This summer, beauty experts have sprung upon us a bigger, better idea. New age beauty salons are bypassing high-tech gadgetry, chemicals and surgical skin advancements for treatments that are big on ethical excellence. Ayurveda expert, Shahnaz Husain says, "While the cosmetic industry in India witnessed an upswing in the past decade with procedures like chemical peels promising instant results, the new trend is to go back to natural methods used with a scientific approach."
While franchise India pegs the natural beauty services industry at Rs. 13,200 crore, non-invasive treatments like laser, fillers and Botox are now worth about 400 crore. Ravi Aggarwal, director, Toxic Links says, "A salon is a high-end consumption area of carbon footprints. Everything from palm oil used in soap to unrecyclable chemicals can add to environmental hazards. Even a hair dryer run for a minute uses 1500 watts of energy." Research by WHO shows that 30 percent of all urban buildings, including salons, are affected by contaminated air. Unsurprising considering that it takes 400 years for a material like aluminum foil, widely used in salons, to break down naturally and that the energy saved from recycling one foil can run a TV for three hours. Accordingly, salons are becoming more conscious of their carbon footprint. The canopy roof of the Imperial salon in Delhi ensures there is enough natural light and its rooms are fitted with CFLs that use 75% less energy. Jacqualine Tara Herron, director, Imperial salon, says, "We don't do any injectibles or electrolysis as the chemicals can be non-bio-degradable. The emphasis is on natural rejuvenation, but it is a far cry from, say, a mustard oil massage. Advanced formulations like pure collagen derived from apple pectin is used for benefits that last longer."
Salons now also emphasise the feel-good factor. At the salon at Oberoi Gurgaon, clients can enjoy a glass of their favourite organic wine while they get their nails buffed and at Blliis, the French patisserie tucked inside the salon, serves fair trade organic coffee and macaroons." Alka Katar, the manager at R, the spa at Radisson, says, "We encourage clients to try our all-vegetarian spa menu. Also, post the hair spa, we don't use the blow dryer, just a gentle natural mist to ensure energy conservation."
Mona Anand, from B:Blunt salon says, "We don't do any plastic hair extensions. We recycle natural hair to be used as extensions." Charoo Chawla of Blliis highlights that though the 'green' services are high-end, they are thoughtfully so. "We get clients who are particular even about whether the salon's candles are organic and free of paraffin or chemicals that can be toxic when burnt."
The nobel prize-winning discovery by American scientists of the telomere, a bit of DNA at the end of the chromosome in the skin, is being used to arrest ageing. Shahnaz Husain says, "We are using stem cells from jasmine and gardenia to create a formulation that repairs the skin's telemeres. The facial uses no gadgets or toxic chemicals."
Expert View: Environment expert Ravi Aggarwal says, "While cutting on gadgets will conserve energy, one has to be sure that the organic herbs are fair trade for actual benefits to the environment.
Price: Rs. 3800, Where: Shahnaz Signature Salon, Kohinoor Mall, Greater Kailash.
All organic colour
Soya oil is used instead of ammonia, a harmful chemical used commonly during hair colouring. Expert View: Aggarwal says, "Replacing ammonia is a good idea as it toxic and presents disposal problems. One needs to check if soy is grown in a sustainable way."
Price: Rs. 2200 onwards Where: Blliis by Ravissant, New Friends Colony.
Natural hair extensions
Instead of plastic extensions, 100% recycled human hair is used for extensions. No synthetic material or chemicals emitting fumes are used
Expert View: In the US, 135 million pounds of hair is cut every year. Reusing it can prevent the use of a lot of synthetic fibre made from plastic.
Price: Rs. 400 per extension Where: B:blunt salon, M block, GK 2
Collagen quench back rub
The massage is like Botox for the back, minus any chemicals involved. Natural fruit derived pectins are used in scientific formulations and massaged manually to give a taut, radiant back.
Expert View: Aggarwal says, "Botox can be harmful for the human body if the doses are not monitored. If natural products can substitute the same results there's no harm to look into it."
Price: Rs. 5500 Where: The Imperial Salon, Janpath
Sabai stone therapy
Black granite stones are used along with natural antiseptic like lavender, neroli for total relaxation. The oils are organic and the energy consumed is minimal as all movements are manual.
Expert View: Neha Pradhan, who works on environment issues at Swecha India says, "Restricting the use of gadgets conserves energy. Something as simple as unplugging the appliances when not in use saves energy so it's a positive step."
Price: Rs. 3800 Where: R the spa, Radisson Hotel