Beauty is turning green: The importance of sustainability in the beauty industry and its growing demand among Middle Eastern clients.

Promoting and encouraging sustainability in the beauty industry is a passion project for the team at VRBC, therefore it is only fitting that, as we approach the end of Earth Month with the theme of ‘Invest in our Planet’, we take the opportunity to highlight how salons can make sensible investments to protect our environment and in doing so, respond to the growing demand for more sustainability from our clients.

A sustainable approach to our industry starts by focusing on reducing waste, using products responsibly and selecting products that use responsible sourcing methods. This can all feel a little overwhelming, but with the incorporation of a few simple practices, you can be on your way to a more sustainable salon. 

Sustainability keeps customers happy

A compelling reason to embrace the sustainability mindset is to keep up with customer demands and improve customer sentiment. In a poll conducted by weDo/Professional, the sustainable professional arm of hair care brand Wella, 54% of consumers said they consider sustainability to be a key factor when buying beauty, hair and skin care products, with more than half of respondents (56%) believing it is important to look for products with recyclable packaging and 44% concerned about choosing products that are cruelty-free.

With clients becoming more environmentally conscious and more knowledgeable about the ingredients that are in products, salons need to respond in a positive way and provide sustainable options for clients to consider. For example, by selling paraben-free products, focusing on products that are good for society as well as good for the environment, and focusing on products that are sustainably and ethically sourced.

An emerging trend we have noticed is that clients are actively seeking new and unique products to try. These could be products that are quirky, artisanal or ‘fresh’ brands that make your salon stand out. Salon clients are seeking uniqueness so be ready to provide something that catches their interest.

Join the forerunners in protecting our planet

VRBC works with a large number of salon owners across the region and we can say without a doubt that the discussions around sustainability in salons are increasing. Owners are interested in how they can incorporate more sustainable practices into their salons. We see a sincere desire from business owners to be more sustainable, because of their own personal values around the environment.

Here in the UAE the trend is already underway with both smaller salons, like Zaaz Spa & Wellness and That Hair Though, as well as bigger players like Bedashing and The Grooming Company running sustainability campaigns. I hope to see this trend and movement escalate in the region.

Where to start?

It is vital that you bring your team onboard with any strategy you wish to implement, but it is especially important with a sustainability strategy, which has a much better chance of succeeding if they are onboard and supportive of the concept.

There are so many ways to start the sustainability journey. Some of the most popular efforts we already see in the market are active recycling and active reduction of water and energy consumption. We also see the incorporation of non-toxic and eco-friendly products into salon product ranges.

To encourage and assist you in your own journey, below are our top tips about where to start incorporating sustainable practices into your salon.

  1. Sort your salon waste for recycling

Sort foils, paper, plastic and hair. Yes, even hair can be recycled! Create sorting stations in your salon and encourage staff and clients to use them.

  1. Reduce water and energy consumption in your salon

We are living in one of the most water scarce countries and yet we have one of the highest water consumption levels in the world due to climate, population and income. UAE residents use up to 550 litres of water per day, a number that is 82% higher than the world average.

Considering that the average UAE salon uses 50,000 litres of water per day, salons are uniquely placed to have a significant impact on the preservation of water. Using efficient water shower heads at your basins and training staff not to leave water running while they mix or apply products is a solution that is easy to implement and which will save you money too.

Installing energy efficient light bulbs, or even motion detecting lighting, that switches off when there is no movement, will reduce your electricity bill. Winters in the Middle East bring beautiful temperatures and breezes, so opt to switch off the AC’s and open the windows or doors where possible.

  1. Incorporate organic or vegan products into your offering

Several salon beauty brands now offer organic or vegan options in their hair and skincare ranges, as well as reuse and refill product lines. These can be a key point of differentiation for a younger clientele and provides an opportunity for clients to return to your salon on a regular basis.

  1. Use sustainable and eco-friendly hair tools

Exchange hair foils (that can take up to 400 years to decompose) for biodegradable paper sheets. Consider buying your scissors from suppliers who actively give back such as Leaf Scissors, who plant a tree for every pair of scissors sold.

  1. Source ethically

Source high volume salon consumables like cotton wool, cotton buds, tissue and couch roll from manufacturers that use ethical employment practices and sustainable farming methods. Whenever possible, source biodegradable consumables.

  1. Use non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products in your salon

We can now choose from a wide selection of natural and effective cleaning products that are effective, smell incredible and are good for the environment. Try to replace some of the harsher chemical cleaning products you use in your salon with a biodegradable and sustainably sourced product instead.

  1. Offer fair-trade tea and coffee, water in recycled bottles or filtered tap water.

Delight your clients with a tea or coffee that is good for society and the planet! With several suppliers of fair-trade tea and coffee in the Middle East, it’s an easy switch to make. Encourage your clients to bring their own bottles of water, or offer to fill up their bottles with fresh, filtered water, reminding them why you are doing so will help to gain their support.

  1. Bring plenty of oxygen releasing plants into your salon or plant an insect or bee friendly garden.

Lush, healthy plants bring a special touch to any space but be sure to select plants that release oxygen during the day such as Aloe Vera, Snake Plant, Orchids and Peace Lily. If your salon is located in a villa, plant insect friendly plants in the garden and opt for a biodegradable and bee friendly insect spray.

  1. Tell your clients about what you are doing to support the environment and society as a whole!

Tell your clients what you are doing to be more sustainable and why you are doing it. Ask them for ideas and suggestions, and encourage them to take this journey with you. Your clients will appreciate your efforts and the opportunity to contribute to something that improves the world for us all.

  1. Collaborate with competitors

This may sound counter intuitive, however, as with coffee growers and fashion retailers, the beauty industry has an opportunity to collaborate with competitors to shift the industry as a whole towards a more sustainable future. Opportunities for collaboration can be combining recycling waste and contracting an industry recycling partner, coming together as an industry to shift policies at a local and government level or simply sharing knowledge and experience of our individual journeys towards a more sustainable future.

In conclusion, promoting sustainability in the beauty industry is not only essential for the environment but is also becoming increasingly important to clients. By implementing simple and effective sustainable practices salons can make a significant impact on the environment and attract more customers who value sustainability. With a growing trend towards sustainability, it is time for salons in the Middle East to embrace sustainable practices and make a positive impact on the planet.

As always, the team at VR Beauty Consulting will be ready to assist in any way to help salon owners and operators design and implement sustainability strategies.