The hair, beauty and wellness guru—and photographer—travelled to Kenya to focus his philanthropic eye on a photography book benefiting a worthy cause.

For Ray Civello, water is not merely a substance used in the beautifying process in his hair salons, but he has learned firsthand how it can change a single life and transform entire communities.

The hair, beauty and wellness guru—and photographer—travelled to Kenya with WaterAid Canada, the charity organization whose mission is to provide safe water, sanitation and hygiene to people living in some of the poorest regions of the world. (An estimated 900 children five and younger die each day around the world as a result of unsafe water.) Civello took a series of soulful portraits of children facing this plight, and his photos are published in the book, One Life, with all proceeds benefitting the organization.

“We know water is fundamental for humanity,” says the 60-year-old. “But education on hygiene is equally important as providing the water.”

This marks the philanthropist’s second such endeavour, previously publishing a book of portraits from India.

Celebrated for his hairdressing, Civello has parlayed his entrepreneurial spirit into an empire that at the time of publication includes 11 salons and the operation of 16 Aveda retail stores in North America.

He fell into the business almost on a lark. Following the advice of a friend, who worked in a hair salon and told him it was a great place to meet girls, he promptly enrolled in hairdressing school, he says laughing. It was still the era of the hairstylist as Lothario, thanks to Warren Beatty and the movie Shampoo.

When he opened his first salon on Jarvis Street in Toronto back in the 1980s, it was a salon of haute hipness with no signage or listed phone number—you either knew it or didn’t. He was also a sought-after hair stylist for fashion shoots, so much so, he started an agency that represented editorial hair and makeup artists and stylists.

But after this high-octane era and developing a series of allergies that sapped his energy, he turned to holistic and naturopathic remedies to cleanse his body. Back in those days, you relied on word of mouth for remedies, he says. Serendipitously, it was around the same time he got involved with Aveda, one of the early beauty companies that advocated plant-based products, eco-friendly practices and a holistic approach to beauty.

Today, he cuts an ever-stylish figure with a trim body toned from yoga and an obsession with golf— and a wardrobe, worn here, that whispers quiet luxury. His success allows him to indulge—in his spare time, he collects art and renovates and decorates homes, only to turn around and sell them. “I don’t get attached to material things,” he says. “My one attachment is my son.”

Not only is Ray Civello a philanthropist, he also has a fantastic sense of style. Scroll through for some of his favourite looks.

Jacket, Dries van Noten; scarf, Shanhai tang; pants, Prada; shoes, Dolce & Gabanna. 


Suit, Paul Smith; shoes, Prada.


Jacket, APC; jeans, United.


Jacket, Helmut Lang; shirt, Paul Smith; sneakers, Acne Studio.

A version of this article appeared in the September 2016 issue with the headline, “Mane Man,” p. 20-21.