Stafford Hair

Italian Job Goes Green

The new hair brand at the forefront of sustainability

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I have particular soft spot for all things Italian, the put-put of a Vespa, the sprezzatura, art, design, history, food and of course my favourite — my half-Italian wife Leisa.

But there is something else that I’ve always admired — Italy seems to have an almost spiritual connection to environment, deeply rich in agriculture and devoted to using and nurturing its natural resources, caring for community, the land and its people as if the it’s one huge extended family — a truth that seems to be passed from generation to generation.

So it’s only natural that the Italians take their responsibility to ensuring that the world is cleaner better place to live in very seriously — but what does that mean in hair and beauty terms? The hair industry has been slow to react to the changing attitudes and beliefs of todays consumer but changes are coming and companies have started to listen and react in terms of what this informed customer is saying and how we can all improve our habits and practices.

If I’m truly honest, I’m a late convert to the sustainability issue. It was really only after the pandemic that I started to think seriously about how we, as a salon, should react to our clients’ questions and concerns on how our hair product partners behaved environmentally, but there was a number of factors that we felt were important before we decided to commit.

Earlier this year I was approached by Italian superbrand to be part of a creative team that would put together a series of looks for a new product range, Benvoleo, a range of professional customisable high performance and sustainable hair treatment products.

The company’s core values were simple — to be as transparent on every level, making clear conscious and responsible choices to build a better future for the planet. Every step along the way is a collaborative exercise between the company, its clients and environment and using the Italian DNA, combining expertise tradition and, of course, passion. This is typical of what we’ve come to expect of products made in Italy, but the outstanding
feature of Benvoleo has to be its beautiful simplicity — that wonderful quality that seems to cover the country like a carpet.

Benvoleo relies on its natural resources — oak bark, an antioxidant; citrus fruits high in vitamin c and perfect for that ultra shiny luxurious quality that Italians are famous for;, rice water — the new wonder ingredient famous for its moisturising qualities and the perfect anecdote for dehydrated hair after those long Amalfi coast summers. And then there’s vine sap— it’s easy to understand this ingredient as it’s in abundance in Italy but its restorative and invigorating qualities may have been a well-kept secret until now.

In hair terms this is the natural repair kit you’ve been waiting for — only to find that the Italians have known about it for years. By making the product range boutique-style, with simple-to- understand language and a solution for every hair problem Benvoleo has, in my opinion, created a new hair world to live in, almost taking the science and mystery out of vegan and sustainable hair products, no longer making the customer feel elitist or “weird”.

This is a truly conscious effort to make everyone think differently about how to take steps to improve their own conscious effort to help make the planet a cleaner, safer place for us and future generations to live in but also from a price point of view it won’t make us overpay for the privilege.

Benvoleo appears to be dedicated to the idea that vegan sustainable conscientious hair products will and should become the norm and not a specialist niche range.

Reading through the company’s manifesto indicates that it has time to bed in and grow organically (pardon the pun) with its strengths in hyper-fermentation, local sourcing of natural origin ingredients, clean and vegan, bio-availability, water saving and fragrances of natural origin as well clear labelling, recycled and recyclable packaging. This ensures that the consumer is under no illusion what exactly is in the bottle but how and when it got there, where it’s going and where it will eventually end up — leaving all the good stuff in your hair.

Even the campaign that you can see here — which I worked on as part of the Benvoleo team — is collaborative. The models and their hair were chosen almost organically because of their specific hair types and textures so that we could put Benvoleo to the test in real time before shooting the images. We discussed the techniques the models used to create their own hair looks, before using their tips ideas and practices to create “our” interpretations of real hair concepts, avoiding the standard hair industry stereotypical images to really emphasise the natural beauty of hair and nature at work.

With models from South America, Spain, Eastern Europe and the UK, we were able to harness the genetic makeup of global hair issues and problems to trouble shoot them in a way that the model could see was simply a better or more refined version of their own hair.

Alfaparf Milano creative director and educator Piero Gentile was adamant that the hair represented the individual first and the brand second, playing with the busy post pandemic fast moving world we live in all its incarnations. We see truly cosmopolitan looks in their most simple but outstanding beauty, set against urban landscapes and inner city green spaces to emphasise that the world we live in is too exciting and fast for fussy overdone hair. The future is now and Benvoleo is taking the lead in terms of how we speak to clients about conscientious home and salon hair care and how good it feels and looks when there is a broader global kindness at play. Over the next few weeks we will discuss the various looks and styling behind them as we move into the autumn. But after 40 years in an industry that is constantly moving forward, maybe for the first time the biggest leap forward it not the techniques and innovation of the hair craft that’s truly exciting but how our industry can lead the way through simple communication and natural resources combined with ingenuity craft and passion.

So we can look forward to beautiful healthy hair for many years to come in a relatively harmless way. I Benvoleo the first hair company to adapt this strategy and concept — undoubtedly, no, but maybe it’s the first to truly have the resources and desire to deliver the message on a global level.

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