ammonia and its substitutes (monoethanolamine), used to penetrate the hair color. While the former is harmful only if ingested, the latter can cause damage even if inhaled or in contact with the skin. Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) is used as a colour reagent and is one of the most potent contact allergens (along with Tuolene-2,5 Diamine Sulfate or PTD) and this too is often replaced by other equally toxic reagents. Finally, there is benzene and formaldehyde, which because they are classified as carcinogenic type 1 substances, are often camouflaged and not on the label.
The solution? Check the label and avoid harmful substances. Besides, you can replace these products with dyes or lightening made with natural and sustainable substances.
There are lines of natural dyes consisting of mixtures of herbs and henna for a more eco-friendly hair care. The coloring process of these colors is longer and laborious but in return the most creative can create the colors they want.
3. BEWARE OF FALSE IMITATIONS
Many products declare themselves ecological, cruelty-free, vegan but not all are.
To ensure that cosmetics are truly organic and sustainable, we must look for certifications that guarantee that the product we are buying really has the environmental or ecological characteristics declared by the manufacturer. These include ICEA, AIAB, Cosmos, Ecocert, Natrue, CCPB, ISO.
Ecocert, for example, is the largest European environmental inspection and certification association. The products that receive their certification must have at least 95% natural ingredients and the packaging used by the company must be biodegradable.
The Leaping Bunny logo, on the other hand, ensures that products are not tested on animals at any of the production stages. Although it allows companies to comply with the ban on testing with regular checks, it does not ensure that products and ingredients are natural or organic.
4. REDUCE WASTE (WATER AND ELECTRICITY)
Considering that 80% of the water impact of a shampoo occurs while we are using it, the advice is to start adopting devices that reduce waste.
An example is the aerators, devices that mix air to the flow of water generating a lighter jet. Applying this aerator will help you save up to 7 liters of water per minute for a shower. Besides, remember to always turn off the tap when you don’t use it.
However, a shampoo water footprint consists not only in its use but also in its production. An important factor to consider if we want to avoid the waste of such valuable environmental resources. Therefore, try shampoo and conditioner bars wich contains a higher concentration of shampoo that guarantees a greater number of use and respect for the environment.
About hairdryers, the use of electrical equipments class A is essential for energy saving. Learn how to read energy labels, to limit the expenditure of electricity for a more eco-friendly hair care. Also make sure that the energy you consume comes from renewable sources, adopting a 100% renewable electricity supplier.
5. CHOOSE SUSTAINABLE HAIRDRESSERS
Hairdressing salons can produce a huge amount of waste: from plastic containers, aluminum to even cut hairs; in addition to risking to pollute the environment by dumping toxic substances down the sink.
According to an article by Repubblica, every year the 27 EU countries cut about 28,000 tons of hair. These end up having a big environmental impact due to their characteristics of absorption of oily materials.
Fortunately, the frontier of eco-sustainability has also arrived in beauty salons. In Australia, Bernie Craven’s social enterprise, Waste Free Systems, helps hairdressers become more sustainable by reducing the amount of waste generated in salons. In order to reduce the ecological impact produced, it is sufficient only to separate the various types of waste before they leave the individual businesses. In this way it is possible to recycle much more, decreasing the costs even for the salons themselves.
Everything can be recycled: plastic, paper, aluminum, metals, chemicals and hair. Craven's company collaborates not only with recycling companies but also with several universities and local bio-farmers to test hair composting. It also distributes unused hair products from salons to the homeless and donates the proceeds from selling this recycled waste to local charities.
In the UK, more and more hairdressing salons are converting to a green culture.
Although much still needs to be done, starting to choose a more eco-friedly hair care routine and products, which promote recycling and respect for the environment is a way to feed this green revolution.