It may be somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but if our industry enters a new roaring twenties of brand exploration and development, hair care is sure to shine.
Hair care is growing into a new phase of innovation — one with brands diving into the who, what, and how of follicles and what truly keeps our heads nourished and maintained.
The growth rate among brands in the category is driven by a convergence of awareness and exploration. Consumers are excited to research and try out new brands, particularly when it comes to hair care (especially since the pandemic). Our focus on topics like clean beauty and sustainability has been supercharged and we’re ready to double down.
Here are some innovations in hair care that are trending:
The motto for shampoo used to be lather, rinse, repeat. Nowadays, consumers understand the science of scalp care and why daily washes may not be the best for our overall sebum levels.
“Shampoo is an emulsifier that captures and traps excess oil, dirt, and product residue,” Angela Lamb, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai told WebMD.1 Shampoo in effect rinses out both the good and bad of what we have on our heads.
This education and awareness are leading some consumers to rethink their current brands and try out ‘alternative shampoos.’ Many personal care experts agree that only a small number of us need to shampoo every day. Fitness buffs and those in humid climates will benefit from daily sudsing, but the rest of the population need a few skip days (and maybe a spritz of dry shampoo).
It sounds like a Macy’s/Gimbels gambit, but by getting consumers to use their product less, hair care brands can push more masstige products and increase sales.
Brands are formulating innovations in hair care and rethinking the ingredients that do or do not belong. Taboo additives — like sulfates and silicones, alcohols and abrasives, synthetics and sodiums — are all being reconsidered in the quest to develop healthier hair.
This reformulation sometimes requires a reboot of our perceptions of what a product does or how it behaves. Sulfates, for example, are widely used in shampoos and are often responsible for the product’s foaming nature. As a detergent, they’re also responsible for stripping essential oils when we shampoo. Replacing sulfates oftentimes requires an adjustment to our expectations of a shampoo (and that yes, it is still cleaning your hair).
Consumers want to explore products sans sulfates and silicons. They want tea tree oil for retaining moisture, rambutan seed for deodorization, and apple extract to regulate the sebum levels. Beard oils with ginger root can bring anti-aging benefits. Japanese camellia in serums help smooth hair cuticles. The options for moving onto new ingredients have never been greater.
With the clean beauty movement being redefined from the pandemic, it’s now one of the most crucial table stakes in the game.
In the battle for market share in men’s grooming, hair care is entering a new phase of growth. Male grooming overall has seen a 5.2% CAGR and is expected to reach $81.2 billion by 20242 (with hair care being a key component to that growth).
A primary driver of men’s care masstige is the education on the benefits of good hair hygiene and the innovation of brands catering to hair loss, beard care, and better shampoo. Minoxidil is no longer the only treatment for thinning hair and 2-in-1 shampoos are no longer a shower caddy litmus test.
Brands are emerging with an endless line of grooming products that cater to today’s man. These include shampoos with carefully curated scents, beard oils that include ingredients to stimulate growth, and an array of pomades, waxes, and fibers that go far beyond dollar-bin hair gel. Many brands are also developing formulations that address genetic backgrounds, from those with thin to textured hair.
It should be noted that the comeback of barbershop culture and the rise of influencers has helped bring the male demographic on board as well. Both barbers and social gurus are effective ambassadors in educating a new class of guys on hairstyle trends, fashion choices, product categories, and how all of them come together to make a well-groomed man.
It’s no secret to anyone that hair coloring has been a major part of the market for decades, but today’s coloring products aren’t what they used to be. With advancements in formulation, packaging, and logistics, hair coloring is reaching a golden age.
Shifts in consumer behavior during the pandemic have led to massive growth in hair coloring products. At the start of the pandemic — when lockdowns were at their peak — sales for hair coloring grew 172 percent.3 This spike was largely caused by a huge demand for at-home products as many salons were shuttered or closed entirely.
However easy it might be, it’s unfair to credit the pandemic for the entirety of hair coloring’s recent numbers. In actuality, advancements made before 2020 were what allowed the at-home trend to be as successful as it was. Brands have spent the last several years improving online commerce and direct-to-consumer shipping, they’ve developed easier and less messy ways to color, and AI has allowed consumers to choose colors that have essentially been created just for them.
L’Oreal’s brand Color & Co. lets users take an online color quiz or speak directly with a coloring consultant to choose from an infinite selection of shades. Simpler Hair Color has developed an innovative brush application that allows for multiple touch-up applications from a single tube. Color Wow has developed a powder-based root touchup product applied by brush that will last through rain and rinses until your next shampoo.
Hair care is an industry to watch because we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. Today the number of SKUs that cater to washing, conditioning, growth, styling, and scalp health is increasing every day, launching an entire generation of products to tickle a trichologist’s fancy. In overall personal care news, that’s pretty exciting.