Anna Cofone on starting ‘Hair & Care’ and increasing beauty’s accessibility

by | Jun 22, 2023

Over 2 million people in the UK are living with sight loss, however, the beauty industry is falling behind when it comes to increasing accessibility. Anna Cofone is driven to make the change…

You’ll know Anna Cofone from her modern and versatile hair styling across magazine covers, films – and of course, Lana Del Rey. Now, the stylist is calling on her industry colleagues and brands to do more for people living with sight loss. 

Having witnessed first-hand the effect that blindness has on self-esteem, Anna is driven to ‘empower people – irrespective of the fact they can’t see how they look, or what they are doing’. 

Enter Hair & Care, a CIC founded by Cofone in 2019. Started to provide in-person hairstyling workshops for people with sight loss, the charity was forced to migrate online during the pandemic. This was when it found its feet, becoming part of the Royal Society of Blind Children’s Sisterhood project, which provided a safe space for young girls and women with blindness during the lockdowns. 

Back in person, the workshops still strive to address the same issues, Cofone explains: ‘We teach everything from the very basics of addressing what type of texture hair a person has and defining what their needs are, to introducing them to new products and care routines. We also explore different brushes and how to use them to style hair, as well as using heated tools and accessories.’ 

What drove Cofone to make a difference herself? 

‘My experience of growing up with a blind parent and seeing how – irrespective of him being completely blind – whenever he would do his own hair and dress well, his self-esteem would be boosted,’ she shares, before also highlighting the primary care gap that exists for people who develop blindness. 

‘Only 1% of blind and partially sighted people are born blind, most people lose their eyesight in their teens and early twenties. Those people do not get the support they need to adapt from having sight and seeing oneself in the mirror, to have to learn how to do hair and feel good about appearance post-blindness.’

But, it’s not only about hair styling for lots of the workshop attendees, Cofone tells me more about the ‘ripple effect’ that Hair and Care has. ‘The confidence Hair & Care promotes helps people to overcome other challenges in their lives. The general feedback – not just from attendees but also their carers – is that attendees are more independent,’ she explains. 

Brands and businesses are beginning to invest in research and development when it comes to making beauty more accessible – see Estée Lauder’s AI Voice Assistant – but ‘there is still a lot more to do.’ 

Hair & Care is supported by several brands, which donate products used in workshops and for selling as a funding stream. Cofone says: ‘The first step is these brands supporting us and donating. We plan to go back to these businesses and help to raise awareness through research and focus groups.’ 

Denman has an ongoing relationship with the CIC and has worked with the team to create co-branded hair brushes. 100% of the funds earnt from the sale of these tools will go to Hair & Care to support workshop attendees and volunteers. You can find out more about the collaboration, here

On top of raising money for the workshops, Cofone hopes that Hair & Care will soon be ‘recognised as an organisation that is making a difference and for that to encourage and motivate hair brands to want to explore conversations about making tools and products more accessible.’ 

The Hair & Care team is calling on industry colleagues to volunteer for the Hackney-based charity, to aid the development of workshops. You can find more information on becoming a volunteer here

What’s more, Cofone has launched a two-day masterclass for aspiring session stylists and salon owners who want to learn more about what it takes to master professional hair styling – all funds from this course will be donated to Hair & Care. Learn more about taking part here

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