Guest of the Month: Sarah Di lorio of Organika Hair tells us why chemical-free hairdressing is vital for your health.

By Amy Crawford

I spent most years of my life blonde and over half of those as a 'manufactured' blonde, until the day my Dr pulled me up on it, and boy did he make his point. He asked me about my routine. I told him I had my hair chemically bleached every 8-10 weeks, that I lathered synthetic shampoos, conditioners and styling products several times a week. He suggested for a start that I have a good think about the harsh bleaching chemicals (so strong they made my eyes water) leaching into my scalp (and brain) every 2 months. What would be the point of detoxifying my life and diet if I was so intent on being artificially blonde? 

From that moment on I said a swift goodbye to ammonia and related chemicals and embarked on a mission to clean up my hair. So it was with huge relief that I discovered Organika Hair and from that time on only corn derived alkaline bleaching products were good enough for me. Today on the blog I am delighted to introduce my hairdresser Sarah Di lorio, one of 3 owners of the Melbourne based hair salon Organika Hair. 

Hi Sarah, welcome to THI. We love your organic focus in a chemically driven industry. Could you tell us about your background, and how you came to focus on a natural and organic hairdressing?

I’ve always been passionate about hairdressing and I started as a teenager 17 years ago. Like most hairdressers, I slowly developed my skills in styling, cutting and colouring and spent lots of time doing competitions, events and really learning my craft. In my personal life, I’ve always been a very healthy and health conscious person. I grew up on an organic farm and become accustomed to a very holistic lifestyle. I soon realised that my work and the industry in general was completely contradictory to that lifestyle. I’ve seen some pretty nasty stuff! I spent lots of my spare time researching colours and products that could still give great results without all the nasties and as soon as I was comfortable, I went out on my own and started Organika. We’ve grown to 2 salons and outgrown 1 of those spaces in just over 5 years.

What are the specific chemicals that we should be looking out for in conventional hairdressing? What are the potential health risks associated with them?

We sometimes forget that our skin is an organ and so grooming products containing nasty chemicals are very easily absorbed into the bloodstream. With hair colour, ammonia and PPD are the 2 big no no’s. Ammonia especially has been linked to certain cancers after long term exposure. PPD is usually responsible for the adverse reactions that some people get with sensitive scalps.

In the rest of the product range, sulphates, parabens and phthalates are the major nasties that are commonly found in almost all personal grooming products. Again, risks are increased for certain cancers along with potential for birth defects in pregnant woman. Of course, we also try and use organic ingredient products to avoid the potential for carcinogenic chemicals used when growing the ingredients.

Hair treatments and pregnancy is often a hot topic. Would you like to elaborate with your thoughts on this topic?

Being pregnant is certainly a super exciting time in our lives and I’m all for ensuring we minimise the risk of doing any potential harm to the little person growing inside. However, that doesn’t mean that life’s pleasures need to completely stop. We have a range of treatment products that are free from sulphate, paraben, phthalate, chloride and GM free. It means that mum to be can enjoy some much needed time at the basin to completely relax without having stress about bubs.

We also get lots of enquiries from mum’s to be about getting their hair coloured while pregnant. We like to go the extra step and use an amazing scalp shielding product which forms a protective layer and completely stops any absorption through the scalp. It’s piece of mind.

Red heads can be as fussy as brunettes and as blondes! We know what we like on our heads down to the most specific shade and tint. If our readers were to consider making the change from conventional hair colouring to a natural route, could they be assured that their desired results are achieved?

Absolutely. Every head of hair is different so everybody needs to be consulted to ensure that their desired outcome is completely achievable. But there is no reason why an Ammonia and PPD free colour will limit the possibilities when compared to conventional colours. Perhaps some limitation exist for somebody wanting to go from jet black to white blonde, but for 99% of people, their desired look is completely achievable

We find organic produce may be marginally more expensive than conventional grown fruit and vegetables at times. Would you say this is true of the hairdressing industry?

Yes and no. Just like regular products, there are different quality health conscious products available. The prices for high quality health conscious products are no different than other high quality products. The prices for products are generally the same you’d find in other high quality salons. Having said that, there is certainly less available in a more budget focused range but generally those types of products have performance issues.

Finally, can you tell us about your salon, and the Organika experience? And for appointment bookings or further information, where can we find you?

Organika’s philosophy is to finely balance performance and results without the adverse health effects. That means understanding and using the world’s leading products, maintaining world class techniques and trends and ensuring customers leave with exceptional hair. We pride ourselves on providing our clients with an exceptional salon experience from our famous hair treatments with shoulder, arm and hand message to our exceptional in-chair styling, cutting and colouring service.

Organika would like to offer THI followers a 10% discount when booking their next appointment. Simply quote 'The Holistic Ingredient' when you make your booking.

Organika has salons in Elwood (95315333) and Carlton (90414824). You can find out more at or via email at



August 25 2014

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