Eco-Friendly Living

How To Become An Eco-Friendly Hair Salon: 18 Tips

[SPONSORED POST] When you’re getting a new hairdo, you might not be considering the environmental impact or whether you’re in an eco-friendly salon. Sadly, there is quite a lot of waste when it comes to hair care, from single-use plastic gloves and aluminum hair foils to high electricity and water use. 

In 2020, more than 63 million Americans used hair colouring products. Although a pair of gloves doesn’t seem like much waste, these things do add up. 

Not to mention, the materials already have an environmental impact before they’re even used. Both plastic and metal are sourced via mining, which is highly polluting, and are non-renewable. So, with that said, you might be searching for ways to become an eco-friendly hair salon.

How To Become An Eco-Friendly Salon

1. Use Biodegradable Products

a stylist cleaning a clients hair
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Single-use products like gloves are unavoidable in hair salons, but you can be more mindful of your choices. Eco Gloves offers biodegradable nitrile gloves that are perfect for sustainable salons, and are a direct replacement to traditional disposable gloves.  

One of the downsides of many biodegradable products is they can only break down in industrial composting facilities, not household compost bins or landfills. With  Eco Gloves, the gloves are coated with a bio-agent formula that is activated in a landfill. The formula attracts microorganisms that break the gloves down by 90% in 490 days. In comparison, standard nitrile gloves can take up to 100 years, or more, to break down.

2. Switch To Greener Hair Dyes

Many eco-friendly salons switch to vegan hair dyes. While this makes the salon more inclusive, it’s also more sustainable since these kinds of dyes generally use more plant-based ingredients compared to regular ones. 

Is Hair Dye Eco-Friendly?

a stylist mixing hair dye as part of eco-friendly salon guide
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One of the more glaring questions about salon sustainability is whether hair dye is eco-friendly. There is limited research on the impact of hair dye on the environment, but it isn’t looking good. The big concerns are bleach and ammonia. 

Ammonia is toxic to marine life. Although the water from your shower or sink goes through wastewater treatment plants, these may not always be fully efficient. It’s best to limit what’s being flushed down the drain rather than assuming the treatment plants will always take care of it.

Eco-Friendly Hair Dyes

Lots of brands offer greener hair dyes with less harsh ingredients these days. You can usually find them in health stores. 

These include:

  • Herbatint
  • Naturtint 
  • Tints Of Nature

I’ve used a Herbatint semi-permanent before and was pretty happy with the results. 


You can also consider blocks of henna dye, which are plastic-free and zero waste – although you’ll still need to use gloves. You can still find reds, browns, and blacks.

I used this for a long time to keep my hair black – but one thing I will say, is henna and bleach are not believed to react well. So, only use henna if you’re committed to your colour.

Coffee Grounds
a glass full of coffee grounds
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For a darker hue, you can make a hair mask with coffee grounds. The colour builds up after a few uses. 

Prior to dying my hair black, I started to darken it using coffee grounds. It took me from medium brown to dark brown. I’m not sure how this would look on blondes or redheads, so I only recommend this for brunettes looking to go darker. 

3. Go Paperless 

a crumpled receipt
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You should consider going paperless or reducing paper use if you want your salon to be more sustainable.

Although paper is recyclable, it’s not as easy as putting something in a recycle bin and never thinking about it again. Most receipts are not recyclable because of the ink or a plastic-like coating on them. Plus, the recycling process is not carbon neutral – it’s greener than making new products from scratch, but there is still some environmental impact. For this reason, the best thing you can do is avoid using unnecessary items in the first place. 

For exposure, try to amp up social media promotion to reduce your reliance on flyers and business cards. For special events, you can consider seed paper and encourage customers to plant their cards.  

4. Switch To Renewable Electricity 

One of the bigger things that contribute to a hair salon’s carbon footprint is electricity use. Salons need to power bright lights, hair dryers, and other appliances. 

To be greener, consider switching to renewable electricity. If that’s not an option, try to rely more on natural lighting and use energy-efficient light bulbs. 

You can also install motion sensors so the lights only come on when necessary.

5. Use Low-Waste Products  

a refillable shampoo bottle as part of eco-friendly salon guide
Image by Sarah Chai on

Salon shampoos and conditioners are usually of higher quality than the products the average person uses at home. So, at this time, there may not be a whole lot of zero-waste shampoo or conditioner bars for salons to choose from.

Instead, a sustainable hair salon can use low-waste or refillable products to reduce waste. This usually entails keeping sturdy, recyclable aluminum bottles in the salon and returning them to a store or sending the bottle back to the brand for a refill. 

6. Use Bamboo Products 

Most combs and hair brushes are made from plastic, which is unsustainable.

Bamboo is rising as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic and wood. Bamboo grows much quicker than wood – while trees take decades to mature, bamboo stalks grow a few inches in a day, so it’s easier to replenish. Depending on the varnish used, these products may be compostable at the end of their life. 

7. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

You also need to consider the impact of the products you use to clean the hair salon at the end of the day. Many commercial cleaning products contain harsh ingredients like bleach, synthetic dyes derived from coal tar, and more. 

These products can cause air pollution and escape further into the environment from wastewater or spills.

Like hair dyes, there are brands that offer more sustainable cleaning products. These include:

  • Cheeky Panda
  • Kinn
  • Tru Earth
  • Bio D

You can also use natural cleaners like apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda to keep your stations sparkling. 

8. Switch To Eco-Friendly Hair Spray

a hairstylist combing hair
Image by Maksim Goncharenok on

Although aerosol products like hair spray no longer contain ingredients that harm the ozone layer, there are still some environmental concerns.

