We’ve discovered an Italian haircare range that’s luxurious, sustainable and won’t break the bank: introducing DAVINES …
I’m really fussy about what I put on my hair now. It’s one thing using all manner of cheap shampoo when you’re 20, when you have a thick mane of dye-free hair … Post-45, post-children, pre- and post-menopause, your hair can really struggle – and years of chemical colouring, lashing on the silicones and blasting your scalp with as much heat as you can stand add insult to injury. Perhaps it’s the same as they say about your face – you end up with the hair you deserve. Anyway, my fine, frizzly, dry hair constantly needs TLC (even though I don’t colour it any more), and I’m constantly trying to nourish, hydrate and smooth it. I did a cull of silicones, avoid alcohol-laden sprays and look for products that actually treat my hair as opposed to mask the problems.
So finding a range that ticks all my boxes is very cheering these days. I’ve tried Davines (rhymes with finesse) haircare in the past and been really impressed with both its credentials and its performance; but up til now it’s not been widely available here. Davines is an Italian, family-owned company that is really and properly transparent about everything from its ingredients to its eco impact, and has a big focus on sustainability at its laboratories in Parma. On paper, Davines has everything I do and don’t want: no parabens, artificial colours, silicones or PEG (petroleum-based compounds used for thickening), and they have never tested on animals – and 98 per cent of ingredients are naturally derived and organic. So the products are ideal for sensitive skin and won’t irritate your scalp (so it suits my teens too), with prices around €22 for shampoo. The packaging is 95 per cent recycled plastic, and carefully considered. But it’s not all worthiness – high cosmetic results are crucial.
The brand is now widely available in salons across the country thanks to Simone Cody and Audrey Shanley, who have combined their experience in the hair industry – they have racked up more than 30 years between them, managing luxe brands like Kerastase and She Uemura – to start up Hair Lux Pro, distributing high-performance ethical haircare in Ireland. I’m inspired by how they’ve both come back into business after taking a bit of time out, and are embracing it with huge enthusiasm and energy: “You don’t lose your experience,” Simone points out, “you just re-channel it.”
“We’ve been seeing a move towards sustainability, cruelty-free, “free from” hair care since 2012,” explains Audrey. “We knew this focus was coming down the tracks. There’s a real appetite for it, and more and more salons are looking to be sustainable.” With Davines it’s about transparency; they publish a sustainability report each year to chart their progress and be open about their impact on the environment and how they are working to improve it, rather than making false promises. Everything is produced in the same factory in Palma and using indigenous plants and seasonal active ingredients, in carbon-neutral packaging. Whether you’re looking to go entirely organic with your haircare, or just want to use more non-toxic and chemical-free products that work properly, these products are so natural they could be used on a baby, a well as post illness, on sensitive scalps or if you’re suffering hair loss.
Founded in 1983, Davines previously did all the R&D for brands like Redken. “People want something bespoke, targeted and there are very few bespoke distribution companies,” notes Simone. “It is a male-dominated industry – all the CEOs are men – and we want to be part of it.” Their passion for Davines is really engaging and informed. “It’s a lifestyle brand and it’s all about innovation. Davines is a Business for Good and a B Corporation, so it’s not just about making a profit but also putting a bit back.”
For starters, try the €10.50 hair mask (four to five uses in each pack), from the Quick Fix for all hair types to the Hopeless Hair mask. I also really like the multitasking products, especially the Authentic Moisturising Balm (€24), which can also be used as a face wash as well as a conditioning body and hair treatment. Star product is the Oi Oil (€42) which is naturally absorbent; I tried using it as an overnight treatment, shampooing with L’Oréal’s Source Essentielle the next morning (another excellent range that has between 80 and 99 per cent natural origin ingredients), and have found my hair noticeably improved all week – softer, shinier, smoother – and I don’t say that very often.
The list of salons on board with Davines is growing all the time, with industry names such as Jim Hatton, Zeba and Ciaran Nevin in Terenure all on board. And the feedback is excellent; hairdressers are even finding the products kinder on their hands for a start. Colour is vegan (Davines have never tested on animals) and ammonia-free, so it’s providing an answer for a lot of people; try it with the colour specialists at Vanilla in Rathmines. The latest salon to come on board is Dun Laoghaire’s newest salon, Decode Hair (just by the legendary “Last Corner Shop”, where you get all the old newspapers), run by Wella Trend Vision winner Leandro Santana Santos. You can also try Davines at excellent concept salon The Cutting Room in Midleton, Co Cork, and Mack Hairdressing in Co Mayo (see website for full list of salons). I’m definitely going to try out the Sea Salt scale treatment, an in-salon 20-minute “hair reset” that gently cleanses your scalp, like a facial for your hair. “It’s all about making a different choice,” says Audrey, “Davines has a different ethos, aiming to be the most beautiful and ethical company rather than the biggest.”
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