News, Culture & Society

BEAUTY CLINIC: One big green leap for hair care

Jo and Sarah answer real questions from readers: to put your query, go to 

Q Each month, I’m trying to make one sustainable, clean, green shift to my beauty regime. Switching to a shampoo bar seemed an easy option. Wrong! My very thick hair absorbs any product like a sponge and even after I rinsed, rinsed and rinsed again (not very green using that much water), my hair was dull and slightly gummy feeling. Is there any decent shampoo out there in packaging that could be considered green?

A Firstly, congratulations on setting out to tackle the ‘mountain of plastic bottles’ in your bathroom. Secondly, we know the problem with shampoo bars. To be fair, they seem to suit men with short hair pretty well. But, brilliant as they are packaging-wise, they just don’t do the biz for thick long hair in our experience. (We hope to be proved wrong at some point.)

The good news is that even before David Attenborough made it impossible for anyone to ignore the plastic problem in our oceans, a significant number of companies were working on the issue of greening their packaging, both in terms of aiming for minimum plastic/plastic-free and general sustainability. Now these concerns are top of many beauty company agendas.

When it comes to hair care, we’d hazard a guess that Aveda blazed the trail for green, clean and sustainable. Austrian hairdresser Horst Rechelbacher, the son of a herbalist, started the natural hair products line way back in 1978 after he linked his ill health to the products he was using on clients’ hair. Today Aveda’s environmental mission is stronger than ever in many ways including packaging. More than 85% of their hair and skin care products contain 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials, which can in turn be recycled (which is what we would aim for). Read all about Aveda packaging here. 

Among some great corporate initiatives is L’Occitane’s Recycling Programme in partnership with TerraCycle ®. Customers can recycle beauty empties – L’Occitane or any beauty brand – at any of the L’Occitane boutiques. See their hair care line up here.  

Other notably good hair care products with bright green credentials include Paradoxx, a new, up to 97% natural range housed in aluminium – apparently the only material that can be recycled indefinitely. It does have a plastic pump, which you can recycle after you’ve removed the metal spring – with a nutcracker, they recommend! Find Paradoxx at 

The plant ingredients in Rahua’s gorgeous formulas ( are not only wild harvested in virgin Amazonian rainforest but the plastic packaging is 100% recyclable, they say: ‘re-used to make everything from park benches and designer carpets to clothing and lots more’.

Italian company Davines, which specialises in hair care (wonderful, btw), is propelled by ‘a vision of sustainable beauty, combining cutting-edge chemistry with respect for society and the environment’. Davines has been awarded B Corp certification, granted for its satisfactory social and environmental performance.

Although REN is known primarily for skincare, the brand has a lovely range of hair products. The company’s goal is zero waste by 2021, with 100% recyclable packaging, refillable containers and the use of reclaimed ocean plastic. Like other campaigning brands, REN has teamed up with a global activist partner (Surfrider, in this case), to clean up beaches and oceans worldwide. 

There are other things that may interest you, such as the nature of the ‘fluffy bits’ that come with mail order products. Green People, for instance, do not use polystyrene chips in any packaging for their effective natural hair care range (or indeed for any of their products), opting instead for bobbly bits made of 100% biodegradable corn starch. 

Of course, there are other good ranges of green, clean, sustainable hair care but these are products that we know and use ourselves and can hand on heart recommend.

Beauty Bible loves… 

Look Good Feel Better box, £25. 

Beauty boxes are just brilliant intros to products before you swing for the full size. But there’s another very, very good reason to treat yourself to this one – because a whopping £20 of the £25 price goes to one of our favourite charities, Look Good Feel Better.

Beauty boxes are just brilliant intros to products before you swing for the full size. But there’s another very, very good reason to treat yourself to this one – because a whopping £20 of the £25 price goes to one of our favourite charities, Look Good Feel Better

This incredibly worthwhile organisation offers self-confidence and makeover workshops (now for men, too) who are undergoing cancer treatment. It’s exclusive to Debenhams in a limited edition that’s been on sale for some time but only just made it onto our radar – so make it snappy.

What will you find inside? Worth £80, there’s a full-size gorgeous red MAC Liptensity Lipstick (in Fire Roasted); a Smashbox Photo Finish Primerizer (15ml), Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair (25ml), GlamGlow THIRSTYMUD Hydrating Treatment Mask (15g), Clinique High Impact Mascara (3.5ml) and a 15ml size of Estée Lauder DayWear Antioxidant Moisturiser SPF15 (a long-term fave of ours). Brand-spotters will note that all the above sit under the umbrella of Estée Lauder Companies, who deserve a shout-out for generously donating these products. (As do Debenhams, who aren’t making anything out of the box – the fiver covers the cost of the box itself.)

And is there a better excuse to give yourself a little treat than knowing it’s going to give someone else a treat, too…?