At Glasshouse Salon we’ve always believed maintaining healthy, glossy hair shouldn’t cost the earth. From our fragrant loose leaf teas (which are refilled in person by Hackney Herbal) to our towels and capes (reusable and biodegradable) to the natural and organic products we stock (housed in a mixture of recycled, recyclable and refillable materials), we’re doing our bit to reduce our reliance on plastic and lighten the load to landfill. With the beauty industry churning out 77 billion units of plastic packaging per year, we know it still has a long way to go before it can look David Attenborough square in the eye. So, this year we’re taking our eco-credentials to the next level by offering a reduced waste service for our most conscious clients.
Our new service will swap out single-use plastic in favour of locally handmade shampoo bars from Bottega Zero Waste. And when it comes to colouring the hair, we’ll use paper foils instead of hard-to-recycle aluminium ones. To coincide with our new reduced waste service we’ve also introduced a refill system for both Oway and Organic Colour Systems’ shampoos and conditioners.
If, like us you’re fed-up of feeling guilty every time you reach for the bottle (a plastic shampoo bottle, that is) read on to find out more about how we’re zeroing in on waste in the salon and how you can too.
Join the refill revolution
The joy that results from a good refill is no longer confined to the fizzy drinks machine at Nandos. These days – thanks to a spike in bulk buy shops and growing environmental awareness, we can top up everything from cooking oil to conditioner. Re-using a perfectly good container keeps plastic out of the environment, ensures oil stays in the ground (as plastic is petroleum-derived) and will undoubtedly reduce the time you spend making impulsive purchasing decisions in an overlit aisle of Superdrug.
Although their uptake has soared in the wake of the David Attenborough docs, refills aren’t a new concept. In 2019 The Body Shop re-introduced a refill station after a hiatus of nearly three decades, proof that this closed loop system isn’t straightforward to roll out. Glasshouse Salon go-to Organic Colour Systems first introduced a refill system 21 years ago but strict hygiene regulations made it difficult to implement. According to founder and Managing Director, Raoul Perfitt, the company has to factor in hygiene issues, product traceability and come up with a robust system to ensure no product contamination. “If I get my way, we’ll eventually have a closed loop recycling system with our bottles returned directly to us,” says Perfitt. “They would then become the PCR pellets our bottles are made from. This level of traceability would see us in total control of our packaging; we’d know it’s not ending up in landfills.”
Natural and organic hair experts Oway have also had to navigate the red tape of manufacturing standards. As well as using organic ingredients cultivated via biodynamic methods on a dreamy estate in Northern Italy, Oway only uses recyclable glass and aluminium containers. We have introduced a refill service for both Oway and Organic Colour Systems’ shampoos and conditioners and are offering a 10% deduction on your product if you bring in your empties to the salon for refilling.
Choose bars over bottles
If you’re breaking up with the plastic that lines your bathroom shelves, you’ll be in the market for replacements that are good for the planet and your tresses. Bottega Zero Waste’s range of high performing soaps are designed to work just like your traditional shampoo minus the excessive packaging. Not only are they plastic, SLS and palm oil free but vegan-friendly and handmade right here in London. You can’t get much greener (or cleaner) than that. Founder Marta Tarallo took some time away from the suds to chat with us about how she got into soap making.
After moving into a new flat, Tarallo was confronted with the amount of plastic she’d accumulated and soap was the first and most intuitive swap. Disappointed with the bars she encountered Tarallo set about making her own. “It was time to take back control of what I was consuming and go back to living more slowly, simply, and plastic free. That’s how I discovered what I truly believe to be the closest thing to magic: soap making.” The DIY alchemist says a bar that leaves the hair feeling sticky and dull hasn’t got the PH balance right: “Many soap makers claim that there is a transition phase from chemical shampoos that will make this effect go away but this is simply not the case. Instead, I have formulated a mild and PH balanced soap shampoo bar, which respects the natural acidity of our hair mantle.” The addition of natural and plant-based additives such as nettle leaf, rhassoul clay or panthenol also help to protect and nourish the hair. For those who are embarking on their first soap bar journey, Tarallo has some top tips.
“First, rub the shampoo bar in between your hands under the water, just like a normal soap bar. This will activate the lather. Second, gently rub the shampoo on your head with circular movements as if you are massaging your head. Do this while under running water and then rub the shampoo in using your fingers away from the running water. Third, apply the shampoo with the same method on the crown of the head and then on the sides. Tuck your chin into your chest to apply the shampoo on the back of the head and in harder to reach areas.”
Make it multi-use
Another way to reduce your environmental impact is to switch to a multi-purpose product such as the Glasshouse Hair, Hand and Body Wash. As well as being sulphate-free and plastic-free (don’t be fooled by appearances, the recyclable bottle is actually made from a natural bi-product of sugarcane harvesting). Our wash is enriched with extracts of organic chamomile, comfrey and aloe vera to soothe and hydrate. It also contains natural wheat protein, which does wonders for weak hair while the citrusy scent makes for a rejuvenating body wash. If you’re cutting back on your toiletries this uni-sex product is the only thing you need on your newly minimalist bathroom shelves.
It’s true, we could probably all get away with showering less and there’s certainly no need to wash your hair before you come in for a cut, as we’ll do it for you with our water-efficient taps. However, we’re also aware that it’s harder to get away with skipping washes when you live in a heavily polluted city. Everyone who’s ever been to a festival knows the secret to great hair that hasn’t seen a showerhead is dry shampoo. But it turns out those handbag-sized aerosols we’ve been carrying around aren’t so great for the environment. Alongside questionable ingredients such as talc, alcohol and silicones, the stuff that propels dry shampoo towards your roots is also damaging the Ozone layer.
Thankfully, brands are rethinking their ingredients, packaging and water usage, with some removing aqua from the ingredients list completely. The result is a more hardworking, concentrated formula. For those in-between-wash days when you want to style your locks but don’t have the time to soak them, we’d recommend the Plant and Mineral Refresh from Oway. Its water-free natural formula absorbs grease, adds volume and is a lifesaver on those days when you miss your alarm.
Another hair hack to keep your mane healthy between washes is to use an oil. “A simple tip that really changed my haircare routine is to add a couple of drops of lightweight, hair-loving oil (I love using hemp seed, but coconut, tomato seed or jojoba are also wonderful) to your hair ends and give it a nice brush before going to bed,” says Tarallo.
Read our piece on how beauty is going waterless
Get the chop
A bob might not suit everyone’s hair type or be to everyone’s taste but getting the chop isn’t just trendy, it’s eco-friendly too. Back in 2018, Glamour interviewed women who were limited to 13 gallons or 50 litres per person per day due to prolonged droughts in South Africa. Naturally, long flowing locks became a water-guzzling luxury with one salon noting an increase in preference for shorter styles. A sleek bob means less hair to wash, style and blow-dry, which takes a bit of pressure off the planet and frees up your time for more important things. While the UK might not be suffering water shortages on a grand scale, we shouldn’t wait until it’s too late to make the changes that could have a positive difference now.
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Words: Kyra Hanson