MOP Hair wasn’t an eco-conscious salon when Shanti O’Hagen first opened over eight years ago. “I used whatever brands I wanted to work with. At home I was conscious of waste and sustainability, but I never thought to apply this to my business,” she says.
But two years after launching MOP Hair, Shanti fell seriously ill from an adrenal anomaly, making her very sensitive to chemicals. She had to wear a mask when she was dyeing clients’ hair.
“I was so self-conscious about it because people would ask me about the mask and I had to explain my sensitivity to the chemicals in the hair products and hair dyes. This made my clients anxious because these chemicals were going onto their heads.”
This was Shanti’s ‘Aha’ moment. She decided to flip her business model on its head by recycling all her salon bottle waste, offering paper and recycled bags for purchased items, and restocking her shelves with eco-friendly, cruelty-free hair products and dyes.
“The beauty industry is guilty of treating animals badly, producing plastic waste and toxic chemicals that pollute our water systems. I have control over what products my customers buy and I can use the time they’re with me to create awareness around eco-conscious products.”
She scouted for products without synthetic fragrances opting for those that use essential oils and animal-friendly, paraben- and sulphate-free and plant-derived ingredients.
A graduate in organic skincare formulation, Megan Cozens says that parabens are a preservative used in skincare and cosmetics to hinder the growth of micro-organisms in products, especially those that will have water introduced in the usage. “This helps with the shelf-life of the product, allowing products to last for months if not years.” But, she says, studies have shown that parabens can enter the body through the skin, and remain within body tissue. Megan, who is the founder of Plaiin Soap, advises consumers to educate themselves about ingredients. “Ultimately, you want a product with as few ingredients as possible. Simple, yet effective.” She says the more we care about what we put onto our bodies, the more it will be possible to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the environment.
While MOP is setting an example for other beauty businesses to transition to an eco-friendlier business model, Shanti says that MOP still has challenges. “Water usage and electricity usage remain challenges but we have fit our sinks with water-saving nozzles and are looking into alternative sources of electricity,” says Shanti.
“We need to find alternatives for the products that we can’t live without. We have shifted to a free-hand painting technique used in balayage to reduce the amount of foil used in the dyeing process,” says Shanti.
“We are working towards a 100% eco-conscious and sustainable salon.”
Eco-friendly hair products
Evo is a professional hair beauty product with a model that is based on transparency and truth. Evo is all about challenging the status quo and creating a base of freethinkers through honest products that respect people and the planet.
Kevin Murphy approached Shanti be stocked in her salon. Last year Kevin Murphy partnered with international company Pack Tech A/S which started the Ocean Waste Plastic (OWP) eco-initiative. The initiative is an innovative packaging model that takes plastic from the ocean and upcycles it into beautiful packaging. Kevin Murphy has dedicated his brand to making all their product packaging from 100% upcycled ocean plastic by the middle of last year. In doing this, they have become the first beauty brand in the world to take on this challenge. Through this eco-initiative, Kevin Murphy is saving the planet from around 326 580kgs of new plastics every year. The circular supply chain model looks like this:
In 2018, Kevin Murphy launched COLOR.ME, an ammonia-free, PPD-free (a chemical found in dyes to make the colour last longer) hair dye which meant that Shanti no longer had to wear a mask when dying hair.What stands out about Kevin Murphy’s products is the thought put into each step in the supply chain. Transit packaging has been reduced by designing bottles to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Davines is the most recent addition to the product offering at MOP. According to Shanti, it is also the most eco-conscious product that the salon stocks. The Italian brand is more reasonably priced than the Kevin Murphy range and is fully sustainable. All products are derived from ingredients cultivated by Italian farmers. Each product contains the name of the farm from which the ingredient comes which could be anything from turnip root extract to tomato extract. The dyes used in the packaging are chemical-free.
MOP Hair is at 9 Orphan Street, Cape Town