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What is Paper Not Foil?

With sustainability becoming a huge issue across all aspects of our lives, it’s no surprise that more salons are looking for ways to reduce their impact on the environment. Luckily, more and more products and brands are coming up with innovative ways to help – including the revolutionary Paper Not Foil - 

Have you heard of Paper Not Foil? Are you using it in your salon yet? Read on to find out more about it, how to use it and some other easy tips from the brand’s founder for making your salon more eco-conscious!

The average salon goes through an estimate of 2km of foil every month - New Zealand salons go through enough foil to wrap around the earth once every year! Foil and plastic can be recycled but comes with a huge carbon footprint, transportation alone and is generally single use.
Paper Not Foil wanted to provide an alternative to the industry with focus on -
In that order …

What is Paper Not Foil?

Paper Not Foil is an eco-friendly alternative to using mesh, plastic or foil for colouring hair. It is the first product of its kind, transforming ground-down industrial waste into reusable paper strips which are perfect for hair colour application.

What else makes Paper Not Foil so special? Well, every strip is:

  • Washable and can be reused several times reducing single waste
  • Made using significantly less energy than foil
  • Degradable in landfills without producing toxic waste
  • Easy to use and faster with many creative uses
  • More comfortable for the client
  • Quieter
  • Produced without using water, acid or bleach in its manufacturing process along with renewable energy
  • Fully recyclable 
  • Waste free – it is produced from waste materials and any reject paper is recycled into new paper or through recycling streams made into new products

In fact, many people don’t realise that aluminum is actually even more wasteful than plastic wrap, emitting 12 tonnes of greenhouse gasses per 1 tonne of production. If discarded, it can take up to 400 years to break down, plus many salons also don’t realise that unless they wash their foils after using them, they can’t be recycled.

This is why Paper Not Foil could be a real game changer for both salons and the planet. On hair, you can use it exactly the same as you would use foils. It has a chalk-like texture to grip the hair and easily glides out with no snagging. It can be cut to size, just like foils, and can even save you time as you don’t need to fold the edges. They can easily be washed, preparing them for many reuses or for the recycling bin.

How to Use Paper Not Foil

Is this all sounding good to you? You’ll be pleased to hear just how easy it is to use Paper Not Foil in your salon, too!

To use Paper Not Foil, you simply follow these steps:

  1. Cut the paper down to the required size
  2. Section the hair and position the paper the same way you would with a foil
  3. Apply the colour and fold the paper in half to process
  4. When removing, the papers easily glide out either before or during the hair wash
  5. Once used, wash the paper strips by hand or in the washing machine with a few towels
  6. Pat or air dry to use again

The strips can be reused once after washing, but as they are completely recyclable, there’s no guilt in using fresh strips after every use if you prefer to.


Get to Know Paper Not Foil…

To get to know more about the story behind Paper Not Foil, and how they can help salons become more sustainable, we chatted to the founder, Amanda Buckingham, for more…

Hi Amanda! Can you fill us in on what sparked the creation of the Paper Not Foil products?

It all came from looking in our salon rubbish bins to see what waste we could reduce or use again. I discovered our salon was going through 2.5 km of tinfoil a month – imagine this globally!

Then when I was at home, wrapping my children’s school lunches with lunch paper, I had a light bulb moment – perhaps there is a more sustainable material available? Something we could reuse with no detriment to the planet in it’s manufacturing and disposal process?

After much searching I couldn’t find anything, so I took it upon myself to make it myself! Paper made of industrial waste, not trees, completely safe for our environment, reusable, fully degradable, saving you money and amazing to colour hair with.

What makes Paper Not Foil revolutionary to the hair world?

the first of its kind to be completely degradable and reusable – just put it in the washing machine! Along with being made from recycled industrial waste, it can also make our colour techniques easier, faster and even save salons money.

Lowering carbon emissions is now a huge demand in our industry, and is now affecting consumers’ choices for colouring hair.

Paper Not Foil reduces unnecessary transportation, fuel, emissions, mining, coal driven processing, high energy, smelting in recycling – not to mention the fact that NO toxins or harmful dross are being released into the environment when manufacturing or being disposed of.

How much do you think the salon industry is changing to adapt to our environmental concerns?

I believe we have an industry now looking for low chemical green products. Quality over quantity is what consumers and our clients now want in their lives. Our clients are now educated in what products are harming the environment and I think our industry is now starting to realise that they have to consciously make choices to provide this for clients.

Salons are also now relying on their product suppliers to provide these alternatives for them. They are seeking advice in the better brands to provide them with stock to help make a difference to our environment.

Paper Not Foil has daily emails from suppliers and salons all over the world who want to add our product to their portfolio to provide their salons with a better choice. With the right support and education, our salons will be able to have confidence to help make our industry, ourselves and environment safer.

We are in a time of having to change, it’s not a trend anymore, it’s reality.

How much further do you think the industry can go in becoming more sustainable?

As I mentioned above, our leaders have to provide our industry with more conscious tools to make it easier for our industry to become more sustainable.

But sometimes it’s simply the little things that make a huge difference – sorting rubbish, cleaning products, no more single use products, going plastic-free, biking to work, public transport over one person to a car, reusing and sharing with others to see what else we can do to make a difference.

What advice would you give to salons who want to help make the industry more eco-friendly and sustainable?

Little steps are easy; if you think too big it can become overwhelming. Often we have a couple of stylists in a team who already practice being conscious of our environment. Ask them to help be the salon ‘Eco Warrior’ and implement some small changes to make a difference each day. Have regular meetings to support this and also identify any other things that can help become more eco friendly.

Within 6 months you will be surprised how the little changes become huge and if every salon did this – what a huge difference we could make!

What has the feedback been like from salons who have already started using Paper Not Foil?

The feedback has been amazing and many salons have already welcomed the change. Many other salons have already made the change. We also have brand educators now using these as part of their education courses.

What would you say to salons who are still using aluminum foils in their salons and are thinking of switching to Paper Not Foil?

Start by using small amounts of Paper Not Foil – balayage or a few colour placements, until you get more confident, eventually being able to reduce hundreds of KM of foil and plastic per year! Perhaps assign a ‘Paper Professional’ in your salon to help other team members transition.

Do you have any tips for hair stylists using Paper Not Foil for the first time?

The paper comes in two different widths: Small (10cm x 40cm) and Large (13cm x 40cm). They can be cut in half for retouch foils or into three for short hair. Each pack contains 500 pieces, which is the equivalent of 200 meters of foil.

The paper is perfect for guarding colour and sections, plus many clients prefer it as it is less noisy and doesn’t pull as much as foils.

While hair lighteners and light colour levels don’t stain the paper, you might notice that fashion colours and darker levels do. When reusing the papers, save the unstained ones for lighter applications and stained ones for dark colour application. However, if you prefer you can simply recycle stained papers straight after washing them – or even put them in the bin as they will simply degrade with no leaching of toxins, gasses and simply degrades to lime dust which is safe and non toxic to plants, animals, ourselves and waterways. 

*Some extracts from