Enter: the ‘skinification’ of hair – the next wave of haircare that encourages us to take the same results-oriented approach to our scalps and strands as we do the skin on our faces.
From scalp scrubs and serums infused with skincare actives to hair type-specific collections and multi-step routines, it goes beyond the old cleanse-and-condition, aiming instead to support hair in reaching its full potential – a clarified, balanced scalp, stronger, smoother, shinier hair, vibrant colour that lasts longer, preventing and reversing damage, and styling products that protect and nourish.
To this movement, ARKIVE adds another essential element: self-care and wellbeing – a philosophy they’ve dubbed ‘headcare’. Developed by salon legend Adam Reed (he rejects the title “celebrity hairdresser”, though his hands have indeed styled the locks of Madonna and Harry Styles, among many others), ARKIVE elevates the at times mundane task of washing, treating and styling into a meditative, sensorial ritual; something that not only does good for your hair and scalp, but feels good, physically and mentally.
“I talk about looking after what goes on inside and on top of your head,” Reed told me when I met him on a whirlwind visit to Melbourne. “You have to wash your hair – why not make it a nice massage? Why not make it smell nice? Why not learn the art of touch? Even just using your own hands on your own head is an amazing way of looking after yourself, of grounding yourself.”
ARKIVE’s edited range of 12 cleansing, conditioning, treating and styling products is based on those principles of sensory delight and simplicity (“I’ll never create a hundred products,” Reed tells me) – from the colours on the packaging to the logo font and even the scent.
“If you like ritualisation, they are that – but I call them practical solutions for daily headcare. It's doing little things to make a bigger difference; you get that incredible burst of the fragrance and your hair looks insanely good after. I love it!”
Self-care is king
Those quick daily boosts are essential to Reed, who candidly reveals he silently struggled with an internal mental battle for most of his life: “I always knew I struggled from an internal mental battle, but it wasn't talked about – being a creative, being an empath. It wasn't a thing that was discussed. But I always knew that there was something there.”
On the outside, he was incredibly successful – international Fashion Weeks, Vogue covers, the aforementioned Madonna moment (for those playing at home, he styled her hair for the Me Against The Music video with Britney Spears), launching Charles Worthington’s New York salon, co-founding boutique London salon and haircare range Percy & Reed and styling One Direction’s hair for The X Factor (yes, Harry Styles is still a friend), in between flying around the world for ghd and L’Oréal Professionnel.
Then, as 2019 became 2020, he was preparing to open his own namesake salon – the culmination of a lifetime dream.
And it all came crashing down.
“I opened Adam Reed London and weeks later, the pandemic. I had a breakdown in the first lockdown. I literally lost my mind,” he confides. The salon was forced to close, and Reed and his family ended up selling their London home and moving to a cottage in the English countryside.
“I met Kenny, my husband, eight years ago. That was a bit of a gamechanger. Then we adopted our little boy, Riley, and we learnt a lot through the adoption process of bonding and nurturing, nature, nurture,” he reveals. “Coming out of that [dark time during the pandemic], my son shared the things that he had learnt in the adoption: the care of washing hair, bathing, using fragrance. From a salon perspective, I realised we’d lost the ability to converse, share and communicate, and that ‘safe space’ element of a salon chair. That’s where headcare was born.”
He calls hairdressers “the second therapist”, explaining: “Not that I think anything was good about the pandemic, but for me, the positive was seeing the power that we have as hairdressers; the communities that we have built, the creativity that people were absolutely hunting out. During the second lockdown, we were telling our clients, ‘Do whatever you want to your hair at home and we’ll help you. Let’s have a consultation on Zoom,’ and then no consulting took place, it would just be a chat – a conversation. And they’d feel better, and we’d feel better.
"Again, it’s those little things that make such a big difference. Talking, sharing, communicating, connecting – sharing really is caring, and health is health: mental health and physical health.”
All of this is distilled in the name ARKIVE – ‘ARK’ is derived from the first letters in Adam, Riley and Kenny and the ark as a symbol of rescue, while ‘ARKIVE’ represents Reed’s extensive knowledge of haircare and mental health support.
Keep it simple - and sensory
Summarising his approach, Reed says: “My big belief is prevention is key – and that goes for your head and your hair. If you look after your hair, you should never find the need for hundreds of products. Shampoo cleans your hair – that’s really all it does. Your hair is a dead fibre, so a shampoo and conditioner should be designed to prevent snagging, prevent any further damage.”
For those two-in-one lovers (gentlemen, we’re looking at you) and those of us with natural curls, the All Together Now Co Cleanse combines the benefits of both in one lightweight, nourishing step.
Recall that ‘skinification’ trend from before? ARKIVE shows how it’s done: Reed calls scalp treatments “really key” – something he’s simplified to The Crown Scalp Scrub, while ARKIVE’s The Prologue Primer acts like a makeup primer, except for hair (while also detangling and heat protecting). But perhaps the best example is the product Reed himself recommends to anyone wanting to try ARKIVE: The Good Habit Hybrid Oil.
“It’s an oil and a serum – incredible nourishment for scalp and for hair,” he reveals, explaining that it can be used for ‘hair slugging’. Yes, you heard right – just like skin slugging, hair slugging is all about saturating hair and scalp with a moisturising product and leaving it to soak in overnight. Reed works 10 pumps of The Good Habit through the hair from scalp to the ends (those with oily roots can also use this technique, Reed adds), double brushes (exactly what it sounds like – part the hair in two sections and use two brushes!) to exfoliate the scalp and evenly distribute the product through the hair, then wraps and leaves it overnight and shampoos thoroughly in the morning.
Most importantly, Reed has designed every ARKIVE product to suit everyone: “It isn't defined by gender. It is not defined by ethnicity. It is not defined by which age bracket you sit in – it's designed for you, yours and theirs. Everybody in your family can use it. Accessibility is key.”
How to wash your hair – the ARKIVE way
It’s hard to believe, but Reed’s hair washing method is a gamechanger (and I got to experience it first-hand!). Here’s how it works:
- Oiling: Reed uses The Good Habit Hybrid Oil like a first cleanse – he tells me to “think of it like an oil cleanser for your skin” drawing out excess sebum and surface impurities, while simultaneously “pre-treating” the hair and scalp before shampooing. He notes that hair oiling has a long history, dating back to the ancient principles of Ayurveda.
- Brushing: Brushing not only helps distribute the product through the hair, it also helps to exfoliate the scalp and – most importantly – relax you! “It’s headcare in its purest form!” says Reed, who uses a ghd Paddle Brush.
- Scalp scrub: The Crown Scalp Scrub contains menthol for a tingly, refreshing experience. Apply it post-oil to help lift any residual build-up on the scalp.
- Massage: Possibly the best part of an ARKIVE wash is Reed’s signature massage. Using your fingertips, “start at your temples and work your way behind the ear to the nape of the neck, through to the occipital area, (the curvature at the back of the head), up to the crown and then back to the temples.” Reed advises going through the motion twice for a normal wash, and up to 10 for a more indulgent experience.
- Shampoo – twice: Double cleansing isn’t just for your face; Reed recommends shampooing twice to get your hair and scalp thoroughly clean. And don’t forget to rinse! “The biggest mistake people make is that they don’t rinse their hair enough. It can leave residual build-up of product, or shampoo or conditioner on the scalp and that can cause damage, make the hair heavy and lanky, or make your hair oilier more quickly,” he explains. “My biggest tip is when you think you’ve rinsed enough, rinse for 60 seconds more – rinse the sh*t out of your hair! Really saturate and go as cold as you can.”
- Conditioner: Follow up with conditioner and again, be sure to rinse thoroughly!