Educated consumer steers innovation in hair care segment


Hair care is a mature market, where product manufacturers really need to stretch themselves in terms of new product formats and functionality to remain competitive

Hair care is a mature market, where product manufacturers really need to stretch themselves in terms of new product formats and functionality to remain competitive.

According to Euromonitor, the forecast by value for global hair care categories for 2014 is 30% for shampoos, 53% for conditioners and treatments, 8% for dyeing, 5% for styling and 3% for perms and relaxers.

Cleaning and then conditioning the hair are the traditional demands from hair care consumers. More recently the trend has been to incorporate additional materials that can provide a broader range of benefits including heat protection, environmental protection, scalp treatment and hair loss prevention to name but a few.

This shift has seen a range of new ingredients introduced into the market by manufacturers. Complexity in hair care is often attributed to the diversity of the hair substrate, environmental impacts, consumer habits and product attributes. Producing a hair care base that is versatile enough to incorporate this broad range of speciality ingredients is becoming more difficult. A formulator needs to simultaneously tackle a number of challenges, such as labelling claims, viscosity and other issues of compatibility of ingredients, cost- while differentiating a product as addressing key consumer concerns. The demand for sulphate-free and mild surfactant cleansers remains strong, while we see the share of emollients within conditioning ingredients increasing.

Anti-ageing is a fast-growing property in hair care. Manufacturers respond to demands for anti-ageing hair products targeting concerns such as thinning, colouring, breakage and drying. The market sees boost in conditioning agents, sunscreen and moisturisers, as launches of shampoos and conditioners incorporating serums and treatments often found in skin care are on the rise. Anti-ageing formulations are being added to products ranging from shampoos and conditioners to volumisers and shiners to meet this growing demand. Caring for the scalp has become an essential part of shampoo technology. Tego Cosmo C100 (Creatine) is an active material from Evonik Industries AG that is widely used in the hair care industry due to its ability to reduce the damage to hair caused by regular combing and styling.

For hair styling consistency and strong hold are some of the key attributes consumers are looking for when choosing a product. High humidity resistance is typically sought by female consumers to preserve their styles, while teenage customers seek extreme hold and sweat and party-proof formulas to suit their lifestyles. To achieve softness, flow, shine, or style retention formulators are looking for versatile ingredients with good compatibility and efficiency. Fixate Design Polymer from Lubrizol generates the hardness and hold demanded by young consumers without having the drawbacks of excessive flaking, tackiness and poor resistance to humidity that is common with more traditional resins. Fixate Design Polymer can be used in conjunction with Carbopol rheology modifiers to create a variety of applications from clear gel and pump spray to hair glaze, serum, paste, puttee or pudding.

Hair loss and improvement in hair thickness have particularly come to the fore. Traditionally very topical with men and baldness this is an area that has started to move across to older women also. Innovative active ingredients such as Sphingony (Sphinganine) from Evonik as well as natural oils are particular drivers in this area. Sphingony is a naturally occurring, skin-identical sphingolipid that addresses hair loss by balancing the hair life cycle, strengthening the hair follicle and improving scalp health.

Oils are renowned for aiding hair growth, prolonging freshness and providing additional shine. Suppliers are venturing further afield to bring novel oils to markets, as focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing remains strong. Global nature of oils sourcing also aids innovation, as consumers learn of new beauty routines to find the magic product in pursuit of hair youth and vitality. Botanical and herbal ingredients are gaining further popularity, as they are incorporated into formulations to provide benefits more tangible than just an interesting marketing story. Ubuntu Mongongo oil (Schinziophyton Rautanenii kernel oil) from Aldivia for example has the ability to reduce the stress on the hair by forming a film around its fibres protecting against damage from exposure to heat and UV. Whilst the modified Viatenza range from Aldivia sees polyglyceryl bonded to natural oils to achieve hydrophilic properties commonly not seen with oils including water solubility, foaming and viscosity building.

The cosmetics industry is also seeing launches of revolutionary sunscreen ingredients that offer high efficacy protection across a wide spectrum.

Natural trend continues

Added functionality is however not the only focus for hair care consumers. In general they are also becoming more educated about what ingredients they use and express greater interest in ingredient labelling. This has consequently seen a significant shift in the market.

Many ingredients that have traditionally been used in hair care have fallen out of favour, such as sodium laureth sulphate (SLES), sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), glycols, parabens, MIT/CIT, formaldehyde donors and phenoxyethanol, to name but a few.

Finding effective and cost efficient preservatives can be challenging. Saliguard COS (Phenoxyethanol, Caprylylglycol, Chlorophenesin), and Saliguard EU/EZ (Ethylhexylglycerin & Undecylinic Acid/Ethylhexylglycerine & 1,3- Propanediol) are versatile options that can be used for a wide range of applications.

