Features

Going Pro

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | June 2, 2014

Professional brands are at the cutting edge of the hair care category—a category that will always be shaped by the overall economy. Happi checks in with experts from the bench and behind the styling chair.

When it comes to cut, color and care, no one does it better than a professional. Brands sold exclusively (for the most part) through hair salons are on the cutting edge of the sector, driving trends from fine-tuned formulations to sexy, spot-on styles. So when American women and men want great looking hair, they know salons are the starting point.

Whether they can afford it is another story. The US salon hair care market—which was valued at approximately $65.03 billion last year (at salon revenue dollars)—is heavily impacted by changes in the economy. When money’s tight, more women will stretch out times between cuts and color treatments and turn to lower-price mass brands to help bridge the gap between salon appointments.

“The biggest challenge to all salon marketers is the failing US economy, which has hurt overall growth in 2013 to be reduced to 2.8%,” said industry expert Cyrus Bulsara of Professional Consultants & Resources, Plano, TX.  “All types of salon service revenues also grew only a scant 2.68% and consequently sales of hair care and all categories of salon/spa products had virtually matching growth.”

According to Bulsara, industry issues that impeded growth in the past—such as distribution realignments, M&A, brand consolidation and intense competition—have been resolved, but the US economy and other “new salon industry economic factors” are impacting the category. “These include the burgeoning growth of chair and suite rental salons, lower frequencies of visits for cuts and color/straightening and lower salon-retailing, all due to lower disposable incomes on discretionary spending.”

Bulsara pointed to performances recorded by key distributors—Beauty Systems Group (BSG/CosmoProf), based in Denton, TX, and Largo, FL-based SalonCentric—as indicators.

“Sally’s BSG grew at around 2.8%, and SalonCentric declined 2.7%,” he said about each’s 2013 revenues. “These two major bellwether distributorships dominate a large market share of the salon industry, and their health is highly indicative of industry health, future trends and industry prognosis.”

On the bright side, a lackluster economy has helped some sectors. For example, styling product sales rose 4.3% and specialty products (thermal protectors, shines and glazes and hair regrowth/volumizers) increased 4.8%, fueled by DIY trends at-home and an aging population, according to Professional Consultants & Resources.

It is up to professional brands to deliver these products and others to hungry clients—whether they are the consumer at home or the hair stylist behind the chair. To gauge what’s happening right now in the professional hair care sector, Happi checked in with experts on the front lines of R&D, education and products about their newest launches, key ingredients and more.


American Crew
Craig Hanson, creative director

HAPPI: Tell us about your newest product.
HANSON: The newest is Alternator, a flexible styling and finishing spray. In most gels, the polymer makes it dry to crystal form, but in this, the bonds are flexible. It’s a new polymer-based technology we found in Japan that allows men to restyle and reshape hair throughout the day. It has remarkable memory and a lot of flexibility.

HAPPI: What do you see as your hero SKU?
HANSON: At American Crew we are known for Fiber, a product we developed decades ago that guys have really related to. It has control, but a matte finish. Another is our Molding Clay—it is at every photo shoot and video shoot. When we are stumped, we go to that. It is clay, and it can be intimidating to people, but you just need to break it down and make it pliable. It gives manipulative hold. It stays there. It isn’t matte and it makes hair look very healthy—like you are fortunate to have high quality hair. It can be groomed and it can be messy. It is a wonder product. 

HAPPI:  How does American Crew reach stylists best?
HANSON: We have a new stylist app that is big deal for us. It was designed because a lot of stylists were geographically challenged and couldn’t attend our academies. The app gives them access to American Crew styling options,  the ability to store client profiles and stay informed on American Crew news.

HAPPI: How important is it for your brand to reach the end consumer?
HANSON: Our goal is to get the stylist to fall in love with the product. They will recommend anything that they love. We have mentions in magazines and POPs that speak to the consumer, but when we get the stylist on board, product flies off the shelves. Fiber is perfect example of that.

HAPPI: What styling trends are you seeing now for men?
HANSON: For a lot of guys, the products need to be a little bit more inconspicuous, and have a little bit of touchability. Also, we as a company are trying to get guys to do different things with their hair and be more adventurous.


