Back in the day, when a young lady wanted to rebuff a suitor, she would quip, “Sorry, I have to wash my hair,” knowing full well that the task would never occupy the entire night. But in 2012, just wading through the sea of shampoo and conditioner choices at the local drug store might take that long.
That’s because the number of SKUs in the hair care market has increased dramatically, fueled by consumers’ desires to find a shampoo and conditioner formulation that appears to be built just for them, at a price that fits their budget, whether they purchase product at the supermarket, salon or elsewhere.
Data from SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm, shows sales of shampoos rose 3.43% to $2.56 billion at supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 7, 2012. Unit sales slipped a scant 0.09%. Hair conditioner/creme rinse sales sold at the same shops during the same period rose 4.66% to $1.76 billion and unit sales were up 1.44%, according to SymphonyIRI’s figures.
to roll out more sophisticated formulations that incorporate natural ingredients but steer clear of so-called questionable chemistry (like sulfates), inspired by their cousins in the salon market.
According to Cyrus Bulsara of Plano, TX-based Professional Consultants & Resources, leading the way are salon brands like Kerastase, Paul Mitchell, Pureology, American Crew, Nioxin, Sexy Hair and Wella, which constantly roll out new products with new ingredients.
That steady stream of innovation has helped the salon sector succeed even in this lackluster economy. Bulsara said that in the first three quarters of 2012, salon-only shampoos have been growing at around 2%, and conditioners at around 2.5%.
“Most of the growth is coming from hair color–protection products, men’s products and new genres of hair care items that incorporate natural oils, new proteins, new silks and age-reversing emollients for older, mature hair,” he said.
The Aging of the Age of Aquarius
In fact, there are growth opportunities in reaching consumers whose hair seems to be diminishing.
That’s right; Baby Boomers who once sported hippy hair are now battling aging tresses, and they want products designed for their specific needs, like thinning, breakage and dullness.
“With an aging population around the globe, anti-aging claims are seen in all categories of hair care products, but they are definitely the strongest in the care category,” noted Nancy Mills, industry manager, consumer products practice at market analysis group Kline & Company.
A new launch in the anti-aging hair care sector comes by way of Procter & Gamble’s Pantene Expert Collection, which features AgeDefy. Designed for women in their 40s and older—when hair appears thinner through loss of density, diameter and damage that leads to breakage—Age Defy shampoo and conditioner combat both the intrinsic (hair below the scalp and linked to chronological age) and extrinsic (hair above the scalp and independent of age) symptoms of aging. When paired with the line’s thickening treatment, the regimen can help hair “act up to 10 years younger” by thickening existing hair strands, according to P&G officials.
Atlantic Coast Media Group (ACMG) has another age-related hair solution. Developed by Tammy Yaiser, VP-product development at ACMG and Mindy Goldstein, PhD, VP of R&D (and former president of the national Society of Cosmetic Chemists), Keranique is targeted to a woman’s biochemistry to treat female hair thinning and hair loss and prevent the root cause of issues associated with the aging of hair. Each product is enriched with a complex of keratin, amino acids and proteins to help strengthen and fortify thinning hair, along with vegetable-derived humectants that help to hydrate, nourish and stimulate micro-circulation around the hair follicles.
The starting point is Keranique Volumizing Shampoo, which gently deep cleans, stimulates and nourishes the scalp and follicles and removes oil and build up that drags hair down. Keranique Volumizing Conditioner, the second step, coats the hair to make each strand thicker and protects fine hair with a unique cream-gel formula. The range also includes treatments and serums as well two styling SKUs, according to ACMG, which is the parent company of skin care brand Hydroxatone.
Rhode Island-based hair restoration expert Dr. Robert Leonard, chief surgeon and founder of Leonard Hair Transplant Associates, has channeled his 25 years of experience in dealing with thinning hair into a new topical product called Copper Chemist.
