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Former John Masters stylist opens a clean-air hair salon in Tribeca

Hale Organic Salon

Tribeca’s just-opened Hale Organic Salon promises cutting-edge cuts and color, and a little something off-menu—air you can breathe.

That’s the M.O. of owner Joe Murray, a ring leader of the city’s natural hair-salon movement. A veteran of John Masters Organics Salon, Murray was one of a group of natural-leaning stylists (we called them the John Masters’ Four) who lost their home when the iconic salon became a retail boutique.

The group rented chairs at Alibi, carrying in their own clean-product kits before hopping around to other salons. Finally, Murray decided they needed a home.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” he says, gesturing towards the open room outfitted with re-purposed wood, wrought iron, and enormous French doors that separate the cutting area from the color. A grand piano acts as the reception desk.

But the most important details are in the air—and keeping it easy-to-breathe, says Murray, who has amassed a New York clientele with severe allergies and sensitivities.

Joe Murray
Joe Murray, owner of Hale Organic Salon, with a client

Anything that produces fumes—such as nail polish and hair spray—is banished to the Fume Room, a sealed-off and specially-vented space in the back of the salon built for the rare occasions when toxic products are necessary. (He offered “brides” as an example.)

Stylists at Hale are currently using John Masters Organics products, but Murray is open to increasing the selection. “Because we’re not tied to a product line, I can go as clean as I want,” he says. “Right now I’m talking to a woman who’s making products in her kitchen, and I’d consider stocking those if they’re also effective.”

Color is a separate challenge, since most cleaner dyes still contain PPD, an ingredient and allergen that’s been linked to various cancers, explains Murray. But Murray chooses the cleanest brands he can find—he likes Schwarzkopf’s Essensity, which is free of ammonia, artificial fragrance, and parabens—and displays all of them openly.

Picking up one hair dye, he tells me, “This one is marketed as ‘organic,’ but it clearly says not to use it on pregnant women. That’s scary!”

It is. But at least, at Hale, there are no secrets lingering in the air. —Lisa Elaine Held