Denise Baden, Professor of Sustainable Business University of Southampton 

“Hairdressers talk to more people than any other profession and so are in a great position to talk to their clients about sustainable haircare. Running hot water is one of the most energy intensive activities we do in our homes, so simple tips such as shampooing less often or just once rather than rinse and repeat can save lots of water and energy and also improve hair condition for those who routinely over-wash.”         
Professor Baden 

Denise Baden is Professor of Sustainable Business within Southampton Business School at the University of Southampton. Her prior research focused on ways to engage hairdressers in pro-environmental behaviours, embed sustainability in hairdressing curriculums, and integrate and promote sustainable solutions for the hair and beauty sector. This research informs the current study. 

Mirror Talkers is a 12 month pilot study to explore ways to reduce individual consumer carbon and water footprints related to haircare routines. In particular, it explores the effectiveness of small messages on hairdresser mirrors (ie Mirror Talkers) for engaging clients in conversations around sustainable haircare.


REDUCED INDIVIDUAL ENERGY AND WATER FOOTPRINTS through the promotion of research-based Eco Tips. Clients are educated on environmentally-friendly haircare practices and products as well as the corresponding water and energy savings and wellbeing benefits.

INCREASED AWARENESS of the water and energy footprints related to daily and weekly haircare routines. The study itself will draw attention to these topics but also articles, interviews and appearances in industry publications based on the study will bring more awareness.

EMPOWERING HAIRDRESSERS to confidently navigate conversations around sustainable haircare practices. By engaging in such conversations, hairdressers and their respective businesses can improve the integrity of the industry.


The Mirror Talkers study is partly funded by UK Research and Innovation and Green Salon Collective.

It is also supported by L’Oréal, Wella, Aveda and Toni & Guy.

Research Assistance is provided by Stephanie Hodgson.


Anne Veck Salon in Oxford // Barnes & Bray in Wandsworth, London // Bliss Hair Therapy in Birmingham // Crawford Hair in Milton Keynes // Geddes Salons in Ladywell and Mayfair, London // Gina Conway Salons in Fulham, Wimbledon, Notting Hill, Dorset and Hampshire // Hair FX in Tipperary Town, Ireland // Hunter Collective in Farringdon and Spitalfields // Karine Jackson in London // Masters of Craft in Leeds // OB1 Salon in Ireland // Redz Hairstylists in Beccles and Bungay // The Retreat in Wokingham // The Social London and Lake District // Bifolco & Matty in Langley


TRAINING. Participants will be given two to four mirror talkers based on their selection of Eco Tips. Each mirror talker will have a corresponding QR code which leads to the training they will need to navigate conversations around those Eco Tips. This is also where clients can go to learn more and to take the survey. Support will be provided to all participants during the ‘trialing’ phase which they can begin as soon as they receive the mirror talkers and training.

FEEDBACK. Each QR page will include a link to a survey for clients and a separate link for hairdressers. An example of feedback from clients would be how the conversation affected their haircare practices. Feedback from hairdressers might be whether they felt confident navigating those conversations. Surveys will invite clients and hairdressers to participate in one-to-one interviews to give further feedback.

ANALYSIS. The data will be mostly qualitative in the form of testimonials from clients and hairdressers.  This will be supplemented by brief survey questions that will enable us to quantify impacts and can inform the interview questions. Additional quantitative data will include the number of participants that selected specific Eco Tips which will be especially useful for knowing which ones to focus on.


ECO TIP 1 Most of us use too much shampoo and shampoo too often.

This is true. Most of us use too much shampoo and shampoo more often than is ideal or even necessary. Too much hot water and chemicals isn’t good for your hair condition, skin, planet or your bills.


ECO TIP 2 Running hot water is the most expensive and energy-intensive activity we do in our homes.

DYK that one of the most expensive and energy-intensive activities in your homes is running hot water? Heating water takes much more energy than heating air, so any steps you take to reduce the amount of hot water you use, reduces your carbon footprint as well as your energy and water bills.


ECO TIP 3 Showering too often or for too long can make skin dry and irritated.

Showering too often or for too long can make skin dry and irritated and make some skin conditions worse, especially if the showers are too hot.  Your hair and skin do not like too much hot water, hot air or chemicals!


ECO TIP 4 Should you shampoo less?

The answer is yes, probably. Most of us use too much shampoo and shampoo more often than is ideal or even necessary. Too much hot water and chemicals isn’t good for your hair condition, skin, planet or your bills.


ECO TIP 5 Do you always need to use conditioner?

The answer is, it depends.   Research at the University of Southampton asked those who normally use conditioner to try going without and report back on progress. 40% said it made no difference, 30% said their hair was less oily and didn’t need shampooing again so quickly and 30% said it was worse (too dry). So there is a 70% chance you don’t really need it.


ECO TIP 6 Should you always blow dry wet hair?

The answer is, not really. Salons need to blow dry your hair to get you in and out of there looking gorgeous as soon as possible. But you really don't need to blow dry your hair from wet every time you walk out of the shower....and your hair and wallet may be happier for it.


ECO TIP 7 Have you ever tried dry shampoo?

Using dry shampoo can transform your haircare routine. Some people use it as a way to boost a shampoo several days ago and others simply alternate shampoo and dry shampoo days. However you use it, it can have a significant impact on the condition of your hair, on your bills and on the environment!


ECO TIP 8 Have you ever tried leave-in conditioner?

There are many benefits to using leave-in conditioner including improving hair condition, saving on your utility bills and reducing your impact on the environment. If you haven’t already tried it, there’s no time like the present!


ECO TIP 9 Have you ever tried shampoo bars?

Shampoo bars are solid versions of traditional shampoos which typically contain 80% water. Rather than containing harsh chemicals, surfactants and detergents, shampoo bars are often made with natural oils, butters and gentle cleansers.


ECO TIP 10 True or false: Lots of hot water, air and chemicals is good for your hair and skin.

False! Too much of these is most definitely not good for your hair condition nor skin. Not to mention the planet or your bills! 


ECO TIP 11 True or false: You can use dry shampoo everyday.

False. There are many benefits of introducing dry shampoo to your haircare routine but it shouldn't be used every day. If you use it several days in a row, you can get build up, so it is better to use it every other shampoo or as a booster several days after a shampoo. 

ECO TIP 12 True or false: Washing hair everyday with shampoo and conditioner is good for the hair and scalp.

False! Most of us use too much shampoo and shampoo more often than is ideal or even necessary. A full haircare routine every single say means your hair and scalp are being exposed to too much hot water and chemicals.



Professor Baden's prior research involved filming short training videos showing conversations between hairdressers and clients around sustainable haircare practices. 

Advice to clients around shampooing less and ways to reduce energy bills. 2mins

Advice to clients around using dry shampoo. 2min

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