Innovation Spotlight: Bio-Lights
Every year, salons throw out tons of foil that sit in landfills or never get recycled at all. That got Rick Wellman, co-owner of Patrick Melville Salon in The Sports Club/LA at Rockefeller Plaza, thinking.
When he saw a colorist using cotton strips at a show, he started experimenting. The results are Bio-lights-highlights processed in white, 100-percent biodegradable, cotton cloth strips. Celebrities including Petra Nemkova, Mariska Hargitay and Brooke Shields are big fans.
"It took a lot of experimentation to discover the perfect way to fold them," says Wellman. "They stick easily and you don't fold the sides in, but you do need a double fold from the bottom up so the color doesn't soak through. You can mold the cotton strips to follow the curve of the head, and there's no swelling, overlap or bleed."
Oil lighteners work best with cotton because powdered lighteners dry up and stick. That's not a bad thing; oil lighteners are the products of choice for double-process blonding because their slow action is gentler on hair. Normal color processing is slowed by 10 minutes but the application is faster than with foils, says Wellman.
"Unlike foil, cotton allows ammonia to escape, so the hair is never over-processed, even through we use heat lamps," he says. "Our salon uses cotton 90 percent of the time, and the clients say it's as comfortable as a pillow."
Wellman is currently in talks with a manufacturer about classes. If you want to test cotton strips yourself, his source is Miss Webril in Stamford, Connecticut.