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Exclusive: Can The Beauty Industry Really "Go Green"? Salon Owner Gemma Sandercock Shares Her Thoughts

When you picture a beauty salon, you probably envisage a number of eco-unfriendly items. Hairspray being pumped ten to the dozen, the harsh smell of nail acrylics as they're molded into being, and the basket full of plastic Q-tips tucked neatly in a corner. Let's face it, beauty isn't always about being kind to the planet - but it could be. This is 2018 after all, and the emphasis on saving Mother Earth has never been stronger. But with all of the products required for everyday treatments like a fresh set of nails or a head full of foils, is there really any way for salons to truly "go green"? We talked to salon owner Gemma Sandercock about her quest to turn her business into an eco-friendly wonderland.

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Initially, it was Gemma's love for her Shihpoo dog Poppy that made her start to think about the horrors of animal testing. "I couldn’t imagine anything or anyone hurting her," says the hairstylist.  "I then thought about how many animals get harmed for our sake. Every time I took out a mascara or shampooed my hair, I googled the brand I was using and I was so shocked at how many brands aren’t cruelty-free and how many claim to be, yet they still sell to China." While most big beauty brands sell their products in China, the country requires all products to be tested on animals before they hit the shelves. After exploring the ins and outs of cruelty-free products, Gemma started to branch out into vegan, eco-friendly and organic brands.

It didn't take her long to feel that she had a responsibility to change her salon ethic. "I found a hair color brand that was all of the above and totally fell for them. I realized after doing my research just how much plastic was floating in our oceans. It's so sad to see what our world has become, so how could I not change my business and my personal life?"

When it comes to changing her products, the nail artist extraordinaire was pleasantly surprised with how smooth the transition was, praising her clients for being so accepting of the change. Among some of her eco-friendly items are organic sustainable dyes and hair products, presented in glass bottles to cut back on plastic waste. Gemma also offers a refill station for clients, where they can bring back their empties and get them topped up in exchange for a 20% discount. Rather than using standard paper towels, the salon now uses Simply Dry biodegradable towels made out of 100% bamboo.

Gemma is still working to make all of her services eco-friendly, but she has shown that salons don't have to leave behind an ugly amount of waste to make their clients beautiful. When it comes to other beauticians following suit, she offers up some sage words of advice. "There's nothing to be worried about! Just make sure you do your research and test the products on some willing clients first, before you commit. It's not cheap to start with, but it will help your business in the long run."

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