According to Cyrus Bulsara, president of Professional Consultants and Resources, Plano, TX, the state of the salon industry is weak and in very low growth mode, due to multiple factors that include salon retail moving to Ulta, Amazon and other online outlets, more women opting for cheaper cuts at family-economy chains and, finally, high costs and lower salon visit frequencies.
“Plus, a growing number of women are embracing their natural gray, silver or white,” Bulsara added.
As a result, hair coloring services grew just 2.6% last year, driven by Boomers needing gray coverage and young adults’ demands for fashionable looks like blonding, highlights, baby-lights, balayage, sombrés and shadow roots. However, according to Bulsara, demand slowed for vibrants, vivids and pastels during the past year.
According to Information Resources, Inc., Chicago, sales of hair color in food, drug and mass merchandisers slipped less than 1% to $1.6 billion during the past year (see chart). Sales of women’s hair color dropped about 1.4% to $1.4 billion, but sales of men’s hair color rose nearly 3.2% to more than $205 million, helped again by the success of Combe’s Just for Men Control GX. Combe now controls nearly 95% of men’s hair color sales. Salon sales of men’s hair color grew strongly, too, according to Professional Consultants and Resources.
Men aren’t the only ones interested in keeping the grey at bay. New York City hairstylist Kali Ferrara of the Roy Teeluck Salon said aging Boomers and Gen Xers are stepping up their root maintenance routines.
“Clients who would come twice a year to once a quarter are now coming in monthly to cover their gray,” she told Happi. “While a more natural low maintenance look has been the norm for some time that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t in the salon having their maintenance done.”
At the same time, the trends of the undone look still require maintenance up to three times a year, so while Ferrara may not see all of her clients on a monthly basis, she is able to freshen them up almost seasonally.
And what shades are in demand? Everything from an icy all-over platinum blonde or a “rooty” blonde, to a pop of a vivid color, to a natural redhead or a rich chocolate brown can be seen leaving Ferrara’s chair.
The shade choice is often age dependent. Ferrara’s younger clientele (21-35) often try to have more fun with their hair color and try new things throughout the year; i.e., light for spring and summer and darker for fall. While more mature clientele (40-60+) often stay the same throughout the year.
“Consistent gray coverage and making it look like they don’t color their hair is their number one goal, this makes their choices less volatile,” she explained.
Older women may prefer low volatility, but balayage, the method of painting highlights into hair, remains popular, even as interest in ombré begins to fade, according to Ferrara.
“Now you will often see a mix of baby lights and balayage to create a stronger look around the face with foils, but color will be kept soft through the ends with balayage,” she explained.
Earlier this spring in Europe, Kao Corporation launched @Pure Pigments under its Goldwell professional line. The line will be available in North America in the fall. @Pure Pigments uses HD3 Dye Technology, which is based on a new nonreactive hair dye developed through joint research with Fujifilm Corporation and Dresden University of Technology in Germany. According to Kao, the technology elevates hair color with vibrancy and brilliance and makes it possible to achieve a wide range of colors and hues with a multi-dimensional color result, in which the hair color changes vividly in response to hair movement and light.
The HD3 Dye Technology used in @Pure Pigments was developed through the fusion of Kao’s hair control technology (technology that gives precise control of the dye’s penetration depth into the hair shaft) and Fujifilm’s molecular design and synthesis technology for dyes. The features of the dye are:
- Three-dimensional, high-definition color result with depth;
- Color design for total freedom in expression of color; and
- A successful combination of non-reactivity and high fade resistance.
There are plenty of new color products out there, but Ferrara uses primarily Redken and some L’Oréal formulas.
“I was trained on Redken and still find it to be one of the better all-around hair color lines,” she explained. “They have a great range of gray covering colors, vibrant reds, rich browns and the Shades EQ glosses are the best in the business.”
According to Ferrara, Olaplex bond builder has changed the hair coloring game.
“Thanks to Olaplex, I can promise my clients minimal damage when trying to push their hair to the next level,” she explained.
To maintain strong, healthy hair she relies on Vitafuson Gorgeous Hair Skin and Nails, calling it a great multivitamin with biotin. In terms of styling products and shampoos, Oribe is her go-to brand.
“The line has something for everyone, smells great, has beautiful packaging, and delivers what it promises,” she said.
Ferrera, it seems, has no complaints with her go-to products in the salon, but when it comes to off-the-shelf mass market formulas, she sees plenty of room for improvement.