IT&LY HAIRFASHION, N.A.
Gary Tenore, director of education

HAPPI: Tell us about the newest products from IT&LY. What has you most excited about these new additions?
TENORE: IT&LY Hairfashion recently released our newest on and off the scalp bleach called “Blondly” cream bleach in a tube and “Light Passion,” a series of sophisticated toners in eight luscious colors. These two products are able to produce unparalleled condition and shine in hair that has never been seen before.

Blondly contains argan oil and jojoba oil to lubricate both scalp and hair and create even bleaching from roots to ends; stays creamy longer—great for balayage and foil work as well as on the scalp with 40 volume Oxily or Aquar&ly developers. It safely bleaches up to seven levels. Light Passion contains palm oil and cocoa butter for luxurious shine and longevity.

HAPPI: Can you talk about some of the other key ingredients that drive these formulations?
TENORE:  Both of these products contain the most advanced antioxidants including IT&LY’s proprietary ACP complex which offers the most reparative and conditioning abilities to extend the longevity of the hair color as well as the condition of the hair strand. Helianthus Anus, aka sunflower oil, Limnanthus alba, soybean oil, wheat germ oil, German chamomile, date nut seed, silk, and a myriad of the finest and measurably beneficial organic and natural conditioning and reconditioning agents are only a few of the many ingredients used.

HAPPI: What is IT&LY’s hero product—one that you believe is not only a customer/stylist favorite but one that stands out to you as exemplifying the brand’s strength in the category?
TENORE: Our hero product is our color, Colorly 2020, the most updated version of the first tube color. It’s a marriage of translucent and opaque pigments in a base of soy, coconut oil essential fatty acids and the exclusive ACP complex with the industry’s first unique dissipating ammonia which is even more conditioning than non-ammonia permanent colors. No color offers better and more stable tonal balance, conditioning and longevity. Colorly has led the industry in premium tube color technology since its introduction and is supported by Aquar&ly, IT&LY’S 100ml 1.5 to 1 tube with the same benefits in a larger tube with its own unique series.

HAPPI: From your perspective, what are some of the challenges that remain in salon hair care?
TENORE: Our challenges are both passion and commitment starting with the stylists, salons, distributors to manufacturers. You cannot be the best without demanding the best of yourself. This means listening, hard work and education with an absolute focus on your customer. You simply cannot expect to get more out of your work than you put into it. We make every effort to fulfill the educational needs of the stylist and the salons on every level. We listen, listen and listen.


REDKEN
David Stanko, hair color consultant

HAPPI:  Tell us about the newest products in Redken’s color area—and what has you most excited about these products?
STANKO:  I’m happy to say Redken listened to our salon professionals, and Color Gels and Color Fusion are bringing back “ash” based color into the collection. These shades are highly requested by colorists to achieve the cool, ashy blondes that are so popular right now. In terms of hair care for color, Redken just launched Blonde Idol, a five product lineup with a sulfate-free shampoo, BBB multi-benefit leave-in spray, gel-based mask treatment for intense, weightless moisture and two dual-chamber custom-tone conditioners in violet for cool blondes and gold for warm blondes, which are very unique. These customizable conditioners allow you to “dial-up” the amount of pigment dispensed with the base conditioner based on how much you need at that point in time to fight brassiness or add soft golden tones.
 
HAPPI: What are some of the key ingredients?
STANKO:  Kera-bright is the protein that helps strengthen the hair, violet leaf extract adds color and fragrance, and lactic acid acts as a pH adjuster to help de-swell blondes and keep their hair as close to pH-balanced as possible.
 
HAPPI:  What has Redken learned and what philosophy does it adhere to that keeps it a leader?
STANKO: Redken is always keeping one eye on trends and the other on new technology.  This combination gives Redken the advantage to deliver relevant products while staying true to our scientific heritage.

HAPPI:  What are some challenges that remain—the Holy Grail, in a way—in hair color?
STANKO:  Easily, the biggest challenge in color is properly assessing the natural level, shade selection (to enhance, neutralize or kill unwanted red tones) and application. Plus, a great consultation is key in delivering the requested results. This requires active listening—no interrupting and repeating the request back to the client to make sure you both understand the direction you are heading.


