Having first met Colm at college when they were both studying business and finance, Helen won multiple awards for her hair styling before finding herself in New York working with McKnight. “My first show with him was L’Wren Scott’s in London in 2013, and from there I was doing Chanel, Fendi - all the top shows in Paris - and that same year I went on tour with Alicia Keys. It was a brilliant whirlwind,” she says.
It was then that Act+Acre was born, at least as an idea. “I went to one of her shows and realised that Helen wasn’t just a hairstylist,” says Colm. “She was the golden thread of the show; the creative director pulling the entire look together - which is when I first started thinking about creating a brand.”
So what’s the secret ingredient?
“When I work with someone, no matter who they are, it’s about making them feel special and at ease,” says Helen. “I think a hairdresser often plays the role of a therapist for their client so we wanted to create a line of products that was not only high performing, but also helped capture that moment of relaxation. We’re a wellbeing brand that is good inside and out.”
Helen credits her “curious mind” for her success. “I always wanted to understand how everything is all connected,” she says. “I realised that if I started with a proper scalp massage my customer would feel calm and connected and we got better results - and that eventually got me thinking about how shampoo is made. So often they claim to be full of essential oils but I wanted to know how they maintain efficacy once they have been heated to such a degree during traditional production processes.”
The subsequent discovery that any essential oils essentially no longer existed, having evaporated away, resulted in Helen and Colm’s search for a better idea. The result of their cold processing invention is that all of the efficacy and nutrients of the natural oils included in their products - baobab, moringa, amaranth, basil leaf, ylang ylang, vetiver, rosemary, lavender - remain fully effective. “We realised the molecular structure remained the same - it was thrilling,” says Helen. “We called our lawyer and applied for a patent on the idea straight away.”