Global Hair Care: Are the Bad Hair Days Over?


*Editor’s note: The information in this report first appeared in Global Cosmetic Industry June 2017.

Pioneered on the one hand by the ethically minded, and on the other by a snubbing of conventional grooming expectations, an anti-grooming movement has swept across the West as of late, enveloping nations that strategically prop up the hair care market. The global sprawl of deep-seated hair care usage, however, is giving rise to favorable regional diversity and a throng of growth pockets.

So with recovery somewhat in the offing, how can a healthy growth trajectory be sustained?

Hair and Skin Akin

Consumers exhibit similar attitudes toward skin care as they do hair when it comes to trade-offs between a lower price and specific product features. This makes an undeniable case for the replication of skin care trends in hair.

For example, hair masks are in a strong position to benefit from the growth momentum of facial masks. More than 50% of respondents expressed a preference for proven efficacy over a lower price, spelling further good news for mask formats, which often command a higher price tag.

Gently Does It

Parallels with skin care cannot be drawn without reference to the natural narrative, which is aiding sector growth as new healthier priorities lead consumers to overhaul their bathroom cabinet. Globally, premium hair care’s plight was abetted by the desire for milder and sustainable formulations, which come at a price, as the segment continued to trend ahead of mass in 2016 with 5.3% and 3.5% growth values, respectively. Long-established claims such as free-from continue to be covetable in markets including Asia-Pacific, as is evident in the 104% growth value in 2016 of the domestic brand Seeyoung, winning the domestic popularity race for its premium range of silicone-free hair care.

An Eastern influence is tangible in developed regions, too, and breathing new life into the core shampoo market. In both Western Europe and North America, in 2016, shampoo built on the disappointment of the previous year, recording respective 1.5% and 3.7% growth rates. A barrage of novel claims such as probiotic and gluten-free have had a hand in this, making their way from food labels to skin care jars and eventually to hair care bottles.

In relation, U.S.-based brand Mother Dirt markets a shampoo that is certified for compatibility with the skin’s natural microbiome, along with Illumai, which works on the premise of what “Mother Nature” provided: a healthy biome.

Innovations rooted in Ayuverdic medicine are poised to gain traction as well, originating from unlikely beauty trend-setter India. While the majority of brands on the market presently have a skin and body focus, such as Arya Essentials and Jiva Apoha, the opportunities for hair care remain abundant.

Hair Care Comes of Age

The difference between consumer concerns over hair vs. skin lies in their age. While skin care becomes a particular concern in a person’s 30s, hair care is more of a younger generation’s arena. Even hair loss treatments show a higher rate of use in consumers under the age of 30 than in any other age group, according to Euromonitor International’s Beauty Survey.

Meanwhile, in the wider hair care sphere, anti-aging ranges are multiplying, utilizing all too familiar ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, amino acids and retinol. Examples include Living Proof’s Timeless Pre-Shampoo Treatment and the Alterna Caviar Anti-Ageing Bodybuilding Conditioner.

This is a potentially risky punt on age segmentation, however, considering a fresh dialogue that shuns negative language toward aging is getting louder and in favor of neutral and targeted labels such as hydrating—a seemingly reverse positioning for hair as for skin.

Working the Natural Wave

A mindful generation need not spell trouble for hair care, though. Instead, this newly found consciousness should be viewed as an opportunity to develop new sustainable and “harmless” alternatives, to uphold the frequency and length of current regimes.

By the same token, concerns for an aging population, or for the likes of water scarcity, could in fact further lengthen routines by convincing consumers to add steps such as anti-aging treatments or styling agents, to achieve a constant “just-washed” finish.

In the wider hair care sphere, anti-aging hair ranges are multiplying and using all too familiar ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and retinol.

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