In a time when we carry around tiny supercomputers, shampoo feels far from revolutionary. Whether at the drug store or salon, many hair products seem interchangeable. All of these then build up and must be clarified with yet another special product. Even the new wave of suds-free “co-washes” or “cleansing cremes” oftentimes feel like conditioner repurposed as shampoo. It’s through this lens that we learned about Act + Acre, and felt compelled to try it out.
Founded by Irish hairstylist Helen Reavey and her husband Colm Mackin, Act + Acre is approaching haircare like skincare—starting with how it’s made. Traditionally in the cosmetics industry, heat is used to combine ingredients, but according to the brand, this procedure can lower or even destroy the effectiveness of the active ingredients that shampoo boasts. So Reavey and Mackin developed a now-patented process that uses cold water and high pressure—while it takes a lot longer, it saves 90% energy and retains more potency of the active ingredients. What you read on the ingredients label is what you get. Act + Acre makes use of rosemary, lavender, amaranth oil, moringa oil, ylang ylang, and more.
Act + Acre’s hair cleanse and conditioner check off all the marks for those who are particular: they are sulfate-free (but able to achieve a lather with a mild surfactant derived from coconut) and also void of silicone and parabens. Additionally, each product is vegan and cruelty-free.
The luxe, rigid bottles aren’t super-squeezable, but Reavey says they had their hearts set on using fully recyclable PETG over softer plastics that might be harder to recycle. (In our own research, we learned that the glycol in PETG causes issues like clumping when recycled alongside PET—which is the most commonly accepted plastic at public recycling plants—and that states like California are in the middle of changing legal definitions while recycling plants are catching up to better-sorting technologies.) Their lack of packaging label stickers also makes recycling easier. Act + Acre aims to be 100% carbon-neutral later this year.
The brand’s Scalp Detox is a light serum-like blend of oils that you apply onto the scalp and wash out after 20 minutes. Unlike scalp scrubs that physically exfoliate with big particles like sea salt or apricot seeds, it’s not messy, nor does it clog the drain.
“It moisturizes the scalp, removing dead skin cells, build-up of product, balances and stimulates the blood supply,” Reavey tells CH. She uses a custom-made camera to check her clients’ scalps, pointing out inflammation, flaky skin, overproduction of oil, and other build-up around the hair follicle—and shows how one application of the Scalp Detox reveals improvement. Reavey emphasizes that when magnified 300 times, the human scalp looks the same regardless of hair type or skin color.
The first thing we noticed upon applying the Scalp Detox is that it doesn’t sting—not even on sensitive skin. Using all three Act + Acre products reveals that they don’t have the chemical fumes of most shampoo or salon treatments, nor are they as overpowering in scent as popular home remedies like apple cider vinegar or coconut oil. It’s simply a light touch that results in the scalp feeling like it’s been remedied back to a natural state—not overly dry, not too oily.
Whether the Scalp Detox is just treating the symptoms or helping improve overall scalp health will take another few months to determine. But if you’re already spending money on hair masks to make dead cells look a little nicer, you might want to reinvest that money to where things are still alive and growing: your scalp.
Images courtesy of Act + Acre