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A hairdresser washes a client's hair at a basin

Building sustainability into hair and beauty

Published: 25 January 2022

Professor Denise Baden from Southampton, launched an online sustainable salon certification and virtual salon training programme called the ‘Eco Hair and Beauty project’. It's been endorsed by key industry bodies and used as part of the the UK’s training for 14,000 hairdressing apprentices.

Aimed at salons and stylists, the training explains how to reduce their environmental impact while inspiring clients to save energy, water and use fewer chemicals at home.

Cutting the carbon footprint of the hair and beauty sector

Introducing sustainable hairdressing practices to reduce water, energy and chemical usage.

Bringing sustainability into practice

More than 50 salons and 1,000 stylists have gained this certificate which is backed by industry bodies including:

  • the Hairdressing Council
  • the Hair and Beauty Industry Authority
  • the Vocational Training Charitable Trust

Denise’s team has run over 60 sustainability workshops and training events. They’ve educated over 2,000 trainers, colleges and industry professionals about greener products and practises, including:

  • new water-saving technologies such as low-flow showerheads
  • leave-in conditioner
  • dry shampoo

Her research has also shaped the sustainability component of the training programme for the UK’s 14,000 hairdressing apprentices.

Adopting these kind of eco-friendly practices can make annual savings for the average four-seat salon of:

  • 286,000 litres of water
  • 24,150 kWh of energy
  • £5,300
Acting on our recommendations, hairdressers are now taught to shampoo once instead of twice, which is a massive saving in water and energy.
Professor of Sustainable Business

Professor Baden and colleagues worked with 20 salon owners to find out how hairdressing salons could save energy. They found that heating water is the most energy-intensive activity in a hair salon, even more than hair drying.

Hairdressers are in a unique position to combat climate change. As they chat to their clients while styling their hair, they have an ideal opportunity to highlight practical ways that individuals could adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

Award-winning impact

The project won the £10,000 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Celebrating Impact Prize 2018 for Outstanding Impact in Business and Enterprise.

The research is also having an international impact. Salon owners are completing the virtual training from countries including India, Malta, Mauritius, New Zealand and South Africa.

Denise says backing from the sector is important:

“My aim is for more and more salons to adopt our eco-friendly practises. A key factor in the programme’s success is support from the industry. I’m keen to continue working with industry partners such as the Vocational Training Charitable Trust to embed and promote these sustainable practises.”