In conversation: With Sabrina Szinay, Founder of Sándor

1. With Sabrina Szinay, Founder of Sándor
May 25, 2021

When we met Sabrina during a fashion shoot in New York a few years ago we were immediately amazed by her passion for hair. She is a third generation hairstylist and the Co-Founder of Sándor - a sustainable and zero waste hair care ritual named after her grandfather, Sándor Szinay. 

We chatted to her about why she created Sándor and what the future of haircare will look like. 

Star sign: Capricorn Sun, Sagittarius Moon, Leo Rising.

Favourite season: Spring/Summer 

Favourite essential oil: Lavender and mint

Favourite plant: Aloe and Mescal 

Favourite tea: Yogi tea

Favourite book: The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz - also find Brian Weiss’ books to be very expanding.

Favourite place on earth: My heart holds a special place for Mexico since I’ve had the most beautiful memories from there. The people are incredible, there’s so much rich culture which I am appreciating dearly. South of Europe is fantastic, there’s much beauty on this planet it’s hard to pin down. 

Personal mantra: “I am grateful. I am enough. I trust myself.” 

Current obsession: My partner :)


Could you tell us more about your story and how you got to the place where you are now?

I was born in Ringkøbing, Denmark, where I grew up in the salon with both my mother and grandfather being a hairstylist. I was very courageous as a kid and grew up in nature which I am very connected to. In my start 20’s, I moved to Copenhagen after finishing beauty school and had a big urge to explore not only myself but the world more. New York seemed very energetic, a bit daunting, but I have always had a thing of throwing myself out where I wasn’t comfortable, to learn to be comfortable in the midst of the noise. Does it make sense? Well, I have learned and grown more than I have ever imagined and continue to do so. I love to expand and see myself evolve. 

How did your passion for sustainability evolve? 

I remember being in my start 20’s on set in Mallorca and someone spoke about “buying local”, I first didn’t really get it and when the sustainable part was explained, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Why didn’t we learn more of this in school? It was step by step of expanding to the concept of considering what impact I have and is something I find exciting - to do the best I can not just for myself but for others and generations to come. For years, I have been questioning the way our society works as well as the corporate power, advertising and misinformation of some of the products that are on the shelves and are in the home. I am doing my best to buy local and support businesses that have a sustainability policy and are innovative in their concepts.


Sándor carries on the legacy of your grandfather [the brand is named after him]. Can you tell us a bit more about him? He grounded himself in nature it is stated on your website e.g. How did he do that? And what is your earliest memory of him? 

My earliest memory is in his garden, every summer he would grow vegetables and fruit in his greenhouse and I felt like he was deeply connected to it and the soil.

It was his residence of peace, as well as his “chair”, where his clients would come and get their hair cut even as he was retired (he continued to cut hair being over 90 y.o, until just weeks before he passed away) His clients was a big part of his life, he was such a social butterfly and loved his community. We would visit our family in Hungary and have dinner slow-cooked on a fire in the garden. His values of family and the contact with nature is definitely something I’ve brought with me and something I will be sharing with my kids one day. 


Was it difficult to find sustainably sourced ingredients in North America?

We specifically chose a lab which only works with natural products and are working with trustworthy suppliers. Sándor’s co-founder Taja is studying sustainability policy on Penn University and it’s been a journey puzzling everything together. Our bottles are made with post industrial aluminum and every bottle saves 51 grams of plastic from entering landfill.. I’m really proud that we’re a zero waste company, which means everything is either recyclable, home compostable or reusable like our pump. Nothing goes to waste where it doesn’t have a purpose. We for example chose aluminum, because it is one of the highest valued packaging materials since it can be recycled infinitely, unlike plastic or glass. 


What’s your plan for the future of Sándor? Are you planning to expand your collection?

My plan is to have a full collection of sustainable and natural hair products, styling as well as more specific hair products - I see such a gap in the market and I know I’m not the only one who’s aware of what I put on my body as well as considering what I’m leaving behind in my selection of care products. 


What inspires you?