EUFORA
James Grundy, R&D director

HAPPI: Tell us about Eufora’s new Curl’n line. From a formulator’s perspective, what has you most excited about this new product?
GRUNDY: From a formulator’s perspective this line is exciting because of the diversity and breath of performance that you can achieve with just seven products.  When I sat down with the marketing manager of new product development (Chrystal Ashmore) and Beth Bewley (CEO), we wanted to create a line that would address the many different types and styles of curls in the market (light wave to kinky coils). Curl’n offers the ability to mix and match different products to deliver a customized experience based on individual consumer needs. 

HAPPI: What are some of the key ingredients in the line?
GRUNDY:  The key ingredients in this line really make the products stand out as far as performance (shine, hydration, curl definition/retention). A unique blend of rice and keratin amino acids help strengthen, condition and hydrate the hair. It reduces moisture loss to help combat frizz. Tomato fruit ferment extract contains a unique bio-enzyme complex to help repair damage from heated styling tools, strengthens the hair and improves the structure in order to improve curl retention. Stearoyl Co-desaturase (SCD-1) is an enzyme that improves elasticity and enhances curl retention. Abyssinian oil improves the manageability of the hair, enhancing the shine and strengthening the hair fibers. It provides hydration without a greasy after-feel. Moringa oil, an Antioxidant rich moisturizer with vitamins A, C, E and omega 9 to protect hair from oxidative stresses, control frizz and add shine.

HAPPI: What is Eufora’s hero product—one that you believe is not only a customer and stylist favorite but stands out to you as exemplifying Eufora’s strength in the category?
GRUNDY: It’s hard to pick out one “hero” of the line.  But if I had to pick one it would be the Cleansing Cream, a no-foam shampoo.  This type of product has really become a huge trend in hair care so much so that consumers are looking for  “non-foaming” type cleansers in addition to their current shampooing regimen.  In one study from Croda (July 2013), it said “No users gave up traditional shampoo and conditioners all together. Instead, they used them much less frequently—from once a week to once a month. Adding a cleansing conditioner to the mix allows consumers to use harsh shampoos less frequently. Stylists, when using these on their client’s hair, tended to use them almost exclusively with those clients. For those that use a cleansing conditioner personally, most admitted to wanting to cleanse their hair with a traditional shampoo in some instances because they simply feel like their hair needs it—especially during the summer.”

Eufora also felt this was a good way to bring in new technology to this type of segment by adding plant extracts with high levels of saponins (desert date/soap berry, baby’s breath and shikakai) that help to cleanse the hair without the need of traditional surfactants, leaving the hair hydrated without buildup.

HAPPI: As an R&D director, what are your biggest challenges? Is it cost? Finding great suppliers? Keeping ahead of trends?
GRUNDY:  The constant quest to find cost-effective, effective, revolutionary ingredients while meeting marketing/regulatory concerns and delivering on time is always the challenge.  As an R&D director if I could wave a wand and produce the next “hot” item I would.  The reality is that you never know what the market will crave next and so being a head of the curve is the biggest challenge. 

Brands To Bet On In Pro Hair Care
Which brands are making waves in the pro hair care sector? Here’s Professional Consultants & Resources’ Cyrus Bulsara’s take:

Wella (P&G) had good double-digit 2103 gains in its International/exclusive division mainly due to the dynamic launch of Illumina haircolor that produces excellent result per salon colorists, and the continued growth and success of Koleston and Color Perfect. Plus, they have assembled a really fabulous team of world-class master educators like Stephen Moody, Fabio Sementelli  and Eugene Souleiman.

Paul Mitchell continues its dynamic growth with new, affordable but high-performance hair care, and a great education team that includes Robert Cromeans, Mitchell’s son Angus Mitchell and Stephanie Kocielski.

Another small but dynamic European marketer with a niche position is Keune. They have grown rapidly in the USA in 2013 with top management change that initiated new distribution and a new education team, to support their excellent line of high-quality, safe hair color and hair care.

Niche player Pravana continues to excel with beautiful pastels, vivids/vibrants and a keratin straightener.
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