12-Feb-2018

Rethinking your hair care products

As we embrace healthier lifestyles and become more conscious of chemicals in our foods and environment, it’s important to also consider what we are putting into our bodies through our skin and hair.

With hair care products and dyes known for their chemical-laden formulations (check out this article by Choice), it’s helpful to know what you are dealing with when buying products, or visiting your hairdresser.


Tenille Lawrence, hairdresser and owner of the Little Birdie Hair Co is on a mission to create awareness about the toxins in hair care products, and their impacts.

After becoming sick from chemical exposure when she was pregnant with her first child, Tenille became passionate about reducing chemicals in her body and work.

“Over 20 years in the industry, I observed the amount of chemicals hairdressers are exposed to every day and our customers are exposed to those too. Add to that the huge amount of waste generated by salons that ends up in landfill and it’s a massive footprint. I wanted to do something to change the model,” Tenille said.

Specialising in blonde balayage and colour correction, Little Birdie Hair Co was established in Wynnum West in 2015, with a second salon opened in Maroochydore in late 2017. Both salons use non-toxic, lower chemical products and are completely waste free.

Products used by Little Birdie Hair Co must meet strict standards, developed by Tenille after months of research:

  • lower chemical content
  • naturally sourced ingredients
  • recyclable packaging
  • biodegradable
  • Australian made
  • vegan friendly
  • low ammonia
  • no sodium lauryl sulphate or sodium laureth sulphate

The model is proving a hit with customers, including people with chemical sensitivities and those who have undergone treatment for cancer.

“It means a lot for cancer patients to be able to have a treatment and look good, but know they are not overloading their body with toxic chemicals from the products used,” said Tenille.

Achieving zero waste was made possible though in-salon initiatives and a partnership with , an organisation that collects and recycles chemicals, metals, paper, plastic, razors and even hair from salons across the country.

“We separate all chemicals into buckets which are collected by Sustainable Salons Australia, treated then turned back into water that can be sold for gardens. The hair is collected and used for booms that soak up oil spills in the ocean,” Tenille said.

While more people are becoming interested in lower toxin haircare products, they can be difficult to find, as mainstream brands available in the supermarket are not keeping pace with consumer demand.

Tenille’s advice is to look beyond supermarkets for hair care products, and conduct your own assessment of ingredients. She says it is possible to find products that tick all the boxes that do not cost any more than chemical-laden options.

“We are seeing people generally choosing better options for their health. What is the point of clean living with healthy foods and exercise but not thinking about what you are putting into your body through your skin and hair?”

Tenille’s top 4

How to choose lower toxin hair care products

  1. Research product ingredients online and know what they are (the article from Choice on hair dyes is a helpful start). With this knowledge, you can make your own decisions on what chemicals you are prepared to put onto your body.
  2. When purchasing products, read the ingredients on back of bottle. Be aware that some companies are changing the names of ingredients such as ammonia so they are more difficult to identify.
  3. Avoid products that are not biodegradable and those that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and high volumes of synthetics such as silicones.

To locate a Sustainable Salon near you, look check out the Sustainable Salons Store Locator.

Share Your Experience

Share Article: