Keeping a cool head: Say hello to the new breed of holistic scalp care ingredients

By Julia Wray | Published: 9-Nov-2020

Healthy scalp skin is a prerequisite for great-looking hair, but an inflamed, itchy or dandruff-prone scalp is far more than just an aesthetic issue. Recent months have ushered in a wave of ingredients claiming to soothe stressed scalps and ensure microbial balance, as Cosmetics Business explores

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You’re not going to grow a verdant garden on poor soil, nor are you going to boast a healthy, shiny head of hair if your scalp is suffering.

At least, that is the observation of Andrew McDougall, Associate Director, Global Beauty and Personal Care at market analysis firm Mintel.

"The analogy of growing a garden with rich soil can be applied to growing a strong head of hair with a foundation of a healthy scalp,” he says.

“Companies claim that overall hair health is directly related to having a healthy scalp and have made a strong push of late to emphasise scalp-related products.

“Once relegated to solving scalp problems like itchiness or dandruff, scalp-focused products are now expanding to a variety of enhancements, rather than issue-based offers.”

Demand stems from consumer level, with the general public increasingly “aware that a healthy scalp means stronger and shinier hair”, says Siham Bouhrir, Marketing Manager at Barcelona-based cosmetic ingredients supplier Provital.

“Attitudes to hair care are becoming more like skin care; consumers are recognising that the scalp is an extension of facial skin.”

McDougall likewise points to the growing influence of the ‘bald empowerment’ movement, whereby rather than looking to camouflage hair loss, men are accepting going bald and actively caring for their scalps, instead of bemoaning their visibility. Here, brands like Mantl are coming to the fore.

While materials to promote dandruff, hair loss and hair greying have existed for years, in recent months there has been a huge uptick in launches of ingredients to soothe, balance and beautify the scalp – tapping into holistic rather than ‘problem solving’ claims.

And such products are timely; the added pressures that 2020’s Covid-19 lockdowns have piled on consumers’ lives risks showing on their scalps.

“Stress obviously has a deep impact on scalp condition, causing increased sensitivity, redness and irritation that can lead to scalp desquamation, and dull and greasy hair,” confirms Julie Droux, Senior Technical Marketing Specialist at Swiss-headquartered ingredients provider Clariant.

“Accumulation of stressful periods, such as ones related to the Covid-19 crisis, exacerbate this demand. Also, due to the fact that part of the face is now hidden behind a mask, greater focus is placed on the hair.”

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