James cutting hair at WhiP Hackney (Picture: WhiP Hackney)

For many, being vegan is a lifestyle choice, not just a dietary choice.

Not only do we shun animal products in the fridge, but we have to keep an eye out for them in beauty products, too.

It’s easy enough find things like vegan cleansers, vegan moisturisers and vegan eye creams, but how can you be sure that your hairdresser is using vegan shampoo and conditioner on you?

Going to the hairdresser can be a minefield as a vegan, it really can.

While there aren’t many 100% vegan hair salons, more and more salons are wising up and offering vegan hairdressing services – including vegan colour, hurrah – which takes the worry out of your mind.

We wanted to show how choosing a vegan cut and colour doesn’t mean compromising on quality – whatever you can have done with non-vegan products, you can have done with vegan ones -so we sent a mixed bag of vegan and non-vegans out to test some of London’s vegan salon services.

We’ve let you know if the salon has vegan furniture, fully vegan products, and vegan snacks, so you can make your own mind up about which one to visit.

Here’s how we got on, listed in no particular order (except for number one, as it’s the only fully vegan salon on the list *winks*).

1. The Rabbit Hole, Hammersmith

(Picture: The Rabbit Hole)

‘The Rabbit Hole is for serious vegans. It’s the OG vegan salon, opening in 2012 as London’s only fully vegan salon.

‘Hairdresser Dori has a reputation among vegans, who are happy they can go somewhere safe in the knowledge that every single thing in the salon is cruelty-free and vegan. She’s not jumping on a bandwagon – she really gives a sh*t.

‘It’s the kind of place you go to for a cruelty-free hair cut and come out with a dozen plant-based recommendations for places to visit in London and wherever else you’re planning to be.

‘I went in looking pretty raggidy after a session of hot yoga and came out tamed – my curls buoyant and my dead ends cut off.

‘But more than that, I came out feeling really inspired to continue on my vegan journey by hairdresser and owner Dori, who has been a vegan for over 10 years and who told me about all the best places to visit on my upcoming trip to Iceland.

‘The products smelt gorgeous and made my hair look great; everything used in the salon is organic as well as being animal product and testing free. Oh, and excellent coffee and biscuits.

‘Despite living over an hour away, would definitely visit for another cut.’

Are all products vegan? Yes.

Is all furniture vegan? Yes.

What about snacks? All vegan!

Find The Rabbit Hole at 6A Charleville Road, London, W14 9JL 

 

2. WhiP, Hackney

(Picture: WhiP Hackney)

‘WhiP is set in the heart of Hackney, and is a little oasis of calm off the bustling Morning Lane.

‘This place is decked out how I’d like my house to look, full of second hand and upcycled furniture, and amazing vintage mirrors – each one is different (check them out in the phto at the very top of the article).

‘I was offered a local vegan beer or gin cocktail as soon as I got there, but turned it down and had a herbal tea instead. Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t dead, kids.

‘I sat down with stylist and co-owner James and he talked me through what I wanted (to make my bob great again), before I plonked myself at the hella cool sink area and had a hair wash and head massage.

‘There’s loads to look at while you’re getting your hair chopped, with all the knick knacks and cool furniture, so I wasn’t surprised when James told me that it gets used a lot for location shoots.

‘They’ve also got great music pumping – not the hectic tinny club music vibes of mainstream chain salons – thanks to both directors having music industry roots. WhiP also has a mini record shop inside, and it’s even used as a performance space for live music and DJs, as they want it to be a fun place to hang out, rather than just a salon.

‘The owners try to be as eco-friendly as possible, right down to the cleaning products they use, which is a massive plus point for me.

‘I should point out that the salon is opposite vegan mecca Temple of Seitan, so it would be rude not to treat yourself to a ‘chicken’ wrap and some mac and ‘cheese’ after your cut.

‘I was really happy with my new ‘do (I trusted James to cut it shorter than I’ve ever had it), and went straight out for dinner afterwards, rocking my new swishy, shorter hair.

‘If you have Afro-Caribbean hair, keep an eye out as they’ll be offering a vegan organic service for your hair type in the future.’

Are all products vegan? Yes. They use Evo and Oway.

Is all furniture vegan? All chairs are fake leather except a vintage armchair that they borrowed from a friend.

What about snacks? Vegan beer and gin is available, as well as non-dairy milk for hot drinks.

