By  on March 13, 2009

Hairstylist Laurent DuFourg envisions someday developing a fully eco-friendly salon from scratch, but for now he is attempting to raise the bar for green hair care with the new Privé Products line Concept Vert.

Launching on April 22 — Earth Day — Concept Vert’s first two products, Rejuvenating Pure Shampoo for $28 and Rejuvenating Pure Conditioner for $30, are packaged in sturdy aluminum that can be returned to Privé Products via salons for reuse. The amount of product in a 7-oz. can is equivalent to at least 14 ounces because only a quarter-sized dollop of Concept Vert’s shampoo or conditioner is needed for a head of hair.

“I really think the planet needs it big time,” said DuFourg. “It is not just a shampoo with no preservatives and no animal testing. We need to go beyond that.” He stressed that Concept Vert doesn’t sacrifice performance for the greater good. “There are a lot of things on the market that pretend to be green, but they don’t deliver,” he said. “I know the product is really working.”

Concept Vert started with the premise that its formula should be free of many hot-button artificial ingredients, including parabens, sulfates, gluten and phlalates. The shampoo and conditioner are certified Environmentally Preferred Products, meaning 50 percent of the ingredients are sourced from replenishable materials and that volatile organic compounds are 50 percent lower than typical for the category.

It took DuFourg more than two years to perfect the soufflélike formula, which contains açaí and babassu oil extracted from palms to strengthen and revitalize hair. Before application, users are instructed to add water to the shampoo and rub their hands together with conditioner on them to generate creamy foam. A mousse intended for customers with hair from straight and fine to thick and curly will be the next product in the Concept Vert assortment.

Concept Vert will be sold in roughly 500 salons in the U.S. Jackie Applebaum, chief executive officer of Privé Products, said economic uncertainty made calculating a revenue projection for Concept Vert this year nearly impossible, but expressed confidence about the line’s positioning and disclosed she has ordered the minimum of 30,000 cans.

“We have had a tremendous amount of interest from salons that want green product. They don’t feel there is enough of a selection out there,” she said. “Because the product itself is so unusual, I think we are going to get a tremendous response.”

About two years ago, DuFourg and Applebaum wrestled control of Privé Products from Procter & Gamble Co. The beauty behemoth had picked up Privé Products when it acquired Wella, which, in turn, garnered the Privé Products license when it acquired Graham Webb. Privé Products markets 25 stockkeeping units.

After P&G was out of the picture, DuFourg told WWD in 2007 that he planned to grow Privé Products into a $20 million brand in two years. The troubled economy has blunted those plans. Applebaum said Privé Products pulls in under $10 million in annual revenues and was profitable in November, December and January. She added she’d be “happy” with 10 to 15 percent growth this year.

“We have a much better understanding of the business, and we have streamlined the back end so we run very efficiently,” said Applebaum. “That was not the case when P&G was running it.”

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