Each time you get your hair coloured in a salon, more often than not, you’ll be asked to come in for a patch test a day or two early, to ensure you’re not allergic. But for hairdressers who are in close proximity to these chemical treatments day in, day out, it’s not as straightforward.
Did you know that the average length of a hairdresser's career is just eight years? Research by AllergyCertified suggests that half of all hairdressers need to stop working due to eczema and other skin allergies. which are caused by chemicals in traditional hair products, especially within hair colour.
The solution? More naturally focused professional salons and hair care products of course. According to factMR, the rising consumer awareness of the dangers of synthetic ingredients, from parabens and triclosan to sulphates, is spurring the natural hair care market forward, and it’s expected to grow by 7% in the next ten years.
There have been several more natural brands that tailor to the professional hair market for some time, from US-born Aveda and British-born Organic Colour Systems, to Italian brands Davines and Oway. However, the latest newcomer, award-winning BRUNS, hails from Sweden.
Friends Johanna Lindskoug and Cecila Nilsson were both hairdressers with their own salons when they began to discuss the unique challenges of their industry and decided to address them together.
“It was not only alarming to see colleagues falling sick from the chemicals used in professional haircare products,” explains Johanna, “but it also seemed stupid and completely unneccessary to be flushing chemicals down the drains.”
BRUNS Hair Salon was one of the first salons in Sweden to become a certified green salon by the NGO Green Salon Scandinavia. Its name was inspired by Brunius, the old town of Lund where the original salon is located.
When the pair couldn’t find high-quality organic hair care, they decided to create their own products. Their first step was to investigate ingredients, by going through the International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) lists.
Cecilia and Johanna knew what was required of a professional shampoo, and it was this vision that inspired their family and friends to get involved.
Johnanna’s elderly father, Per, was a major inspiration throughout the process, dedicating lots of time to experimenting with ingredients. After months of cooking and mixing, together they finally found the perfect formula for the first commercial product, nr01 - Harmonious Coconut, a combination shampoo and conditioner with a gorgeous spiced scent of natural coconut and cardamom.
The founders pride themselves on the origin and quality of the raw materials, but they also care about the combination of the ingredients. “The way the ingredients marry together is what makes our final product so magic!” says Johanna.
“They must be gentle but be able to deliver results and be multifunctional. We prefer to have a couple of key products that work for a variety of purposes, rather than encouraging the use of many products.”
Initially, the uniquely formulated, handmade hair care products were for sole use in the salon, but slowly and surely clients began to ask to purchase them, and the BRUNS product line was born.
The company quickly outgrew their original office and factory products, and so moved their company to Landskrona. The inspiring duo now has both their signature salon and a BRUNS salon in Malmö.
Today the BRUNS Hair Salon team operates as a large and caring family of over 30 people, while maintaining independence over the business.
Johanna and Cecilia are hands-on with all manners of their business, from product development and manufacturing, to sales and distribution.
“It’s the shared values we have that makes us feel like a family. We are all passionate about being independent and valuing the people behind the business. Honesty and respect are key components of BRUNS.”
BRUNS has won several environmental awards, including Best Hairdresser at the Swedish Eco Salon Awards in 2021, and the company now trains hairdressers and other upcoming green salons across Sweden. “There’s been a huge boom within the green hair care sector, but there’s also a lot of greenwashing and misinformation,” explains Johanna.
“Customers and hair care practitioners alike are screaming for a toxic-free environment and products. We hope that EU regulations of cosmetic ingredients become stricter, and that both EU and global standards are established for environmentally-sound ingredients.”
Big name companies dominate the market, making it impossible for independent brands like BRUNS to compete online with their huge spend on Google Adwords keywords like organic, vegan, and natural hair care. Since these brands usually mass produce, and do so outside of the EU, their production costs are low and inexpensive.
“Behind many haircare brands lie corporations who own multiple brands. They can afford vegan certification on their products, even though the products contain synthetic silicon, which is a huge polluter for aquatic life - there really should be a dead fish warning on the packaging!”
While BRUNS can’t compete on sales and volume, they want to always be the winners when it comes to quality and ethics. BRUNS is certified by Green Salon, which has a ban list of ingredients that is far stricter than the EU.
“We’re always driven by the health of our workers, the health of our clients, and the health of our natural world.”
BRUNS latest product is a new Hair Growth series, which includes mung bean extracts and red clover sprouts, which helps stimulate the hair stem cells to produce new hair.
“We don’t use glass bottles as it makes the weight too heavy, which is not sustainable for transportation,” explains Johanna, “however BRUNS ordinary packaging is bigger than most standard sized shampoos, so that they last longer, and it is made from thin, recyclable and 100% recycled PCR (post-consumer resin) plastic.”
In addition to best selling products including the original nr01, a hair mask, and a silver shampoo for grey hair, BRUNS has a complete unscented and allergy certified product range.
A firm favourite of this writer is the BRUNS nr18 exuberant tangerine balsam spray, which added gloss and successfully styled my normally untamable fine hair.
BRUNS is now going through the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Global goals training in the hope they can put this certification on their products in the future.