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Hairdressers could have a vital role in spreading messages of sustainable living throughout their careers. A pioneering research project at the University of Southampton Business School has already successfully engaged stylists with issues such as energy costs and the excessive use of chemicals in the salon. Now Dr Denise Baden has secured a further grant to continue her research by working with hairdressing colleges and industry bodies to embed sustainability into learning materials and teaching.

The collaboration with hairdressers started in 2012 with a project to encourage them to consider ‘greener’ ways of working and spread the word about sustainable practices to their clients.

“Hairdressers understood the importance of sustainability and were very keen to work with us in the first project but many of them said we ought to talk to the trainees at the start of their careers,” says Denise. “We now have an opportunity to influence the entire sector and make sustainability the norm throughout the industry.”

Reducing the amount of strong chemicals used in processes such as dyeing and perming and saving energy used in heating water and drying hair are among the new ways of working suggested by Denise and her colleagues. “What’s good for the planet is also good for the hair,” she explains. “We found that very often using less product and lower temperatures improves styling and hair condition.” Her findings from the original study were that washing hair less frequently, using less shampoo, leaving to hair to dry naturally, and only blow-drying at the last minute, if necessary for styling were all good options to improve hair condition, save on bills and be green. Dry shampoo is also making a comeback and more and more people are discovering its benefits in terms of cost, speed and results. Check out the following for more information

Baden, D (2013) ‘What hairdressers can tell us about sustainability’ March. TEDx talk

Denise is also conducting research to provide some independent data on the effect of use/non-use of hair products on hair condition. She’s keen for volunteers so please click on any of the following links to take part and results will be available to all participants. Using less shampoo - leave an extra day between shampoos and report on results, Dry shampoo study - simply substitute dry shampoo for one wash , Give up conditioner for one (or more) wash and report on results