How can you embrace sustainability in hairdressing?

October 2, 2023

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s good to be green when it comes to your business practices. Sustainability is much more than a trend; it’s an urgent necessity that everybody needs to participate in. Sustainability in hairdressing may not seem all that easy to achieve, but there are ways to reduce your carbon footprint without having to compromise your brand identity or completely shake up the way you operate.

The hair and beauty industry can play its part in protecting the environment while still keeping up with the latest trends and cutting-edge developments. In fact, if you neglect to address your business impact on nature, you risk falling behind competitors. You can make more ethical choices without having to change your service offering or lower your standards, while also attracting an ever-increasing section of the market who are environmentally conscious. Many clients now value companies that prioritise the planet, so it makes business sense to shift attitudes towards more ecologically-minded ways of working.

In this article, we discuss why all this is so vital, giving you tips for adopting environmentally sustainable work practices in hairdressing.

Why is sustainability important in hairdressing?

Sustainable hairdressers and salon owners still aren’t the norm. Of course, there are plenty of businesses making waves for their efforts. The most well-known brands who took this strategy early enough now stand out as leaders who inspired positive change. However, the environmental factors in hairdressing are numerous, so there is still much room for improvement across the industry as a whole.

Many of the most-used products in a hairdresser’s kit aren’t biodegradable, from cotton wool to foils, tissues to shampoos, colours and styling products in plastic packaging. Further to this, it’s unsurprising that hairdressers use a lot of energy when washing hair daily, using an array of tools constantly and requiring long hours of lighting from various fixtures. Not to mention that many hair products contain chemicals that are harmful to Earth’s ecosystems.

There are plenty of business benefits to going sustainable too, including reducing your costs, protecting your reputation, cornering a new market and maximising your longevity.

How can I make my salon environmentally friendly?

From greener products to reduced waste and energy-efficient practices, here are six tips for how hair salons can be more sustainable.

Use sustainable products and always check ingredients

One of the first and most effective steps hairdressers can take towards sustainability is opting for eco-friendly products. Many leading and smaller brands now offer shampoos, conditioners, and styling products free from dangerous chemicals and in recyclable packaging.

Find products with certifications such as ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘vegan’ to ensure they adhere to ethical and sustainable codes. As the hair industry is self-regulated, you have to know what to look for to avoid being fooled by greenwashing. When it comes to hair colour, you’ll need to select products with low ammonia content. There are many ingredients in different go-to products that have the green light to use guilt-free, from organic botanicals to ethically sourced oils.

Think about everything you use as a business; there’ll be more opportunities than you realise for making more thoughtful choices. Everything from toilet roll to cleaning products and tea bags can be switched for less damaging varieties.

Commit to recycling in every way possible

Salons generate a fair amount of waste, from hair clippings to used foil and empty product containers. So, it’s highly important to implement thorough systems for recycling. Clearly communicate these to everyone who uses the premises, setting up a comprehensive system with separate recycling bins in accessible places and easy-to-understand signs.

Hair waste could be collected and sent to organisations that use them for environmental initiatives, such as cleaning up river pollution and oil spills, or turning it into composting fertiliser. There are many charities that will gratefully receive hair waste donations to recycle it for wigs, too. You could also encourage clients to bring their own reusable towels or capes, instead of using disposable ones.

If you want to really commit to being more circular, you could even ban the use of plastic water bottles on your premises. And of course, the best way to avoid waste is to go digital, so invest in your online presence rather than traditional offline marketing, directing customers to your website rather than endless paper brochures and leaflets.

Get savvy on energy-efficient hacks

Hair salons inevitably take a lot of lighting and heating to run. Switching to LED bulbs is a simple way to use less electricity. This will both bring down your bills and give you more efficient illumination that lasts longer. Wall insulation can also help regulate room temperatures and reduce your energy by 25%, while programmable thermostats help you to use only what’s essential for heating and cooling your space. Use a green energy supplier and get smart meters installed, so that you only pay for what you’re using.

Sustainable hairdressers need to keep on top of water consumption, too. Conserving this precious resource is important for the environment when it comes to droughts and protecting wildlife habitats. It also saves on your bills. You can invest in low-flow showerheads and taps to minimise water wastage during shampooing and rinsing.

Be firm and fair with staff about using water more efficiently, encouraging them to turn off taps when not in use and only use washing machines when there is a full load. The small actions can contribute to significant water savings over time.

Make better practices part of your culture

Not only can hairdressers introduce eco-friendly sensibilities into your daily routines, you can communicate this ethos to everyone who interacts with your business and make it part of your company mission. Train any staff members on how they’re required to support your shared goals, making it clear that this isn’t a short-term drive for cost-cutting but a sincere ongoing campaign for contributing to a better world.

Shout about what you do to clients and partners; mention your aims and actions on your website, in email newsletters and on social media; you could even talk about it to press if you want to be featured in industry magazines. Get everyone excited about the ways they can get involved and be transparent about the positive effect it will have. Take an interest in news on climate change and environmental issues, so that you can live and breathe your purpose and remain clear on your motivations.

Educate clients about sustainable haircare habits they can implement at home when you advise on aftercare, such as using kinder haircare products and reducing water usage during showers.

Design your salon using a sustainability-first approach

Environmental sustainability in a hairdressing salon is grounded in the design. A space that has been created for responsible operations will make it all the easier to stay on the right track and run your business with integrity, remaining faithful to your mission.

When designing or refurbishing a salon, consider using sustainable materials for flooring, furniture, and decor. Everything from wood to cork and metal can fit the bill for this. Reclaimed or recycled, rather than new, products will help to reduce the environmental impact of renovations and interior updates.

Incorporating natural lighting can also reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day, further cutting energy consumption. Large windows and skylights will do wonders for this, while also making for a beautifully bright space that customers will love to spend time in.

Get smart with thoughtful brand collaborations

Sustainability in hairdressing salons can extend beyond your own business. Being selective about who you work with will cement your brand as one that takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. This can extend to the hair products, tools and uniforms you invest in, the influencers you work with and trade shows you appear at.

Partnering with sustainable brands and suppliers not only means you source the right products; these collaborations can also raise your profile if you agree to promote each other’s work and get you seen by right-minded new clients.

You could also join online directories of sustainable businesses, so that you are established as an ethical business or freelancer within a vast global network and seen alongside other reputable names.

Get your hairdressing insurance from Protectivity

When you’re running your own hairdressing business, you want to know that you’re financially supported should anything go wrong. Whether property is damaged, you’re the victim of a crime or an unfortunate incident occurs, having the right insurance will help mitigate the impact on you and your company.

Protectivity have designed Hairdressing Insurance to meet the needs of self-employed salon professionals. With up to £10 million in Public Liability Insurance, you can breathe a little easier if claims are brought against you by a third party. The same amount is covered under Employers’ Liability, in the event that any employees suffer injury or illness. Equipment Cover is up to the amount of £12,000 should you need a replacement due to damage, while Personal Accident Cover offers reassuring protection for loss of income.

Get an instant tailored quote for Protectivity’s Hairdressing Insurance. Our advisors are on hand to help if you need any support.