“I really wish there were more guidelines when it came to selling directly to consumer,” she said. “I have seen so many nightmares sit in my chair from box colors, and I think the major companies should figure out a better way to sell these products to people. There needs to be a way to help protect the client from false hopes on a box and their selves.”
In contrast, she said online color companies such as Madison Reed and eSalon are taking this to a better level by helping women find the correct formula to cover their gray.
E-commerce companies obviously agree.
“There is little product innovation from ingredient to delivery (in the hair color space),” explained Madison Reed CEO Amy Errett. “We are bringing innovation to ingredients, finished products and delivery.”
Millennials, she said, are less interested in multinationals and more interested in boutique products that promise excellent service. Couple that with Madison Reed’s mobile app and the company has a tremendous advantage over its competitors, according to Errett.
Madison Reed asks customers 13 questions to find the right color for them; and its algorithm, which boasts more than four billion combinations, continues to get more sophisticated.
“Most of our traffic comes from mobile,” said Errett. “We are always changing our site, constantly improving and finding ways to make the storefront more effective.”
Executives at traditional at-home color companies insist they’re creating more effective storefronts and products, too.
Rosi Ajjam, senior vice president, retail hair, Coty, which owns top-selling Clairol home color, said the company wants to evolve this functional grooming process into a true beauty experience that women can do at home without fear of damage and with fantastic color results.
“By bringing disruptive technology that removes barriers to coloring at home, Clairol is empowering women to fearlessly color their hair at home,” she insisted.
The keystone to that empowerment is a new Nice’n Easy formula that features a less damaging formula, rich color results, less mess due to a new crème format and a floral scent (no more ammonia smell).
“As a leader in the at-home hair color industry, Clairol felt a sense of responsibility to create an innovative formula that doesn’t let the consumer compromise the health of their hair for rich color,” said Anna Vorrias, VP-global and US marketing, Clairol at Coty. “Now, thanks to the new Nice’n Easy, the formula exceeds consumers’ needs as it actually leaves the hair healthier and more conditioned, in addition to beautiful color results, for an elevated user experience.”
Clairol Nice’n Easy’s new formula simultaneously helps reduce the risk of developing an allergy while blocking damage with the ME+ molecule and EDDS technology. The company calls ME+ a revolutionary molecule that significantly reduces the risk of allergy for those without preexisting allergies to hair dye. These allergies are caused by either PPD or PTD, which are typically present in at-home hair color products. While they provide high quality color, they are the main cause of allergic reactions in hair dye users. Thanks to ME+, new Nice’n Easy is the first at-home hair color of its kind to provide the same high quality color benefits in an allergy gentle formula.
Backing up the Nice’n Easy relaunch is the debut of the Color of Confidence campaign, the next step in the brand’s multi-pronged effort to modernize the brand, reinforce the “Color Fearlessly” tagline and attract a more inclusive, diverse range of customers.
“Clairol has a long history of supporting women’s confidence, so it was only natural for the brand to revolutionize its timeless messaging by reintroducing the notion of coloring with confidence,” explained Vorrias.
In the campaign, Clairol partnered with 100 women from all backgrounds, ages and ethnicities to show not only the beautiful results of the new formulation, but illustrate how something as simple as hair color can boost women’s confidence in all aspects of their lives.
Keep Color Stronger Longer
Once a guy or gal puts the color on, how do they keep it on?
Moroccanoil enters the color space this month with Color Complete. The company calls it a revolutionary, 360° approach to color care, addressing the full scope of color-degradation, color-change and color-fade. The formulas contain ArganID and Colorlink, two proprietary technologies. The former is a microencapsulated argan oil delivery system that targets and repairs damaged, color-treated hair. The latter is said to help rebuild and cross-link the damaged keratin structure to help trap color within, while forming a protective shield that prevents color washout.
Redken takes a different approach to maintaining color with an array of new products. According to the L’Oréal brand, 40% of salon color clients go blonde, but they struggle with brassiness that comes with blonding and lightening services.
New Redken Color Extend Blondage Shampoo and Conditioner contains pure violet pigments to minimize brassy and yellow undertones, along with a triple action protein complex of amino, citric and maleic acids, and wheat protein to strengthen hair.
In addition, Redken’s Color Extend Vinegar Rinse contains citric acid to strengthen hair and apple cider vinegar to remove residue. The formula promises to instantly brighten and refresh hair. It may be used as an add-on treatment, or as a shampoo or conditioner substitute.
Clearly, there’s plenty of technology to improve the hair color process; now it’s up to marketers to convince women to start coloring their hair again.