These days, sustainability is a zeitgeisty term applied to everything, from what we put in our mouths to what we wear and how we travel. For many years sustainable beauty products have had a reputation for being gluggy earth-smelling concoctions made from ingredients found in one’s fridge and pantry. But a range of brands is working to change that. Bare Beauty House in Manly, a new hair and beauty haven, is proving that “eco” and “luxe” don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
“Preachy hippie is totally not where we’re going,” owner Naomi Browner, who’s been in the hairdressing game for almost two decades, tells Broadsheet. Environmentally friendly practices have always been a focus for the hairdresser (she’s also worked in the UK and New York), whose love for the earth and animals comes a close second to her love for hair and self-care.
Bare Beauty House, which opened in September last year, is similar in looks and pricing to other luxe salons around Sydney. In addition to typical hair services – including haircuts, foils, balayage and blow-dries – Bare offers massages, facials, manis and pedis, body scrubs, mud wraps, and waxing. It uses “as natural as possible products” – Browner prefers to use products made using “plants, flowers and other natural elements, like pink salts, seaweed, Kakadu plum and aloe vera” – that aren’t tested on animals, and that come in recyclable packaging.
“Our skin is our biggest organ, but we put crap all over it. The same goes for hair. We’re not going to do that when you come in,” says Browner. She avoids using sodium laureth sulfate; polyethylene glycol; propylene glycol; parabens such as methyl, butyl, ethyl and propyl; phthalates such as dibutyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate; benzyl peroxide; and formaldehyde. She uses Kevin Murphy hair products due to the brand’s commitment to reducing plastic waste and cleaning up oceans (much of its packaging is made from reclaimed plastics). The salon also uses Eve Taylor skin, body and aromatherapy products. The company plants a tree for every product sold; doesn’t test on animals; and avoids parabens, phthalates, alcohols, formaldehyde and petrochemicals. Its packaging is also completely recyclable.
The salon uses showerheads that reduce water consumption by up to 65 per cent, and partners with Sustainable Salons, a not-for-profit that ensures none of the salon’s waste ends up in landfill.
Bare’s team of six also offers Ayurvedic, Swedish and facial massages, as well as cupping, lymphatic drainage and a cryotherapy treatment, which exposes the body sub-zero temperatures and is purported to have a range of (unproven) medicinal benefits.
The two-storey light-flooded space on a corner has big windows that wrap around the front and side. Some of the walls are exposed brick, some are painted mint green. The space was last a florist, and before that a house, and the salon has three rooms. The front two contain hairdresser chairs, and the back room (once a kitchen) has wash basins and still contains a century-old oven and chimney. Walk through and you’ll find yourself in the nail and make-up room, then in a pretty courtyard where you might sit with a tea or coffee, or a glass of sparkling wine while waiting for your (non-toxic) nail polish to dry or your new hair colour to take hold.
Upstairs – where facials and body treatments happen – is relaxing in a dimly lit, moodier sort of way.
Book in for a single appointment or treat yourself and make a morning or afternoon of it. “People are getting their nails done between getting [hair] colour, and having massages or facials, too,” says Browner.
Bare Beauty House
35 Pittwater Road, Manly
(02) 8593 0264
Wed & Thu 9am–9pm