Clean Haircare: What You Need To Know
More Clients Seeking Clean Beauty: Here’s How You Can Help Them
With words like “natural,” “clean” and “green” appearing on products more and more, it’s time to educate yourself—especially because your clients rely on you for your expertise. We’re taking a deep dive into non-toxic haircare with the help of expert Natalie Palomino, founder of North Authentic. Keep reading for everything you need to know!
What is non-toxic, clean or “conscious” haircare?
Conscious haircare means products that use non-toxic ingredients and sustainable packaging. North Authentic is an online retailer and salon specializing in these types of products, and the retailer puts every product it sells through rigorous testing to ensure the products perform at optimum levels while being good for humans AND the environment.
Why should I be interested in non-toxic haircare?
Nearly half of women are already using clean beauty products, according to a Harper’s Bazaar poll. And the largest growing sector of the “wellness economy” is personal care and beauty, according to WWD. Living amid COVID-19, consumers are more concerned than ever about what’s going in and on their bodies.
As owner of North Salon in Corona Del Mar, Calif., Natalie started to focus on hair products with non-toxic ingredients after learning about how many endocrine-inhibiting chemicals and other potentially health-hazardous ingredients can be found in hair products.
“As I learned more about clean beauty, I noticed that haircare had really been ignored,” Natalie shared. “The focus has been on skin care. This is a huge miss as the scalp is actually one of the most absorbent parts of your body—more than your face, legs and arms. So basically your scalp is a large sponge that soaks up whatever you put on it (i.e. enters your bloodstream).”
Are products labeled “natural” or “eco-friendly” considered non-toxic?
Labels like “clean,” “green,” etc. aren’t regulated at all. Brands know there is a huge market for conscious haircare, so many are using labels like these to attract buyers without having to prove what’s really in the products. Basically, anyone can make a claim that a product is “clean” without any oversight. And get this—the European Union has banned more than 1,000 chemicals commonly found in personal care products, while the U.S. has only banned 11.
“These words have become used as weapons to gain market share, but when you look closer, the products are filled with toxins,” Natalie said.
If clients really wanted to use products that are “free of” specific chemicals, it would require a lot of research and label-reading—and let’s be real, not many people want to do that. For example, there are five terms alone that mean “parabens,” and the average consumer isn’t going to know all five of those terms. “This overwhelming task leads to many consumers blindly trusting product labels that say ‘All-Natural,’ in an effort to make healthier choices, while not realizing that the product actually contains harmful ingredients,” Natalie said.
So to remove the work for the guests in her own salon, Natalie started intense research and only carrying retail products that are free of the major toxic ingredients on North Authentic’s Barred Ingredients List. As her business has evolved, the North Authentic online retail site continues to carry truly conscious haircare, and also identifies and organizes products based on ingredient preference, such as vegan, organic, silicone-free, nut-free or gluten-free.
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What are some ingredients that cannot be in any conscious haircare product, and how do I know what these ingredients are?
After a lot of research, North Authentic created a database of all toxic ingredients and their potential names, then sought out haircare brands that are free of those ingredients. However, this hasn’t been easy, as few brands are truly “clean.”
“We realized in order to offer more choices to our customers, we were going to have ease our requirements while we advocate for brands to reformulate. We found that some extremely common ingredients, like Phenoxyethanol and Synthetic Fragrance, are in 99 percent of haircare lines,” Natalie said. “We know that not every customer is as diehard as others, so we decided it would be best to offer the ‘almost’ cleanest options while we task brands with reformulating by 2022.”
“We know that most brands are going to catch on to the world’s demand for non-toxic ingredients, but that type of reformulation can take months or years. We wanted to ensure we support those fighting the good fight, but give them the time to make those changes,” she added.
Plus, remember that there is little regulation for the haircare market, so it’s not required for brands to list ingredients on their packaging. “To ensure we are giving our customers more than just a pinky swear, we randomly choose 10 products per year and have them tested to ensure whatever is in the bottle is also on the label,” Natalie said. This oversight testing is unique to North Authentic.
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Do conscious products perform well in salon environments?
As a hairdresser and salon owner, Natalie knew the performance of conscious products had to be stellar, or people wouldn’t want to use them. That’s why part of North Authentic’s approval process involves testing potential products in the salon on clients, friends and family to ensure the products deliver on what they promise.
“Our products are the highest performing products on the market, so the non-toxic portion of the hair care is really an added bonus for those not already versed in conscious products,” Natalie said.
Some of the brands North Authentic has vetted and carries include:
- Cult + King
How do I know if a client is interested in non-toxic products?
As with all good appointments, this starts with the consultation. “I practice and believe that every appointment should start with a conversation between the guest and stylist. What is the guest experiencing with her hair? What are her goals for the appointment?” Natalie shared. “Hairdressers should feel confident in educating their guest on how to care for their hair.”
Just because a guest doesn’t say she is looking for conscious haircare doesn’t mean she isn’t interested. Because the conscious haircare carried by North Authentic is so rigorously tested, the hairdressers at Natalie’s salon are confident that they are recommending the highest performing products.
“I always say that we are just the verbal version of the ‘after-care tag’ in your clothing. If you didn’t know how to care for that expensive cashmere sweater, it likely wouldn’t look new for long. The same goes for a cut or color service,” Natalie said.
Bottom line: Talk to your client. She WANTS to listen to you, and she’s probably already been reading about clean beauty. “I inform every guest that I am going to tell them what I am using throughout their service and why. Then I ask, ‘Is that okay with you?’ The answer is always an excited ‘Yes!’ You don’t have to ever ‘sell’ anything. Just educate your guest on how to care for their hair and color to ensure it looks great. When you come from a place of knowledge, you quickly become a trusted expert. Your guest will take care of the rest,” she said.
If I want to start using and retailing conscious haircare, how should I get started?
While it may seem daunting to understand the many ingredients to watch for and how to vet the products, the good news is that North Authentic is doing that for us! The retailer has an affiliate program to make your job as simple as possible—AND we have a code to join the program for 50% off!
The details of the affiliate program:
- The relationship starts with a Welcome Kit that walks you through the FAQs and sign-up info for your personal webpage.
- You’ll receive 40% off personal backbar and styling products.
- Your personal dashboard will give you a reference link to share with guests, family and friends, plus a way to track your sales and commission totals, AND promotional materials you can use in your salon.
- Once someone purchases products with your personal link, you earn commission.
- You’ll also have access to product knowledge webinars and business courses!
A solo hairdresser can join the Pro Ambassador Program for a $50 yearly fee to receive all these benefits. Salon owners can also invite their staff to become Ambassadors under their salon with a Team Sign Up link, which gives team members AND the owner commission on retail sales.
This program makes it simple for you to earn retail dollars even when you’re not behind the chair, and can help you double your customer retention. Interested in becoming a North Authentic Pro Ambassador? Receive 50% off the yearly fee with code: BTC (expires Nov. 15, 2020). Click here to become a Pro Ambassador!
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How can I make sure I am knowledgeable about clean, conscious haircare?
Doing your own research and utilizing the information available is key to becoming knowledgable about conscious haircare—and North Authentic makes that info easy to obtain. Pro Ambassadors receive access to live product knowledge webinars with brand educators as well as business building courses on everything from retailing to service goal setting and marketing.
Pro Ambassadors also get hair texture/type/concern cheat sheets, so you can reference them whenever you need a recommendation based on what a guest is experiencing or wants to achieve. Plus, you can share North Authentic’s online quiz with your guest for personalized answers before she purchases from your referral link!