Find WHiP at 7 Morning Lane, London, E9 6ND. They also have a branch in Homerton.

 

3. Rococo Organic Salon, Clapham

(Picture: Rococo Organic Salon)

‘When I first heard of a vegan salon offering haircuts, I wasn’t sure what it actually meant but everything was explained and shown to me in what has been one of my best salon experiences.

‘The folks at Rococo Organic Salon were so super, not just because their products are organic (duh), cruelty-free, and ammonia-free, but because of their amazing hospitality.

‘I was stupidly late but they were amazingly chill about it. My stylist Barbara walked me through what she was doing and did a strength test – my hair is surprisingly strong, which was news to me. She did this by wetting it and pulling it with two hands as hard as she could and it didn’t tear, so yay!

‘Then she washed my hair using a non-fragrant shampoo and conditioner made from natural ingredients. There are different products available for different hair types and she chose the one best suited to me.

‘The wash was the best part as she sat me down on a massage chair and gave me the most relaxing head massage. Oh, and did I mention the range of complimentary drinks available?

‘You can get juices, coffee, herbal teas, and 10 different fruit teas like Bora Bora or Secret Garden (you’ll have to try them and see what’s what).

‘I didn’t colour my hair but Rococo offers a pretty awesome vegan colouring system that even pregnant and new mothers can do without fear of harmful chemicals.

‘I would definitely go back!’

Are all products vegan? All products are cruelty-free, and the majority are vegan, bar six styling products which contain either beeswax or a honey derivative. These are clearly labelled and stylists are aware of them.

Is all furniture vegan? Yes.

What about snacks? They offer loads of herbal/fruit/green teas, coffee and fruit juices. It’s best to give them a heads up if you’re vegan, and you can let them know when you register as a new client, so there’s a note on your file.

Find Rococo Organic Salon at 16 Webb’s Road, London, SW11 1XJ.

 

4. Glasshouse Salon, Hackney

(Picture: Glasshouse)

‘Glasshouse Salon is situated in Hackney’s creative hub Netil House, and the salon fits into the building well. It has a really lovely vibe, it’s laidback while also being cool, and not at all intimidating like some salons are. It’s also pretty small, which I really liked, as it makes it cosy and friendly.

‘I was offered a drink as soon a I sat in the chair, and had a fancy pour over coffee with almond milk. I really do appreciate proper coffee.

‘I’m vegan myself but have always been a bit confused about vegan hair dye, and assumed you couldn’t lighten your hair with vegan products – not sure why I assumed this as it’s just not true. I was here to cover my first batch of silvery greys but still wanted a balayage effect, and my lovely stylist Mel confirmed that she could indeed give me that sunkissed look, using their vegan products.

‘The salon uses Organic Colour Systems, which works in a different way to more mainstream lines, as it contains more natural ingredients, so is less harsh on the hair. Conventional hair dye is applied to dry hair, but this organic colour is applied to wet hair, as it needs the shaft to already be open (rather than a load of chemicals busting it open). A heat cap is then put on your head, so the warmth opens the hair shaft even more, allowing the colour to penetrate. This is a great time to get your book out.

‘My stylist Mel talked me through organic haircare while she washed my hair, which inspired this article on organic shampoo and conditioner. There’s a lot to learn about how natural ingredients work differently to synthetic ones.

‘I really loved the way Mel did my hair (I often hate the way hairdressers blow dry my hair, as I usually let it dry naturally) and it still looked good the next day (again, it usually doesn’t when a hairdresser has loaded it with synthetic styling products).

‘My Glasshouse experience was proof that good hair doesn’t have to cost the earth or any animals, and there’s no excuse for not making your beauty experience cruelty-free.’

Are all products vegan? All products are cruelty-free, and the majority are vegan, bar six products  which contain either beeswax, a milk derivative or a honey derivative.

Is all furniture vegan? All furniture is vegan (fake leather), except the grey cushions on the chair at the entrance, which are made with a sustainably sourced wool.

What about snacks? They offer vegan teas and dairy-free milks for coffee.

Find Glasshouse Salon at  Netil House, 1 Westgate Street, London, E8 3RL.

 

5. Muku, Dalston

(Picture: Muku Dalston)

‘I was a big fan of Muku the moment I arrived, mostly because of the array of plants and excellent minimalist interiors, but the entire experience lived up to the first impressions.