Each time you spray these, there are emissions; more than 90% of these are Volatile Organic Compounds, also known as VOCs. These compounds can cause air pollution. Plus, some of the other ingredients in hair spray can be harmful too. 

For this reason, you might consider switching to powder-based hair sprays. 

9. Donate Unused Products & Equipment

The most eco-friendly product is the one you don’t buy. So, it’s not more sustainable to ditch existing products and buy new, greener versions as you’re still generating waste. Instead, you should use these products before buying something new or donating them. 

Plenty of women’s shelters will accept “luxury” items like hair spray or shampoo. 

10. Consider Second-hand Décor

It’s only human to want a pretty salon with a cohesive theme. To be more sustainable, consider sourcing secondhand decorative items.

If you’re redecorating, donate your old bits and pieces to a thrift store. 

11. Intentional Internet Usage

a woman typing on a laptop
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Although you wouldn’t think it, internet use has an environmental impact too – from the electricity powering our devices to cloud storage. Sending emails has a carbon footprint, which can be reduced by deleting them as they’re no longer taking up space. The downside is your laptop and computing are still using electricity while you do this.

So, rather than bulk deleting emails, instead be mindful of internet usage, the emails you send, and only use these devices when at the salon when you really need them. 

12. Get A Compost Bin

Human hair is compostable, but most salons throw it away. You can gather hair in the back of the salon and send it to composting facilities.

13. Be Mindful Of Water Use

High water usage is unavoidable in salons as you need to wash bleach and colour out of your client’s hair. In order to be more sustainable, reduce the temperature – within reason – and only use as much water as you need. 

14. Use Paper Foils

a hair dresses putting bleach on hair foils as part of eco-friendly salon guide
Image by Nataliya Vaitkevich on

Most salons use Cyran wrap or aluminum foil when bleaching hair. A more sustainable option is to switch to paper foils.

Although the dye means you can’t recycle or biodegrade these foils, they are still a greener option since paper is renewable. 

15. Dispose Of Waste Carefully

a green compost bin, a red waste bin, and a yellow recycle bin
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At the end of a long day, you probably don’t feel like sorting waste into its respective bins or washing out empty containers. However, thanks to “wishcycling,” people put non-recyclable items in the recycling bin, hoping for the best. Sadly, this means most of the contents that get put in recycling bins aren’t actually recycled. 

So, it’s something worth doing right. 

16. Donate To Charity

An eco-friendly salon can host a fundraiser several times a year or donate a portion of their profits to climate charities. If these aren’t feasible, you can place a donation bucket in a visible place in the salon, so your customers can choose how much they’d like to donate.

Climate charities include:

  • Arctic Ice Project
  • Rainforest Action Network
  • The Maine Conservation Society
  • One Tree Planted
  • The World Bee Project

You can donate hair, extensions, and products to:

  • The Little Princess Trust
  • Project Beauty Share
  • Animal shelters, and rescues*

*Many animal shelters, vets, and rescues accept hair brushes but always check with them first before dropping anything off. 

 17. Educate Your Clients

Your clients will have to maintain their new look at home. So, a sustainable hair stylist will suggest green hair care tips to clients.

18. Become A Certified Sustainable Salon

One of the biggest things an eco-friendly salon can consider is becoming a Green Circle Salon. North American businesses can ship salon waste, like hair clippings and empty bottles, to Green Circle Salons, and they will give it a new life. Up to 95% of salon waste is recovered. 

They will also offset your carbon emissions, meaning your business is carbon neutral. 

Or Join The Green Salon Collective

If you’re in the UK or Ireland, an eco-friendly salon can join the Green Salon Collective. Like Green Circle Salons, you can send your waste to this initiative. The Green Salon Collective also offers carbon-offsetting services. 

a salon with black chairs Infront of full lenght mirrors as part of eco-friendly salon guiee
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8 Eco-Friendly Hair Care Tips For At Home

a zero-waste shampoo bar
Image by Sarah Chai on

While making salons sustainable is important, it’s also vital to be conscious about how you take care of your hair at home between appointments. Here are some eco-friendly hair care tips:

  1. Switch to zero-waste shampoo and conditioner bars
  2. Use biodegradable gloves when dying your hair
  3. Make hair masks with food waste and biodegradable items, like bananas and coffee grounds
  4. Use bamboo hair brushes and combs
  5. Take cooler showers
  6. Replace hair gel with coconut oil
  7. Dry your hair with old cotton t-shirts 
  8. Avoid aerosol sprays – use powder-based dry shampoo

Eco-Friendly Hair Salon FAQs 

Why Do Hair Stylists Use Gloves?

Hair stylists wear gloves to protect their hands from staining and harsh chemicals in hair products. 

What Are The Best Gloves For Dying Hair?

Biodegradable nitrile gloves are the best gloves for dying hair. They’re sturdy enough to protect hair stylists’ hands but still allow for precision. 

What Are The Best Biodegradable Gloves?

Eco Gloves are the best biodegradable gloves. This is because the bio-agent formula on the gloves helps them to break down in landfills.

Should You Get Compostable Products If You Can’t Compost Them?

Compostable products need certain conditions to break down, like the correct temperature, humidity, etc. So, while most products won’t break down in landfill, they are a step in the right direction because they are made from renewable materials. 

Can You Use Nitrile Gloves For Dying Hair?

Nitrile gloves are a great option for dying hair as they protect the hairdresser’s hands but are not so thick you cannot cut and colour precisely. 

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