“What I’ve learned in that time—and what I always tell my patients— is that healthy follicles are the key to truly healthy hair. If your follicles are healthy, your hair will naturally look fuller, thicker and nicer,” he said. “There are many wonderful, natural ingredients that have proven health benefits to our hair and skin, and I used many of these in beneficial amounts to accomplish that goal.”
At the heart of the line are copper peptides, which have been shown in some studies to increase hair growth.
“In human plasma, the level of GHK-Cu is about 200ng/ml at age 20. But, as we age, these levels decrease. By age 60, it’s around 80ng/ml. This helps to explain in part why hair changes as we age,” said Dr. Leonard, who says the line’s rosemary mint fragrance makes it an option for both genders.
While Copper Chemist is billed as unisex, there is a growing cadre of men’s only hair care products on store shelves.
“Products for men are a strong trend with all key players launching at least one product line in this category,” noted Mills of Kline.
Even Head & Shoulders, the behemoth in the $500 million anti-dandruff shampoo category, offers Refresh for Men. Infused with natural mint extract, it provides a cool, refreshing clean and promises 100% flake-free hair, according to the P&G brand.
Another key category in today’s hair care market is repair, stemming from women’s love affair with treatments and tough-on-the-hair styling practices that give them the look they crave, but genetics didn’t provide.
“In an attempt to achieve beautiful looking locks, women today are assaulting their hair and scalp with more chemical and thermal processes than ever before,” said James Grundy, an in-house chemist for Eufora, Vista, CA.
The salon professional brand’s new Beautifying Elixirs line was developed as a product that would help to repair, restore and protect the hair from these types of services.
“They blend some of the most exciting and advanced repairing and color protecting ingredients in our industry,” said Grundy.
For example, the base is Allplant Essence of Sage and Thyme, not water, and products contain several specialty actives to help repair, restore and protect the hair against the daily assaults from UV and oxidation as well as chemical and thermal damage.
Salon brand Eufora’s new Beautifying Elixirs line has shampoos and conditioners that help repair, restore and protect hair.
Damage Cure Complex works on the inner structure and outer cuticle of the hair fiber. The proprietary complex penetrates deep into the hair shaft to repair damage, restore lipids, amino acids and important nutrients critical for strong, healthy hair. One of the key ingredients is 18-methyl eicosanoic acid, or 18 MEA, which replenishes the natural lipid in between the scales of the cuticle, restores moisture to the cuticle and protects the integrity of hair fiber and cortex from future damage and creates shine.
According to Grundy, Eufora has identified an ingredient that biologically mimics 18-MEA, which is found naturally on the surface of the hair through a covalent thioester linkage to keratin.
“Essentially, 18-MEA has a hydrophobic function on the surface of the hair fiber that helps to align the hair fiber while decreasing combing forces caused by friction in both wet and dry states,” he said.
Damage Cure Complex also contains several amino acids, peptides and proteins that penetrate deep into the hair shaft to help repair the damage caused by environmental, chemical and thermal processes.
“This is really important, especially for color treated hair, as it helps to repair the damage within the cortex allowing color to have something to adhere to. You can try to protect the color all you want, but if your hair is like Swiss cheese, color will not adhere.”
Beautifying Elixirs’ Vibrant Color Complex helps to protect hair color from oxidative and UV stresses to increase luminosity and maintain hair color. It contains Chromaveil, Brazil nut oil, polyquaternium 55 and antioxidants of green tea and cranberry oil.
Salon brand Malibu C has rolled out Un Do Goo Shampoo, a 100% vegan product that detoxifies hair by removing resins from styling products and restores shine, softness and manageability without leaving hair feeling dry, as the brand says can happen with other clarifying shampoos. An exclusive sulfate-free, multifunctional surfactant technology delivers a gentle, yet powerfully effective, shampoo formula, while plant-based proteins help rebuild hair proteins that have been depleted from resin buildup.
With chemical services and all kinds of salon treatments in vogue, consumers look for ways to maintain the results of these pricey processes.
