Color By Numbers

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | May 2, 2014

The hair colorant marketplace is expanding to include offbeat hues and multi-tonal styles to satisfy a wider age range of clientele.

Alexander Wang. Calvin Klein. Marc Jacobs. Ralph Lauren. Their runways predict what’s next in the world of beauty and fashion. According to Guido Palau, creative consultant at Redken, New York, hair color was a key component for Spring/Summer 2014 fashion inspiration.

“It makes a huge impact on the runway, and in some instances it’s the style itself,” he said. “Young designers today are looking for chic, cool styles—and one way to do that is through hair color. Even when color looks artificial on purpose—like a platinum blonde, jet black or vibrant red—it really elevates a simple style.”

Gerard Caruso, global artist director, Rusk, Stamford, CT, agreed.

“The top trends for hair color products are more daring colors,” he told Happi. “Customers are looking for color longevity, shine and vibrancy.

Considered vastly superior to at-home products, salon coloring is almost always preferred to the retail varieties, insisted Euromonitor in its recent report, Hair Care in the US. According to Euromonitor, as the economy improved this year and women found themselves with more money to spare, they were willing to trade up and abandon their retail colorants for the services offered by professional stylists.

Mintel concurred in its Hair Care Segment performance update. According to the market research firm, the home hair color market is dominated by permanent/demi-/semi-permanent hair color, accounting for 84% of market share. However, this segment has seen sales slip since 2011, likely driven by a combination of factors including more shoppers visiting the salon and an overall competitive landscape within the category.

In contrast, despite the smaller size, the temporary and highlights/touch-ups/bleach segments have posted solid gains between 2011 and 2013, noted Mintel, as temporary color and root touch-ups have attracted a more mature user due to easy and temporary solutions for covering gray hair, helping to drive segment growth.

In the mass market hair coloring category for the 52-week period ending Jan. 26, 2014, total hair color sales maintained at $1.7 billion in total US multi-outlets (supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains), according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. Men’s hair coloring brought in $201 million, while women’s hair color took the lion’s share at $1.5 billion.

Take Home Treatments
According to celebrity colorist Rita Hazan, clients always ask what to do to maintain color in-between salon visits. 

“My Root Concealer, which covers gray hair or grow outs in between salon visits, sprays easily, stays put and there are five shades to match any hair color to cover grays or grow out,” she explained. “It’s also great for men and women with thinning hair because it adds thickness and depth.”

Another burgeoning trend that adds dimension to tresses is the two-tone ombré effect. For at-home usage, L’Oréal Paris is touting its new Superior Preference Ombré Touch. The Luminous Lightening System containing a lifting powder, a lifting crème and a crème developer, can be combined to create a customizable application process which helps to deliver a subtle, sophisticated ombré effect at the ends of tresses.

For an edgy twist on ombré, L’Oréal Paris has introduced Féria Coloured Ombré—the first-to-market at-home hair color kit designed to create a red ombré effect. Inspired by the hottest fashion trends, this innovative kit makes it possible for consumers to add red gradation and contrast to hair for an ultra high-fashion look. The patented Expert Brush, first introduced with the original Féria Wild Ombré, makes it easy for women to apply the cream formula and customize their ombré look where desired, according to the company. Available in one intense red hue, Féria Coloured Ombré is designed for use on medium to dark brown hair and will create a vibrant, customized result that blends beautifully.

L’Oréal Paris is no stranger to hair color innovation. Developed in 1973, L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference was the original inspiration behind the brand’s iconic tagline, “Because I’m Worth It.” This cult product features an Optimized Fade Defying System. Its latest creation is the Superior Preference Paris Lumière Collection, said to bring “the lights of Paris” to at-home hair color with the special edition Paris Lumière Collection. Expertly crafted by global master colorist Christophe Robin, the three ultra-chic shades were inspired by the iconic nighttime lights of this leading French hub. Backed by Superior Preference’s renowned formula, each shade combines light-reflecting gel technology with illuminating effects for brilliant, fade-defying color that lasts up to eight weeks.

Sister brand Garnier also expanded its portfolio with the Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Coloring Creme Magnetic Collection—consisting of three Magnetic Browns and three Magnetic Coppers enriched with avocado, olive and shea fruit oils. Meanwhile, its Olia range branched out to include Garnet Reds.

Especially for Salon
Salon clients are looking for rich, long-lasting color that will not leave their hair feeling damaged or dry, observed Vadre Grigsby, artistic director, Pravana, Woodland Hills, CA.

“Protein-enriched ChromaSilk not only maintains the hair’s integrity but also delivers great shine, while the protein acts as a color carrier for greater longevity,” she explained. “Vegan and gluten-free are hot button words now, and now stylists can send any and every client home with shampoo, conditioning, and styling products that will protect and prolong the color of their hair.”

Sea-sourced components like coral extracts and marine ingredients are also very popular in salon hair color in 2014 because they contain vitamins, proteins and trace minerals that nourish the hair, according to Caruso of Rusk.

“This improves elasticity and rebalance, as well as rebuilds and restores the natural integrity of the hair,” he told Happi.

Rusk’s popular Deepshine Direct color is said to provide “optical color shock for maximum impact,” according to the company, which added four new hues for Spring/Summer—blue, merlot, orange and green. Intense Micro Pure Pigment Technology saturates hair with intense, vibrant color. Advanced Marine Therapy leaves hair looking and feeling healthy. Rusk’s cream formula allows multiple colors to be precisely applied across the same strand.  

