The Hair Detox
During summer everyone wants to look and feel their best. A body overhaul and skin detox is normally what many focus on, but a major thing that is overlooked is hair. Of course, we want to rock incredible hair all year round, but particularly in summer in order to have it be as maintenance-free as possible. However, with many hair care products filled with harsh chemicals, this could be doing more harm than good. That’s where Act+Acre found a gap in the market – a focus on hair wellness, particularly on the scalp.
It’s fair to say the beauty and hair care industry is a saturated market and it takes someone who truly has a keen entrepreneurial eye to spot a gap in the space. Whether it be a slow-burning idea, a sudden light bulb moment or a mixture of the two, breaking into an already saturated space is a difficult thing to do and it’s something celebrity hairstylist Helen Reavey knows all too well. With a wealth of celebrity clients under her belt including Harry Styles, Rita Ora and Tilda Swinton, along with major designer brands including Fendi, Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs, Reavey explains it was her experience of working with many different people that she saw the same thing over and over again – poor scalp health.
“I suffered from scalp issues my whole life, and I am an avid believer in treating your scalp with the same degree of care and attention as one treats their skin,” she tells Emirates Woman. “Now as a hairstylist, I’ve had the pleasure of working across all races, genders, nationalities, but the one thing that I continued to note as being common across the board was poor scalp health.” Upon delving deeper into the hair care industry, Reavey found that the everyday products that many people use are full of harsh chemicals that didn’t serve to nourish, balance and stimulate the scalp – quite literally the root of all hair health and growth. This was Reavey’s slow-burn of her soon-to-be bigger picture, but there was still that light bulb moment to come, which was actually down to her husband Colm. “In 2017 during one of my first Couture shows in Paris, Colm flew out to surprise me and really saw me in action for the first time,” she explains. “He realised I wasn’t just a hairstylist – I was also acting as a creative director, pulling the entire look together. It was then that we really started thinking about creating a brand and Act+Acre was born.”
At the end of 2018, the couple launched Act+Acre together and from the get-go the brand stood out from all others. Not only in its mantra – putting scalp health first – but in the way its products are produced, through a Cold Processed® method. “For generations, the hair care industry has been using chemicals to achieve product performance, prioritising short-term benefits over the long-term health and wellness of your hair,” Reavey explains. “But it’s not their fault, artificial ingredients need to be added because nutrients evaporate during the traditional high-heat production process.” This is where Act+Acre’s patented Cold Processed® method comes in to play. Using hyperbaric chambers, ice cold water, and 1200lbs of pressure to mix all of the ingredients together, the absence of heat ensures active ingredients for the hair products remain “fresh and highly potent, just as nature intended”, as Reavey notes. The result? A formula with potent and rich ingredients which will feed your scalp the much-needed nutrients it needs to provide long-term health for it, as well as the hair.
From the process, to the long-lasting effects of the products – this is the foundation that the brand is built on. “Act+Acre is a labour of love – a modern hair wellness brand developed on clean hair principles,” Reavey says. “We’re not about quick fixes. We’re about expertise, caring, and thinking things through.More importantly, it’s about your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of the world. We wanted our brand to be proactive, not reactive. It’s about prevention, not damage control. It is about long-term investment.” The expertise used and caring nature put into the brand’s products are a testament to its values – putting time and thought into something that’ll really work.
Enter ‘The Essentials’ – the brand’s three staple products, which all work in sync with one another. “They truly are the essential three steps to support the health of your scalp and hair on a daily and long-term basis,” Reavey says. It all starts with the Scalp Detox – an oil which removes build-up on the scalp, restoring moisture and letting the root of the hair breathe, which means the rest of the hair can thrive. Then the Hair Cleanse and the Hair Conditioner come into play, which have been carefully formulated to be clean, non-stripping and nourishing. “I’ve found that so many hair products on the market either exacerbate issues with harmful chemicals or are designed to be short-term fixes, so it’s important that our products are always improving the health of the hair, or what I like to call ‘hair wellness,’” the co-founder explains.
However, getting to the place of starting her own brand in the hair industry wasn’t an overnight success – in fact, it was 17 years in the making. After working in Ireland for 12 years as a hairstylist, Reavey and her husband Colm made the big leap to move to New York City in 2013, which took her career to new heights working under hairstylist to the stars Sam McKnight whose clientele consists of the late Princess Diana, supermodel Kate Moss and Grammy winner Lady Gaga. “Under his direction, I styled Fashion Weeks in New York, London, Milan, and Paris,” Reavey says. “From there I signed with an agency and went on to direct my own shows at Couture and ready-to-wear in Paris and London, as well as collaborating with the industry’s top photographers on magazine editorials and advertising campaigns.” She describes working with McKnight as the “ultimate dream”. This led to Reavey leading a show at Paris Fashion Week in 2018, a career highlight for the hairstylist. “It was a huge undertaking for couture brand Ralph & Russo,” she recalls. “Fifty models and we created a wig for each one. I had a team of 25 hair stylists who all came to support me and we did an amazing job. I really enjoy not only leading and creating but I love to teach.”
With the launch of Act+Acre at the end of 2018, Reavey hasn’t stepped back from her first love, hairstyling and has actually found both her roles complement each other very well. “My biggest motivation is making people feel special and at ease, regardless of the hat I’m wearing,” she says. “As a hairdresser, I usually play a second role as therapist for my clients. With Act+Acre, I get to create that same positive feeling for so many more people by developing products that are not only high performing, but also help to capture that moment of care and relaxation.”
And there’s no slowing down for the Act+Acre co-founder and hairdresser, as there are plans in the works to take the brand global, having originally launched the brand “to challenge the way the haircare industry thinks about products”. While it was a risk, it has certainly paid off. “The overwhelming feedback we’ve received over the past 18 months has only reinforced our mission,” she reveals. “We have several new products in the pipeline that I’m so proud of, and we look forward to continuing to expand globally.” Does this include the UAE? “Yes,” Reavey says, as she believes the region in particular fits in with the brand’s core values of the “investment in self-care”.
As for what’s to come next, Reavey reveals to Emirates Woman that she is launching a dry shampoo like no other. “I’ve personally never been a fan of dry shampoo as it tends to be a quick fix that leads to excess build-up on the scalp, which can clog and damage the hair follicle over time,” she explains, but she saw this as an opportunity to “reinvent” what dry shampoo is. “We knew it was a product that everyone wanted, so I saw it as an opportunity to reinvent dry shampoo in a way that would align with our philosophy of hair wellness,” she says. “We worked incredibly hard on the formulation, and the result is incredible. It’s unlike anything that’s currently on the market!” We’ll be waiting in the wings, in eager anticipation of this revolutionary launch.
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