To that end, Redken has developed a shampoo and conditioner designed to lengthen the results of Smooth Lock, its two-step semi-permanent system that gently and temporarily smoothes strands for a sleek look that lasts up to 10 shampoos. By using Smooth Lock Shampoo and Smooth Lock Conditioner (and Stay Sleek, a leave-in cream) users can extend the service for an additional three shampoos, according to the brand.
On the opposite side of the hairstyling spectrum, Redken also offers Curvaceous, which is recommended for hair types ranging from wavy hair of type II to spiral curls of type VI (based on the curl pattern scale created by parent company L’Oréal). The range includes a cream shampoo in a sulfate-free, low lathering formula designed to gently cleanse curly hair without removing natural oil, and a conditioner that can be used as rinse out or leave-in product.
Keranique is targeted to a woman’s biochemistry to treat female hair thinning and hair loss.
“In a 10,000 stroke brush test using this formula, the hair was approximately a third less likely to break thanks to lightweight ingredients such as protective polymers,” added Pagliarulo.
Another one of Not Your Mother’s best selling SKUs is its Clean Freak dry shampoo, billed as the ultimate quick fix, as it absorbs excess oils, cleans without water and provides instant results without leaving any white residue in the hair.
Also offering an alternative to traditional shampoo is Macadamia Natural Oil, which has rolled out Flawless. Without sulfates and surfactants, Flawless gently rinses hair of dirt and debris while restoring its bounce, shine and vitality with a technologically-advanced blend of botanicals, active ingredients and emollients that gently cleanse and condition without stripping hair. It contains macadamia and argan oils, chamomile extract, panthenol and a unique peptide to help strengthen hair. In addition, Flawless features a unique technology that reduces the size of the water molecule, dramatically speeding up blow-drying time to slow down hair damage and leave hair prepped and ready for styling, according to the brand.
Not in My Shampoo
While companies are quick to highlight key ingredients in their shampoos and conditioners, these days it’s also about what’s not in the mix, a trend driven by user demands for products that are free from chemicals that are flagged—rightly or wrongly—as harsh or unsafe.
“The greatest challenges faced by US hair care product marketers, are to keep away from harmful ingredients like SLS/ SLES, propylene/polyethylene glycol, mineral oils, parabens (propyl, methyl, butyl, ethyl etc.), urea, DEA/MEA/TEA and harmful synthetic colors and fragrances,” said Bulsara.
“These changes are being made very effectively in Europe and it is incumbent on US manufacturers to follow suit.”
Macadamia Natural Oil offers Flawless as an alternative to traditional shampooing.
“Eufora tries hard to comply with the ever-changing professional hair care market which, as a formulator, may not be 100% based on scientific research,” said Grundy, who played a major role in crafting the Beautifying Elixirs line, which is free from artificial aromas, colorants, sulfates, sodium chloride, parabens, phthalates, gluten, mineral oil, petrolatum, propylene glycol and formaldehyde.
For his Copper Chemist line, Dr. Leonard also looked to eliminate select ingredients, nixing sulfates, phthalates and parabens as well “harsh detergents and chemicals that are being used by many big manufacturers.”
Yet Bulsara contends that many of the biggest brands in the hair care market, companies such as P&G, L’Oréal, Paul Mitchell and TIGI, are already making good strides in this direction, and “Sexy Hair has been at the forefront in many of these positive moves,” he said.
In the end, it boils down to crafting a product that works—and testing it to make sure it delivers on those promises.
In developing the Beautifying Elixirs line with Eufora founder Don Bewely, Grundy went through hundreds of formulas to identify the proper balance of ingredients that “Don and our educators felt was the ‘right’ combination to get the job done.”
Grundy continued, “Eufora takes great pride in utilizing the actives we do at the correct concentrations to ensure that our product does what it says it does.” He continued, “At the end of the day, if the product doesn’t actually perform and feel like it is doing what it says it’s supposed to do, the client will never purchase again.”