As consumer demand for natural products increases, formulators are challenged find new ingredients and formulations that are natural while providing the same results consumers expect from synthetic products. Manufacturers are introducing natural ingredients to keep up with current trends and regulations, as well as to address growing customer demand for green produce. Plant-inspired and premium botanical ingredients are set to attract more consumers. Most new ingredients coming to the market are at least naturally derived, if not certificated where possible by a known regulatory body such as COSMOS or EcoCert.

Public interest in the issue of sustainable palm oil has also grown significantly over the years, and reputable suppliers show their commitment to sustainability by obtaining RSPO supply chain certification system for "Purchasing, Storage, Distribution and Processing of Certified Palm Oil and Palm Oil derived Oleochemicals”.

Companies increasingly position their products as “green” in order to win customers and emulate the success of green skin care ranges. However product performance should not be compromised, while the consumer expects to pay far less for a green hair care product than for that of a skin care range.

The number of naturally derived ingredients for hair care are very restrictive compared to the wide range of different materials seen in skin care but it is a strong growth area. The Sensomer CT range (Cassia Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride) from Lubrizol for example are naturally derived Guar polymers that offer multifunctional properties including improved deposition, distinctive sensory and enhanced conditioning performance.
In April 2015 Evonik Industries AG launched Varisoft EQ100 (Quaternium-98) which is one of the few naturally derived ester quats currently available.
Varisoft EQ100 offers high performance conditioning, giving superior results compared to market bench marks like behentrimonium chloride.

In response to the green trend there is a current search for alternatives to silicones however popularity of silicones, due to their cost effectiveness and efficacy is expected to continue. Approximately 60% of new hair care products will contain at least one silicone material, and often more in the case of conditioners. Novel silicones that offer greater benefits, such as hair fibre protection, are also numerous. Evonik Industries has a wide range of modified silicones that are often able to offer wider benefits and greater versatility than traditional conditioning agents.

The shade of novelty

The popularity of the cleansing conditioners continues to rise, with people looking for a twist on the traditional 2in1 shampoo and conditioner. These are being produced in various formats often more conditioner like in appearance than shampoo, allowing the use of more actives and natural oils to be incorporated. Surfactants like Tego Sulfosuccinate DO75 (Diethylhexyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate) from Evonik are ideal for this type of formulation offering stability to formulations containing large concentrations of oil whilst still lathering.

The market for hair colouring is expected to continue to grow year on year, as coloured hair has become a common statement of individuality, youth and fashion. Shining, lustrous hair colour needs protection from repeated washing and UV exposure, and consumers are looking for products to help keep colour for longer, enhance colour brilliance, and revive colour and shine. Chromapol 5 polymer of Lubrizol can be used to design innovative hair colour systems: clear gels or glossy creams with pleasant sensory and colour vibrancy. This ingredient improves sustainability of  profile due to cold process, savings in energy, batch time and amount of fatty phase; colouring formulations can be free from fatty alcohols maximising formulation flexibility while maintaining colour efficiency. Chromapol 5  is also an effective emulsion stabiliser for oils, silicones and esters, suited for permanent or semi-permanent colouring, producing smooth flow and non-drip shear-thinning rheology.

Colour protection has been a hot topic in recent years, particularly for red shades containing the colourants, pyrazoles or para aminophenols which are well known to fade very quickly in the days after initial application. Techniques such as "colour lock" shampoos and more mild shampoos to attempt to prevent fading by washing are well known, as are UV blocking quaterniums to prevent fading by UVA. Abil UV Quat 50 (Polysilicone-19) from Evonik is an example of a modern, multifunctional hair care ingredient. Abil UV Quat 50 combines in one molecule the conditioning and aesthetic benefits of a silicone polymer, connected with a UV absorber to protect the hair from the sun.

Encapsulated oils can be added to sulphate-free shampoo to give long-lasting protection to coloured or damaged hair.

Overall, consumers continue to want solutions “customized” to their hair, as well as products that give hair a healthy sensory feel and provide a feeling of increased well-being for the user.


Brockway, B., Hili, P. (2014) Formulating Green Personal Care Products: Hair Care, in Brockway, Hili, 2014, Sustainable Cosmetic Product Development
Dearden-Watts, J., Hodgkinson, J. (2015) Hair Care Devolution: Naturally Back to Basics, Personal Care Asia, May 2015
Dearden-Watts, J., Malinowski, M. (2015) Pielegnacia wlosow; naturalnie prosta, Chemia I Biznes, 2/2015
Euromonitor International, Ingredient Trends in Hair Care, Nov 2014

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McDonagh, N., Baeva, A., Cheraulo, E. (2012) Hair care products: brief review of trends, Ingredients and Packaging, No 10 (149), pp. 14-15
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