‘Great magazine collections, a quiet salon that doesn’t feel too frantic or overwhelming, and nice teas on offer.

‘On to the actual hair bit – I had my hair done with salon manager Susana, and I was amazed that I was able to get the colour I wanted (bright purple at the roots, and lavender on the ends) with all vegan products – they have vegan options for all colours, and bleach.

‘It made me think that I should just make a commitment to stay vegan in terms of hair from now on – if I can get my hair looking snazzy without harming any animals, why not?

‘I have only a few complaints, but they won’t be applicable to everyone. First off, my ears got dyed bright blue despite wearing having tiny shower caps placed over them, which was a bit annoying. The colour also left stains everywhere I went for a week and a half after the initial dye session (which doesn’t usually happen when I get my hair dyed).

‘I ruined a T-shirt, left stains on my pillow, and even a quick nap would result in a swipe of purple wherever I rested my head. When I washed my hair the water ran bright purple, which was a tad alarming.

‘I didn’t have the best fading experience – usually my hair will fade to a pink-y tone, but after Muku it went from a faded blue to a plain grey.

‘Overall, would go again – the cut was spot-on, too – but will just be a tad cautious about colour pay-off and making sure my hair looks great weeks after the session.’

Are all products vegan? No, some have animal derivatives in but salon manager Susana is vegan so only uses vegan products on her customers anyway. However, all shampoo and conditioners used are vegan.

The vegan products the salon uses are from Fudge, Directions, Salerm and Pureology (although it’s helpful to know that Pureology is now owned by L’Oreal who have murky animal testing credentials).

Is all furniture vegan? Yes (the leather is fake leather).

What about snacks? They provide juices, plant-based milk for hot drinks, and vegan beer.

Find Muku at 491-493 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AU. They also have branches at Shoreditch High Street and Commercial Street.

6. Karine Jackson Hair and Beauty Salon, Covent Garden

(Picture: Karine Jackson)

‘Karine Jackson Hair and Beauty salon is a three minute walk from Leicester Square underground station, and on arrival I’m offered a range of drinks, with vegan milk options.

‘Karine herself is cutting my bushy, rather matted and perpetually unloved locks.

‘She appraises my hair from behind thick-rimmed specs, her own unfussy blonde curls shaking as she expresses disapproval at my penchant for bleaching my hair myself with cheap peroxide.

‘Karine starts by placing a laminated board of colours under my chin, and as she moves it from cool to warm colours, my face lights up. Now I know which colours I can dye my hair and look radiant, rather than drained.

‘She tests a strand, from the top of my head downwards, to see where my hair is dry or brittle. It turns out, to the surprise of no one concerned, that it’s dry at the ends where I’ve had successive home-bleach dip dyes in all colours of the rainbow.

‘After an Organic Colour Systems Aquaboost shampoo to add protein and moisture to my tragic locks, Karine asks me how I usually wear my hair.

‘On learning that it’s either ‘down or up’, she understands that I’m all about the no upkeep look, and trims the ragged ends and adds layers, while offering low maintenance tips perfect for someone who doesn’t want to do much to their hair.

‘Karine started using Organic Colour Systems in 2007 when a client who had been diagnosed with cancer asked her to look into natural alternatives. Organic Colour Systems is a vegan, UK-based brand with a small carbon footprint that sponsors Greenpeace and bears the PETA logo. So, in ethical terms, it’s an absolute dream.

‘It’s great that salons like Karine Jackson offer a vegan service, because if you don’t eat any animal products for ethical reasons, why would you use hair treatments, dyes or cosmetics that have been tested on animals?

‘I come away from the salon with hair that feels light, bouncy and full of movement. I get why people enjoy going to the hairdressers because I feel like I’ve been delivered a healthy shot of endorphins.

‘Even better, no animals were harmed so that I could have a lush salon experience.’

Are all products vegan? No, some have animal derivatives in but if you ask for the vegan service, these won’t be used on your hair.

Is all furniture vegan? Yes (the leather is fake leather).

What about snacks? Look forward to vegan cookies, dairy-free milk for your hot drinks, and soft drinks.

MORE: Should we be using organic and natural shampoo and conditioner on our hair?

MORE: Your guide to 100% vegan, cruelty-free shampoo and conditioner

MORE: The vegan, cruelty-free guide to skincare: Eye creams





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