A Cut Above

Photo: istock.com/kevinruss
Spoil yourself at one of Canada's green salons

Now you can add another indulgence to your eco-chic routine: a fabulous haircut at a modern, eco-conscious salon. All trends point towards their growing presence across Canada, for example, Vancouver’s Clover and Edmonton’s The Beauty Parlour, use haircare products that are easier on the environment (and, like Clover, are even furnished with recycled pieces).

Tyler Moore and business partner Franz David recently opened Parlour Salon in downtown Toronto, and from the start they’ve been getting buzz for their green practices—from the salon's dual-flush toilet to its low-toxin products. Hair clippings are shipped off to Matter of Trust, an organization that fashions hair mats to absorb the oil from animals caught in oil spills. “Many of our customers seek us out for being green,” says Moore, “and for the price of a hair cut, they get a little karma as well.”

Moore is following in the footsteps of Brian Phillips, creator of worldSALON, also in Toronto. The company's website details the many green initiatives it has taken since opening since 1989, such as installing solar panels to heat the water and joining WindShare, a local cooperative dedicated to supplying renewable electricity. In June 2007, the salon received a Certificate of Recognition from the Ontario Power Authority for reducing its power consumption by 50 percent. (Since then, it has been reduced by 76 percent.) Phillips also had a back door blasted into the walls of worldSALON, and the cross flow of air keeps the staff and customers cool. “We hardly ever turn on the AC in the summer,” he says.

Lotions and potions

It was a severe case of contact dermatitis Phillips developed during the early ‘90s that prompted him to make some major changes at work. Suspecting the chemicals found in perm neutralizing lotion were the problem, he stopped doing perms. He also developed his own line of beauty products, worldPRODUCTS, which became available for purchase online in June. They're free of parabens and artificial colours and fragrances, and they can be used interchangeably on the hair and body, thus reducing the number of products cluttering up one’s bathroom. Though fragrance-free, each product can be customized with 100 percent organic essential oils. At Parlour salon, Moore selected the paraben- and sulphate-free Kevin Murphy line of hair care products, wooed by the recyclable, refillable and downright sexy packaging. “It’s so durable and not designed to just be thrown away.”

To dye for

One salon treatment both Moore and Phillips have wrestled with is professional quality hair colouring. Although consumer brands free of harmful chemicals like p-phenylenediamine (PPD) and coal tar exist, a truly salon-quality brand remains elusive. “There’s nothing made right now that can give you the quality that people expect,” says Moore. “The science is not there just yet. But we’re trying our best.” He uses ammonia-free Wella colouring products at Parlour. worldSALON uses the La Biosthetique line from Germany, which uses little packaging and has a very low ammonia content. “When we do hair colours, people are amazed at how it doesn’t smell,” remarks Phillips. Phillips is also trying to develop an innovative method of doing highlights without foil. “We’ve been experimenting with fabric, wax paper and balayage, which is a form of hand painting. We go through a lot of aluminum foil every year and it’s a huge waste of resources. We’re committed to figuring it out by the fall and to stop using it altogether.”

On the map

So how do you locate a green salon in your area? One fairly new resource, founded in Toronto, promises to be useful: GoGreenSalon.com.  Managing director Sonia Carreno explains that for a membership fee of $200, salons can be listed in the worldwide directory; and, in addition to other perks, such as assistance with recycling and a white bin for hair clippings, they will receive a GoGreen decal to display at their location. The directory strives to include any salon that is taking steps towards greener methods, even small ones. “We’re not going to shake our fist at anyone for not listening to our advice. We want to keep it positive.”

If more establishments continue to follow the examples set by Phillips and Moore, there should be no shortage of salons to keep your coif looking killer and your conscience guilt-free.