Why Are Hair Brands So Late To The Clean Beauty Game?

From botanical skincare to zero-waste makeup, we now have countless options to go as clean and green as our heart desires in our beauty routine. That is, aside from haircare. Compared to the skincare and cosmetics industries, haircare seriously lags behind in the clean beauty game.

It’s not as simple as one would assume to find an effective shampoo or conditioner that’s free of sulfates, parabens, fragrances, and silicones. So, why is this the case?

clean hair beauty
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“Green haircare lags behind green beauty because it is difficult to formulate good products with natural ingredients,” says Jessica Burman, Founder of Cocoon Apothecary, a Canadian natural and vegan skincare line.

“The chemistry of haircare relies on surfactants, emulsifiers and silicones, whereas skincare can be as simple as one oil to cleanse and moisturize. There is innovation in the industry, but the demand for green haircare isn’t as high because there is the perception that hair products don’t come in contact with skin.”

Let’s be honest: the reality is that hair is one of the first things you notice about someone and, historically, some clean haircare products just don’t cut it for some hair types.

clean hair beauty
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Natural shampoos that lack chemicals, sadly, haven’t often been able to live up to its counterparts when it comes to lather, shine and lack of grease. “I’ve heard a lot of talks about brands going green and the industry is starting to see a shift in the products we’re using on our hair,” says Toronto beauty expert Allana Davis, who styles the locks of Toronto’s society page regulars. “The limitations some highlight often fall on how well green products can preform to remove product buildup – not so much how they can nourish the hair.”

The reality is that just because natural shampoos and conditioners simply don’t lather which is a side effect of being sulfate–free, however that doesn’t mean they’re not working.

clean hair beauty
Instagram/@pantene

The beauty industry is an innovative one, and the green sector is growing, albeit slowly; if you want to treat your locks to clean hair care products, it isn’t as difficult to do so as in was in the not-so-distant past. Sephora’s Clean at Sephora section, for example, features a whole section devoted to clean haircare.

The secret is also spreading about the benefits of the easy-to-execute reality of a green salon stocked with eco-friendly products.

clean hair beauty
Instagram/@greencirclesalons

Toronto-based company Green Circle Salons offers a turnkey program that allows salons to repurpose and recover up to 95 per cent of the resources that were once considered waste like hair, leftover hair colour, foils, colour tubes, aerosol cans, paper, and plastics.

While the commitment may seem like an ambitious one for business owners, at the very basics, salons and customers can start with using green products.

To fully make this work, more haircare brands need to not only innovate and adapt, but they require the support of retailers to stock their shelves with product.

clean hair beauty
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It costs more to produce green hair products, so they products (which is part of the problem) are inevitably going to be pieced higher than traditional ones. Recognizing the benefit of this, both customers and retailers should understand this.

While there may not be as many options in haircare as there is in skincare, one thing that is certain is there will be a demand for it, as conscious consumers increasingly seek sustainably produced products that are free from potentially harmful chemicals.

The good news is that the future of hair care is brighter and greener.

Featured Image: Instagram/@playa

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