Some of my favourite beauty people I: Lucy Vincent-Marr

Tiny blonde powerhouse Lucy Vincent-Marr is a well known face in the New Zealand fashion and hair industries, co-owner of Ponsonby's Stephen Marr salon and passionate supporter of all-natural beauty. Names from the media, music scene and fashion come to have their tresses tended, toned or tortured at the salon according to their whim, and the veteran on 21 years in the industry is always in high demand.

When I found out I was pregnant with my son Wolf she was one of the first to know, and soon presented me with a range of options for my hair care that would have zero effect on my system, and my growing baby's. These included organic, chemical free colour, new techniques with my old colour to minimise its effects on my system, an organic take home hair care range that is actually the real thing (there are many pretenders to the throne out there, none of which are exactly as pure as they claim) and general, all round great advice. This was clearly a woman who knew her stuff.

She says that the process of turning her salon into an environmentally aware business has been a “slow, progressive journey that first started at a very basic level about six years ago”. The inspiration was her good friend Sue, an architect with Ponsonby's Hillery Priest who is passionate about sustainable living and responsible business practices. “I'd always been very environmentally aware in my personal life but Sue inspired me to apply those principles in my workplace too,” she says, “and the challenge was to get the fifty people working for me to be passionate about it as well.” She says this was a challenge as so many of her employees are in the 16- 25 year old age bracket, but it wasn't long before the whole team were backing her initiatives. These include having the salon's discarded tint tubes, foils and developer bottles taken away by a specialist company to render inert and recycle, using paper stock from sustainable sources and vegetable based printer inks, and offering only Fair Trade coffee and hot chocolate to their more than agreeable clients.

She says that sourcing ethically created, non toxic products for use in the salon was also a long process as she edited down the brands on offer in New Zealand and researched what was available internationally. “We are at a level in the industry where we can't compromise on performance,” she explains, “and personally, brand integrity along with quality is paramount.” She says that she has chosen brands to work with that are always evolving in their efforts to meet environmentally aware business practices, “be that changing to completely recyclable bottles or working on the purity of their ingredients and ensuring that they are sustainable and not ravaging any natural habitats”. She says that the organic Original & Mineral colour the salon offers (alongside hair super brand Wella) is “so non-toxic that you could sprinkle it on your toast”, and the soya-based, ammonia free tints are available in 84 shades. “The technology is just amazing,” she enthuses, “and has moved way behind the henna movement into some incredible formulations that are really sophisticated.” The salon also stocks the high integrity, all organic Australian brand's range of shampoos and conditioners which are “also incredibly high performance and look beautiful too - it's definitely not a 'natural' brand of the seaweed sandal variety!” She says she's aiming to take the eco-conscious initiative a level higher again by introducing a refill bar, but that is still some way off yet.

The salon's Newmarket branch is also home to Lucy & the Powder Room, Stephen Marr's beauty arm, which uses products from the Ilcsi range of organic Hungarian skincare. As passionate about skin as she is about hair, Vincent-Marr has also been researching and developing her own, completely pure collection of candles and bodycare products which is set to launch very soon. Called SANS, it is as pure as well as simply gorgeous if the samples I’ve tried are to believed. “It used to be that everything that was natural was believed to be better for you,” she explains, “but now we're realising that some ingredients from nature can be just as irritating and toxic as those that are synthetic. My range is as pure as it can be as well as non-irritating or comedogenic, and all the ingredients I've used are sustainably harvested from communities that are fully supported.” She has also sourced completely recyclable packaging and is once again exploring the idea of a refill bar for all of the products. “I'm so aware that every time you purchase something there is a huge energy cost, and I'd like my customers to have the choice of not making that environmental impact.”


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