People, nature and sacred geometry! I am deeply in awe by the many patterns and shapes that goes again and again in nature. The infinite spiral of a shell, the patterns in sunflowers and the way nature works. I love traveling and seeing how this goes again no matter where you are, which also makes me feel home most places. I’m inspired by people that thinks outside the box and are brave and courageous, who doesn’t care what other people think of them. It’s very liberating.


Are there people that you would love to work with in the future?

I am always open to work with people as long as it stems from a genuine, heartfelt feeling of expanding, creativity, help make a change or help others. I like being around visionaries who have a positive outlook and are expanders. It’s all about where we choose to put our focus, how we perceive the world and what energy we project into it, isn’t it? 


What do you think is the future of hair care?

100% Natural ingredients. It does also depend on the consumer, as you often pay more for natural ingredients. It’s important to make people aware, because the natural ingredients stems from farmers, from nature. It’s not chemical which can be produced fairly cheap. I hope we can get more into balance through education, sharing information but also actually put our money where our mouth is. It’s easy to talk about how much one care about the environment but then still go down in the deli and buy product with a high amount of toxics or products with ingredients that’s not able to break down or being cleansed from our waterways. Then that’s not aligning with the words coming out. Accountability toward one self and ones values I think are important not just for our future, but also for our inner peace. The subconscious mind are with us in all we say and do.


What’s your favourite recent trend in hair care? 

I’ve really enjoy seeing more of the 70’ies waves, not so constructed hair. I’m generally not into “trends” but look at more historic inspiration and go for what feels right for the circumstances I’m working with. 


How often should we generally cut our hair for it to be healthy?

It really depends on the structure, condition and the amount of heat tools one use etc. Personally I don’t use heat tools often and I like to do a reshape every ~ 8 weeks on long hair, even if it’s just a “dust off” of the ends. Shorter hair might want a touch up earlier to keep the shape. 


Except from using your own lovely products, what are your tips for healthy hair?

I love adding either Jojoba oil or Argan oil in my ends after a shower. Depends on the structure, if very dry I sometimes add a tiny bit of shea butter as well, which has a much more binding and moisturizing quality.


What’s your hair care routine?

I wash and condition with Sándor every 3-4 day, sometimes I add oil, sometimes I forget. I use a silk scarf usually if I’m in the sun for longer, to protect it from drying out too much. I do like when I don’t have too many products and keep it super simple. When I remember, I brush my hair with Mason Pearson and call it a day:) 


Can you tell us about your own beauty and wellness rituals?

I like things simple and easy and I like to know the products I’m using doesn’t have harmful ingredients both for my own sake and the environment. 


What does beauty mean to you?

It’s such a cliche, but it IS true - it does come from the inside. We are all energy and when we learn to really look beyond, we see the beauty of others on how their eyes, smile etc is shining - which always can be seen as authentic or not. I look in the eye of people and see through if they’re happy or not, even with a smile on their face. We all have off days. At a difficult part in my life I saw how my eyes were more “turned off”, I really understand the saying that they’re “the window to the soul”. So - I think beauty is when a person is shining from the inside out. 


What does wellness mean to you?

It can mean many thing, material as spiritual and the way we think about ourselves. My partner in life has taught me so much about how thoughts are the most important tool we have, we are our own creators and the world we chose to see. Wellness is a very big thing and is only becoming more influential as I think we discover more and more how important it actual is for our physical and mental state. 


What’s your favourite scent?

I am loving the smell of fresh sage, mint, lemon and lime. Right now I use BASIUM body oil as scent. I am not using fragrance perfume, essential oils is my go to and I’m feeling experimental in this current time.


What’s a beauty product that you could not live without?

100% The Grounding Collection shampoo, I would not want to ever wash my hair in anything sulfate after having this in my life. Very satisfying not having the fight with frizzy, dry hair anymore and hair that looks amazing on the first day. 


What’s your favourite hair brush?

Mason Pearson 


Do you have a particular stress management technique?

Breath. The way of turning your thoughts around, focusing on something bigger, better. Gratitude.