IN CONVERSATION WITH: TABITHA JAMES KRAAN
First of all – can you tell us about your initial motivation into the hair and beauty industry, your Organic Hair Salon and how the brand Tabitha James Kraan began?
I started my working life at the age of 16 as an ambitious young hairdresser in mainstream hairdressing and within a week I fell in love with it. Thirty six years later I still love it! It is such a privilege to work with women on their image, health and wellbeing. I opened my first salon in Broadway in the Cotswolds in 1993 with a Princes Trust loan. In 1999 I became pregnant with my first child and then everything changed following a conversation with my midwife. She awakened me to the fact that a percentage of everything that goes onto the scalp will be absorbed into the blood stream and subsequently my unborn child.
Can you explain the ideology and process of eco/organic hairdressing?
Simply put – organic hairdressing is about taking a holistic, whole health approach to hair care. It’s about slowing down and creating rituals, working in harmony with the body, noticing where you are in life, and what is going on with the hair to work with it rather than against it. I encourage women to truly embrace who they are and to show it. I also think it’s important to have fun in the process. It’s about empowering both hairdressers and salon guests to build a better future for hair care.
In this day and age and given what we know, the intelligent way forward has to be eco, and we don’t have enough time to continue making the wrong choices. The good news is that by slowing down how we consume, being conscious in our consumption and choosing quality over quantity, we are doing the right thing and really making progress.
Tell us a little about your products and how you source your organically produced ingredients?
Our Eco-Luxe hair care range is certified organic by the Soil Association and Cosmos, which is the UK certification body and I believe the highest standard in the world. They track everything back to source as part of the certification process. We choose the highest quality certified organic ingredients because I care about protecting biodiversity and the soil. For grown and botanical ingredients it’s important to choose organically, sustainably farmed ingredients as without healthy soil the world is in trouble.
The range is designed to work sustainably on the hair and scalp. It’s all about using high quality products less often to deliver change in the condition of the hair and scalp, creating beautiful healthy hair. Ultimately, less is more effective once the products have done their job. Working in harmony with the body takes a little time to allow the body to rebalance and the hair to detox from previously used products that may be loaded with hidden plastics.
How do you choose the right products for each individual client?
Tabitha James Kraan Organic Hair Care is a capsule range that works powerfully for everyone; the routine is what changes for different hair types. For example, my 4-1 conditioner is a hair moisturiser that can be worn on dry hair as well as used as a detangle in the shower. It can also be used as a leave-in conditioner for the hair and scalp and makes a wonderful heat styling aid, keeping the hair smooth and frizz free. It’s designed to be layered and will never weigh the hair down. You would choose a routine for your hair type that depends on how dry or dehydrated your hair is, and you apply it when and where the hair needs it. My website is full of tips and ideas on how to use the range and how to find your routine.
Do you think organic hairdressing can overtake the more traditional salon with a growing awareness of climate change and a need to support the planet?
Absolutely, and it’s already happening! There is a huge movement for change. It couldn’t be a more exciting time for the industry. I am part of a small team that heads up a ‘hair task force’ for the British Beauty Council’s sustainability coalition. We are currently launching a campaign to support the hairdressing industry at large to become more sustainable in the way it works.
What advice would you give for navigating the confusing minefield of ingredients we see on product labelling to find the right haircare products that are more sustainable and ethical?
Always choose something that at the very least does not contain parabens and sulphates, and look for hidden plastics in hair care formulations – ingredients like polymers and copolymers are liquid plastic emulsions and they are terrible for the hair and catastrophic for the environment.
If you could choose one person to cut and style who would it be and why?
I would be honoured and delighted to look after the Duchess of Cambridge and I know I could really help her with her hair.
Hardest challenge you’ve had to face?
Convincing people how much biodiversity loss matters. I believe when women are armed with knowledge, we can use our power to make real change in the world. I want to empower women to stand up and act now.
I had the very great privilege of hearing two great masters of this subject in conversation at the end of 2021 – Sir David Attenborough and Professor E. O. Wilson at the Royal Geographical Society. They spoke in detail about their hopes and wishes for us in the future and the urgency we all face.
My sons – they are incredible human beings and I couldn’t be more proud.
Your top haircare tip?
Don’t wash the life out of your hair – for me traditional shampoos are the enemy. They are degreasants and designed to remove all traces of oil. This does not work for hair as it disrupts the scalp and sends the body out of balance. My washing products harmonise and calm the overproduction of sebum that makes the hair greasy, enabling the hair to stay clean for longer.
Everyone can use my washing products, which one you choose will depend on your hair concerns. Both are for all hair types, unisex and for natural or colour-processed hair.
My Hair Cleanser is the problem solver that replaces shampoo and is designed to rebalance an oily scalp as well as a dry dehydrated scalp. It is soothing and rebalancing and trains the hair to stay clean for longer.
My Clean Shampoo will gently clean and nourish the hair and scalp without causing disruption to the scalp or body. It is as much about what it does not do as what it does do. It is not a degreasant and will respectfully clean the hair leaving it feeling fresh and glossy, not stripped.
Top beauty must have in your makeup bag?
A good mascara – I love Studio10 6-1 Perfect Lash Mascara.
And finally, your favourite quote to live by?
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt