Christophe Robin: Getting to the Root of Great Hair
Thanks to his eponymous line of products, Christophe Robin has single-handedly transformed the way we take care of our hair and scalps, no fancy salons necessary.
As a 14-year-old, Christophe Robin started his career as an apprentice in a hair salon in the small French village where he grew up. A few decades later, Robin is one of the best-known names in hair care, and not just because he has colored some of the most famous manes in the world. Thanks to his eponymous line of products, Robin has single-handedly transformed the way we take care of our hair and scalps from the comfort of our own bathrooms, no fancy salons necessary.
Inspired by his childhood mentor to “the idea that hair coloring must go hand-in-hand with hair maintenance,” Robin spent his early career advocating that a healthy canvas was crucial to hair’s appearance and its ability to take color well. “I was lucky enough to color the hair of some of the most famous supermodels,” he says. “Sometimes we would have to change their colors up to four times a week — imagine the damage! I could not find anything on the market that would protect the hair before applying color [or] a shampoo that would wash it in the most gentle way.” So he made his own.
Combining his deep knowledge of hair health with a list of impeccable ingredients — many of which are common in skincare! — and a true desire to bring a world-class salon experience to everyone, Robin’s products have deep roots in our hearts (and scalps). Below, the hair health maestro walks us through how and why he creates new products, the beauty of incorporating ancient self-care rituals into a daily routine, and, of course, the right way to wash your hair.
For a hair care line, many of the products actually focus on the scalp. The hero ingredients in your line — prickly pear seed oil, rose water, rassoul clay — are more often seen in skincare products. Why is scalp health and care so vital?
Since the beginning of my career, it has been obvious to me that healthy hair and beautiful color cannot exist without good care. So, everything has been focused on creating products rich in natural, active ingredients to provide deep care to the hair and scalp. The lab we have been working with since the beginning is [primarily] a skincare lab [and many of] our products obviously also focus on the scalp and the notion that a healthy and balanced scalp results in healthy hair. A healthy scalp is the root to healthy hair.
How do you begin the process of formulating a new product? What inspires you to add something to your line?
Nature is my biggest source of inspiration. Through my travels and being close to nature I’ve found incredible ingredients that I use in my hair care line: prickly pears in Morocco, inula flowers on the coast of Brittany.
Some of your products may surprise people — the Cleansing Volumizing Paste instead of traditional shampoo, for example. How do you convince someone to try something new that may be outside their comfort zone?
I think people are more willing to try new things in hair today than they were a few years ago, similar to what happened in skincare. It’s our role as an innovative brand to educate consumers on why they should exfoliate their scalp, how to take care of their color, and to explain the benefits of each ingredient, which ingredients to avoid, etc.
Is there a right or wrong way to wash your hair?
I usually recommend washing your hair up to 2-3 times a week. Use very little shampoo — you really don’t need that much — and emulsify with water. [People tend to use] a lot of toxic products [on] our scalps with all the styling, dry shampoos and shampoos with silicones that have arrived on the market, hence it’s important to always rinse really thoroughly to remove all of that to be able to get the benefits of your products.
What should everyone know about evaluating the health of their scalp and hair, and choosing the right products for what they need?
You should diagnose your hair based on your scalp, not your ends. If you have an itchy, dry and flaky scalp, then you are in need of a purifying product that will rebalance and soothe your scalp. If you have an especially dry and irritated scalp that is damaged, then a regenerating product will help to repair and nourish.
How do you strike a balance between clean products and hair care that actually works? Are there synthetic ingredients that are safe and effective?
It’s definitely a challenge which requires a lot of compromise, but it’s also become incredibly confusing: What does one consider clean? I think there are great synthetic ingredients that work very well. Even though they are not 100% natural, they are completely safe and clean. As far as my products are concerned, I always avoid what I consider harmful for the hair (silicones or phthalates) or just not doing any good for it (mineral oils).
You’ve worked in some of the most exclusive salons with some of the most iconic hair in the world, but your products make it so that anyone can have that salon experience and care at home. Why is it important to you to bring that level of care and expertise to everyone?
Care has been an integral part of my philosophy from the beginning. Beautiful hair color cannot exist without good care; this is why maintenance is crucial. I created this line to share my expertise as a colorist and to provide deep care for hair at home. I wanted something that everyone could experience and enjoy.
What’s the single most important thing someone can do for the health of their hair?
Ultimately, it all comes down to diet and lifestyle. Consuming the necessary omegas, nutrients, and especially sticking as much as possible to seasonal fruits and vegetables makes a difference for your hair, skin and nails. Also, it never hurts to give yourself a good scalp massage on a regular basis to reactivate blood circulation, boost healthy growth and make your hair stronger in the long term.
What does “beauty” mean to you?
I am fascinated by natural beauty and the techniques used to enhance it. I want people to say a woman is beautiful and not that she has a beautiful hair color. My advice to women who want to color their hair is to stay true to themselves — wanting to be someone you are not will never work. To me, beauty is more than how we look. I have worked with some of the most gorgeous people, but the most beautiful are the people with genuine personalities.
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