Here at Byrdie, we're on a mission to ensure our beauty choices are more sustainable. We're making conscious choices to shop eco-friendly when we can, and we're swotting up on what the best green hair products are and how we can make small life choices to help make a difference.
For me, starting my eco-friendly journey with my hair seemed like an obvious choice. Which is why I booked myself in at one of London's leading salons with a sustainable slant, Ralph and Rice. Located in the heart of East London (conveniently very close to my flat), Ralph and Rice was founded by Anita Rice and Dan Ralph in February 2017. Both of them have extensive experience in the hairdressing industry (New Zealander Rice has worked as a hairdresser for 18 years whereas Ralph previously worked as a sale rep for Davines) and together wanted to create a salon that focused on bringing sustainability, environmental care and recycling to the UK—something Rice told me wasn't a "thing" when she first moved here.
When you think about trying to make eco-friendly choices with beauty and hair, it can feel a little overwhelming. Where do you start? Are the best hair products going to be super expensive? What if you slip up and panic-buy that £2 shampoo you know isn't environmentally friendly? But that's the thing with Ralph and Rice: They're not trying to make you feel bad if you do have to forgo your green hair choices—they just want to make you think about it more.
"The most important message is that we're not mega eco-warriors, nor are we trying to force this belief down people's throats," Rice told us. "We want to showcase that you can have a premium service and help the environment by just doing a little bit. If everyone did a little bit, we would see the change across the industry."
The salon itself was built using locally sourced furniture from Hackney. The fixtures and cabinets are made from cork, which Rice tells me is one of the most sustainable products you can use, and the extraction of the cork doesn't harm the trees. The chairs were upholstered in the UK to help reduce their carbon footprint, and the salon has eco taps to save water usage. Even the small details like the biodegradable waffle-print towels are made from recycled paper, which helps reduce energy usage as the staff isn't constantly running the washing machine. Oh, and did I mention the salon looks like the inside of interiors heaven?
Courtesy of Ralph and Rice
It's not just the salon itself that's eco-friendly, either. It stocks and uses Davines, which is one of the most sustainable haircare lines you can buy. The family-owned haircare brand not only creates products that use renewable energy but also focuses on creating packaging that uses as few raw materials as possible and is made out of fully recyclable materials. During my visit to Ralph and Rice, I actively decided to purchase the products used on my hair. Even though my new Davines This Is Sea Salt Spray (£15) cost more than my usual Boots find, it's totally worth it knowing I'm making a small difference daily—and it makes my hair look great!
These days, Ralph and Rice isn't the only salon making active choices to be more environmentally friendly. Aveda uses biodegradable towels to help eliminate the water waste that can come from wash and reuse, and L'Oréal Professionnel is introducing a new in-store range of 100% vegan, plant-based hair dye called Botanea. The service will be available in salons around Europe from May. It finally feels like brands are catching onto the eco-friendly wave and understanding their consumers want guidance and the available tools to help make change.
If, like me, you want to start contributing to that change, Rice suggests buying products from brands like Davines and recycling the plastic after. We rounded up some of our favourite eco-friendly hair products below, to get you started on your journey.
Into the idea? Let us know how you got on in our private Facebook group, The British Beauty Line.