WORLD Hair and Skin's Brian Phillips On Creating a Haircare Range For Everyone

Haircare for all!

Some beauty brands cater to a specific group, while others try to appeal to everyone. WORLD Hair and Skin falls into the latter category. The concept behind the brand couldn’t be more straightforward: Because it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals or fragrances, it's a line that is suitable for everyone—hence, part of the WORLD theme.

WORLD originally launched in 2001 as a haircare range to be used in the worldSalon in Toronto, and it has since grown to include body products as well. To learn more about the brand and their mission, we talked to founder Brian Phillips from the brand to get the inside scoop.

Tell us how your personal experience led you to create WORLD.

“After being a hairstylist for roughly ten years, I developed a very serious case of contact dermatitis on my hands. Through a process of elimination, I discovered perm solution and hair gel were the culprits, so I stopped exposing myself to them and the condition cleared up on its own. 

This was an epiphany for me. I began looking for healthier products for us to use in the salon, worldSALON in Toronto, but it proved very difficult, so we designed WORLD Hair and Skin and released the first prototypes in 2001. It felt great being able to offer healthier products for our staff to use and also to recommend to clients and other interested parties.” 


What challenges did you face when developing the line?

“One of our biggest challenges was the fragrance-free aspect. In 2001, many people told us the line wouldn't succeed without fragrance. We decided to do one better and created the WORLD BLENDS essential oil blends; this way those who wanted a scent could add therapeutic grade essential oils to their products. We liked the bespoke idea of personalized scents and the fact that you could adjust the essential oils seasonally to purify, strengthen, and enhance the hair and skin was an additional benefit. Another challenge was presenting the minimalist concept of the line. Many were skeptical of the multi-use idea, but after 16 years and many positive reviews, we are happy to be a small footprint beauty alternative."

How did you come up with the name?

“One of my favorite films of all time is ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth,’ with David Bowie. In the film, he plays an alien that comes to earth in search of water to bring back to his dying planet. With the advanced technology from his world, he develops patents that make him very wealthy in a short time. He creates a company that eventually has enough money to start a space travel program and that company is called World Enterprises—we dropped the Enterprises. I don't want to give any more away, you should see it if you haven't!”

What are people’s reactions to you creating a product without fragrance?

“Many people have become sensitized to the fragrance in products especially over the last two decades. There are a group of chemicals called phthalates in fragrance, which have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and other illnesses. These toxic chemicals help fragrances last longer in products and also help them to bind. ‘Fragrance free’ was a tough sell for us at first, but now with so many people having sensitivities and other health challenges, fragrance has lost some of its cache.” 

How important is it for you to use ingredients that aren’t harmful?

“It is absolutely essential. Our line is free of all the toxic top ten chemicals—fragrance, color, parabens, sulphates, phthalates, gluten, and palm oil-free and the line biodegrades. “ 

 What are some of your favorite ingredients to use?

“I personally love the beeswax in BUZZ and BELIEVE. I love how it smells, how well it seals the skin, and it holds other emollients in place. It is quite stiff at room temperature, but just a little heat from the palm of your hands is enough to smooth it out to apply to hair. Then as it cools down, it gives great support to styles that require volume and texture. I also love hydrosols (in the OCEAN salt spray) and essential oils. They have been used for thousands of years and like medicine, if they’re administered properly, they can be very healing. Coconut oil and virgin coco crème are also amazing ingredients that have so many benefits.”

What's your typical workday like? 

“I usually start my day with either a run or gym workout. I ran the New York Marathon in 2015, so I am presently taking a break from really long runs and enjoying 5 to 10Ks to give my body a break. I am an early riser, so on the days I am in the salon, I start at 8:00AM and finish around 4:30PM. I don't own a car, so I bike 12 months of the year to get around the city. Even after a very hectic day, getting on the bike and pedaling home is not only energizing, but a great stress reliever.” 

What is the biggest piece of advice you've learned through running the brand?

“Being a smaller company and growing organically is the best way to be. When we first started and met with consultants and distributors, the thought of landing the big accounts and jumping into the large volume game seemed to be the dream. We have since learned that it is more important to take care of one client at a time and try to make their whole experience of WORLD Hair and Skin be the best it can be. We have been nimble enough to tweak formulations and change packaging as we have been growing, which is extremely difficult for larger companies.”    

What are your favorite products in the range?

“CLEAN, BUZZ, and BELIEVE. CLEAN is all I have washed my hair and body with for 16 years. I am especially sensitive to fragrance, so I love how pure and gentle it is, and I can shave with it. Traveling is a breeze.”

What has been your proudest moment so far?

“Receiving the ‘Green Champion Award for Environmental Stewardship’ from Environment Defence for ‘25 years of leadership in sustainable business practices and progressive work eliminating toxic chemicals in personal care products’ in February 2015.”  

What's next for the brand?

“Expanding WORLD Hair and Skin into the Vancouver and Los Angeles markets.”

Have you tried any WORLD Hair and Skin products? Which are your favorites?