Sustainability in the beauty industry: II part

Hair salons have a certain fragrance. You always know when you’re in one.  No surprise, since nearly 5000 chemicals are listed as products for hair care, including 3300 synthetic compounds.   Beyond the shampoo and conditioner, there are hair dyes, oils, propellants, and various sprays to keep hair in place. 

A recent study in Italy examined the concentration of a variety of these compounds in the air inside and outside of hair salons. These included a variety of alcohols, terpenes, and ketone compounds, with gaseous phases. Some such as benzene and xylene have potential carcinogenic properties. 

Again, no surprise: concentrations were often 10 times higher inside of hair salons, and were usually quickly traced to products in use.  Many of these compounds are known to have human health risks and the total concentrations recorded were often above levels with known impacts. 

Little is known about the effect of combined exposure to more than one of these chemicals at the same time. And, surprisingly, the size of the salon and the efficiency of its air handling system made little difference to exposure levels. 

The biggest factor determining high concentrations of indoor air pollution was the type of products being used. Perhaps we need to identify the top offenders and look for alternatives. 

While many of us get a periodic dose of these compounds on our occasional visits: think of the hairdressers that work and breathe in these environments day-in and day-out.   It may be time to go back to basics with our hair care. 

Beauty comes at a price, and at the moment it’s an expensive one for our environment. Hair and beauty salons have a huge impact on the health of our planet, and the way they’re run makes more of a difference than we might think. 

 

It is no secret that the hair and beauty industries produce a lot of waste. Most industries on that scale do. It is the type of waste and how it’s disposed of that’s the problem. Many salons use and sell products containing extremely toxic chemicals, with much of it going straight down the drain. 

The solution is rather simple. It’s not difficult to understand, and it doesn’t require huge effort. We simply need to care. 

 

TOXIC PRODUCTS 

Just because a label says natural, it doesn’t always mean it’s safe. Formaldehyde is a natural substance, but also a known carcinogen. It’s also a common ingredient in keratin treatments. Not only is it dangerous to use on yourself and others, but the damage it causes doesn’t stop when it washes down the drain. 

Microbeads are another highly destructive ingredient found in a tremendous amount of beauty products. They’re tiny plastic balls that are added to things like facial cleansers for exfoliating or polishing purposes. They can even be found in some toothpastes. They are normally less than 1mm in diameter and they don’t biodegrade. They find their way into rivers, lakes, and oceans very easily. From there they end up harming marine life, and can even get into drinking water. Microbeads are considered such a blight on our environment that in some countries they will soon be illegal. 

Solution: Many all-natural рrоduсtѕ offer thе same bеnеfitѕ without leaving a harmful footprint оn оur environment. Microbeads for example, are easily replaced by sand or husks. It’s not hard these days to avoid products that can harm the environment. Just do a bit of research on items that you buy, and try to use and sell all natural products at your salon. 

 

WASTE DISPOSAL 

Over 1.5 million kg of foil and colour tube waste was dumped into Australian landfills last year. This is despite aluminium having the ability to maintain its quality after being recycled many times over. 

Salons churn through a lot of products and even if you are throwing empties in the correct bin, a lot of energy is used to recycle that plastic. 

Solution: Recycling aluminium foil can be done with only 5% of the energy it takes to create.  

Even hair can be recycled into useful products! 

There are multiple companies that offer refilling, or even recycling services for their products. Having one refillable bottle rather than constantly buying plastic ones, is a great way to reduce waste. Remember that glass bottles are also more easily recycled than plastic. 

 

ATTITUDES 

The greatest problem our environment faces is the attitudes of those who don’t care. It’s easy for many to ignore environmental issues. We often don’t see the immediate effects of our actions, or rather, inaction. 

Salon workers get more up close and personal with their clients than most other professionals. They chat with them, share opinions, and even advise on their daily routine. Your regular clients trust you. If they see that you care about the environment, they’re more likely to follow suit. 

Solution: Recommend all-natural products, encourage proper waste management, and spread the word about living a sustainable life. Going green opens up your salon to a whole new customer base – those who care. 

Running a sustainable salon helps you look more professional. You’ll be relating to your clients on a more personal level and best of all, you will feel good about running your business. With a few changes in habit, you can even save money. 

This article is a part of a 3-parts blog post, here is the link to the 1st part:

Sustainability in the Wellness & Beauty Industry

Author of the article is Reena Sheth, an Award winning Spa professional, with over 15 years of experience in operations, with a diploma in Naturopathy from Medicina Alternativa & INPA.

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