According to Matrix celebrity hair stylist George Papanikolas, another prevalent trend in permanent hair color is moving in the direction of ammonia-free formulations. He said, “In the salon, I have transitioned about 80% of my clients from traditional ammonia based permanent hair color to Matrix Color Insider Ammonia free permanent hair color. Clients prefer the no odor, comfortable application and the results are true, sharp and saturated.”

Papanikolas noted consumers also want color that lasts and resists fading. 

“With less swelling of the cuticle, the hair is able to hold onto the color molecules longer and it’s able to reflect more light,” he explained. Matrix’s Color Injection System propels hues directly into the hair’s core and delivers maximum color impact with minimum stress, said Papanikolas.

One more new salon innovation hails from Eufora in the form of a bleaching pod. The new Eufora AloeLite package is designed to keep stylists’ hands out of the bleach. The bleach pod is placed into a nonmetallic mixing bowl and stylists add the chosen developer at a 1:2 mixing ratio. The pouch is made from PVA; a biodegradable water-soluble film used in other applications ranging from laundry detergent unit dose packaging to papermaking and textiles to artificial teardrops. It can deliver shine, help to moisture/condition and protect the hair and scalp, according to the company. Plus the pods help measure out certain amounts of bleach and are portable making things super easy for the stylists.

“Safety is very important to today’s consumers,” noted James Grundy, R&D director, Eufora, Carlsbad, CA. “We made this a top priority when launching the new bleach powder.  AloeLite blue bleach pods are a safer alternative to loose powdered bleach, which can get on hands, clothes and when used incorrectly can cause many safety concerns including burns on the scalp and skin.” 

A Focus on the Future
For the hair color category, Mintel expects slow and steady category growth through 2018, with sales forecast to increase by 13% during that time. Home hair color is a highly discretionary purchase, and also faces significant competition from salon services, added the market research firm. However, a growing interest in natural and organic hair color combined with more customized offerings for an aging population could help drive long-term category growth.

Opportunities exist for new products that better align with the shifting demographics that are impacting the category, added Mintel in its findings. While performance is still paramount, hair coloring products that provide customized solutions based on ethnicity, life stage and hair type will be critical to growing the category.

Ultimately, marketers will need to balance consumer interest in new product benefits while providing them with tools that make the category simpler to shop, Mintel concluded.

The vast spectrum of available hues is also going to expand opportunity within hair colorants.

As Papanikolas of Matrix told Happi, “There was a time when women colored their hair to cover gray... now it’s become a fashion accessory. In the salon, hair color is moving towards a multi-tonal hue. Gone are the days when clients ask to have one solid uniform color. I think we can expect to see more bold color choices, as people always want to change up their look.”

Caruso of Rusk agreed.  “Be on the lookout for even more exciting colors like merlot, blue and orange,” he told Happi. “It’s only going to keep getting more exciting, as color trends continue to push the envelope.”

Top Trends Straight from the Salon
Spring is in the air and nothing greets the season better than a fresh new hair hue. From balayage to hair chalk, there is something for everyone, according to Butterfly Studio Salon’s expert colorists Min Kim and Faye Goodwin:

Balayage: With celebrities like Jessica Biel and Sarah Jessica Parker leading the charge, Balayage, where color is applied by hand rather than with a cap or foil, is sweeping the nation.  What started as a grass-roots movement in the hair world, celebrity influences have made this artistic and personalized highlighting service something that everyone is coveting. Whether it’s minimal with low-maintenance (tone on tone shades of dark to light chocolate) or more classic like a California Blonde (sunny and warm or bright and icy), the endless options are what make this service so desirable. Every girl can become an “it girl” with this gorgeous, light-reflecting hair trend!

Hair Chalk: Straight from the runway, watch for L’Oréal Professionnel’s launch of hair chalk, now available at Butterfly Studio Salon as one of the first salons to offer this service/product. Think of it as makeup for your hair!  The range of colors includes three “natural” and five “fashion” shades, giving the user plenty to play with. It washes out with shampoo and lasts for approximately 10 washes. It’s a fast add-on service at the salon, great for those who love to play with change or are curious about starting a hair-coloring journey.  You can get the effect of hair color, without the chemicals, the damage, or the commitment. Hair chalk can also be applied with the Balayage method, which gives the artist the freedom to create anything on a particular hairstyle—completely customized for the client.

A Wide Range of Reds: In the past few seasons, redheads have been seriously downplayed and are making a strong comeback for 2014. For a perfect redhead look, keep skin tone in mind: cooler, darker shades of red for darker hair color bases and cooler skin tones, and warmer, more golden coppery shades of red for lighter hair color bases and more pale skin tones. Rose gold is making a bold statement in 2014 color trends with celebrities like Rachel McAdams and Jessica Chastain, both sporting this hot rose gold hue.
Cool Hues: Blondes are cooling it down and bringing back vibrant ice-toned shades with silver hues. To make this look work, even with pale skin, ask your colorist to customize the perfect hue to compliment you. The perfect icy blonde is achieved through balayage highlights and a Dialite photo finish (similar to a color gloss) to “ice” the cake. Think celebrities such as Julianne Hough, Cameron Diaz and Cara Delevigne. White hot is the way to go for 2014.

Subtle Blend: Brunettes are extremely versatile for 2014. You are seeing everything from iced cappuccino brunettes á la Mila Kunis to mahogany-based brunettes and everything in between. A new ombré-like look is sweeping the hair color world as the “sombre” effect. This look tones down the drastic former ombré to a much more subtle ombré, where there is a gradual fluidity from a darker base to brighter ends. Think Kim Kardashian’s new look where she is predominantly brunette with subtle light pieces on her ends or Natalie Portman who is also rocking a “sombre” look right now.