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WGSN: Forecast 2022: The Future of Hair
From water-reducing innovations to personalised at-home services and brain-boosting scents, WGSN moves your brand ahead of the hair care trends of 2022
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Simon Ellis
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The global hair care market is expected to reach US $116.33bn by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 3.35% between now and then, according to Mordor Intelligence, and the US is expected to be the largest market during this period. China is expected to remain the largest hair care market in APAC during this time, and the personal care industry is expected to boost the Latin America market. 

For Western Europe, predictions point to an increase in demand for organic hair care, which falls in line with a growing focus globally on natural ingredients, as well as waterless formats that are more sustainable. Already, brands are scaling up their efforts to reduce their environmental impact. L’Oréal is working with The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy to transition all products to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025. German beauty brand Henkel initiated its Be Smarter, Save Water campaign to raise consumer awareness about the responsible use of water, offering tools to calculate daily water footprint and also showcase the benefits of shorter shower times.

Greater awareness around diversity and inclusion is also impacting the industry, and we expect this to continue. For brands, this represents an opportunity to create products tailored for specific ages and ethnicities, aided by the use of artificial intelligence and augmented reality, which can pinpoint data to enable brands to target their offer with more certainty.

Water footprint: towards a zero-waste mentality

When it comes to sustainability (or lack of) in beauty, hair care is a prime offender. Research by the University of Southampton in the UK suggests that the hair-washing process produces the largest carbon footprint in comparison with other daily rituals, such as skincare and make-up.

At a time when access to water is such a strategic issue, innovation around reducing water usage in beauty products can offer new opportunities for product development. L’Oréal has teamed up with technology start-up Gjosa to create a salon shampoo and low-flow shower head, which reduces the water and energy required for a salon-quality shampoo service by nearly 70%. The shower head breaks up the flow of water by accelerating the speed of the droplets, while the easier-to-rinse shampoo is applied directly through the shower head, rather than  to the scalp.

The Cape Town water crisis in early 2018 inspired Procter & Gamble to formulate Waterl<ss, a hair care range without the need for any water, sold exclusively in South Africa. As the popularity and capabilities of the 'between-washes hair care' segment increases, products will not only keep hair cleaner for longer, but will also be used to form the basis for advanced 'dry styling' routines. We are seeing brands focus more on multifunctional style and care products that can simplify lengthy beauty regimens, and we expect this will become more mainstream by 2022.

What’s next? To convince consumers to invest in water-saving products, they have to be easy and attractive to buy and use. We predict seeing dissolvable formats, such as water-soluble pods/sachets that have long been used in the laundry detergent category. Sachets can be composed of a functionalised biodegradable polymer that ruptures on contact with water and dissolves without environmental impact. They require less water in their production because less water is used in the liquid formula to prevent the pod from dissolving. According to Christian Herrmanns, executive vice president at MonoSol, which makes water-soluble films that are currently used in the household-cleaning market, if the consumer uses too much water with the pods, the final product (lather) is too diluted, therefore minimising water usage. His brand is working with some companies (he declined to name them because nothing is finalised yet) that provide sample-size shampoo, conditioner, and body-wash bottles to hotels.

Mustafah Abdulaziz

How wet is your hair?

As the value of flowing water increases and becomes recognised as a wellness resource, rinsing hair will become a ritual in its own right. Rinse/touch-release technologies with encapsulated fragrance, which are activated during product application, could be used to provide longer lasting scent. Ben Webb, Givaudan’s SVP regional head of fragrances for APAC, commented that: “The key benefits of fragrance encapsulation in hair care products include an increased retention of fragrance in hair, with a burst of fragrance released by brushing or touching hair”. For brands, this represent an opportunity for new rinsing formats. Offering calming and mind-clarifying notes could become an added benefit of hair care products. Consumers could be encouraged to breathe in, hold and exhale the fragrance dispersed in the air to boost mental wellbeing, as if simulating a meditation or yoga practice.

We are also seeing more devices adopting new air-propelling mechanisation as well as tools that drain excess water and eliminate the need for towels, making both homes and salons eco-friendlier. Revair has patented a reverse-air technology that envelops strands while pulling water away, increasing drying efficiency.

What’s next? Splash formulas with high-viscosity molecules could aid the rinsing ritual, boosting the shampoo’s internal flow so that less water is needed to rinse. The highly concentrated formula won’t need to be rinsed thoroughly, but only lightly splashed and patted on to the hair.


The age of wellness: mindful hair

The craze for cannabidiol-based (CBD) cosmetics has shown a clear sign of how ‘brain-boosting’ trends and claims are gaining popularity in the beauty sector. According to Mintel, wellbeing-focused products are especially important in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for 33% of the global market for beauty products aimed at de-stressing and relaxation. The next evolution of wellness products in this region is shifting from holistic to more scientific, with focus on neurotransmitters and compounds such as nootropics, which increase motivation and mental energy.

Henkel is rolling out a premium vegan brand for professional hair salons called Authentic Beauty Concept, aiming to create a mindful salon experience for clients. The products emphasise the importance of the salon ritual, where handcrafted essences are added to the chosen hair mask and the client’s pulse points. After a relaxing head massage, a cooling mask is placed over the client’s eyes, with the option of providing earphones so they can listen to a calming playlist.

While the scope of this launch is limited because it is focused on professional treatments, it does suggest a broader openness among consumers to incorporate elements of wellness rituals into their hair care regimen. There is an opportunity for retail brands to build upon this in the development and marketing of more mainstream products, with the integration of aromatherapy and aromachology olfactory triggers to calm the nervous system.

Also look out for hair care that takes its cues from food, edible ingredients, and the rise of DIY beauty blogs. Hair Teas by Forever Wild Organics can be drunk to calm nerves and relieve stress, and are also formulated to combat causes of hair dryness or a lack of hair growth. In addition, they can be poured over the head to smooth the cuticles of the hair and coat its shaft as a reconstructive hair treatment. Consumers are showing interest in efficacy-backed beauty edibles and tandem products that work both internally and topically.

What’s next? In this shifting market, hair care products with added lifestyle benefits will see the category merge with mindful fragrances and health supplements, and forward-thinking brands should start investigating this now. A stamp-on solid balm or a brush-on gel formulated with scented transdermal magnesium epsom salt (which is booming in the body care category) could be applied to pulse points to boost mood prior to the hair care regimen.


Healthy scalp, healthy hair

According to Mintel, specialised scalp-care innovations and extra steps (such as serums, exfoliators, and rinse-off/leave-in products) in the scalp-care routine are emerging in an effort to add value and premium appeal to the segment. The driving force behind this market trend is the increasing demand for scalp care in APAC countries. According to a Mintel report, 47% of consumers in China believe having a healthy scalp is a major contributor to healthy hair.

However, there is a growing concern around air/environmental quality, and people are making links between pollution and the appearance of their hair. In China, 17% of consumers with hair are concerned about damage from the environment (source: Mintel). As reported in the 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, China emits more carbon dioxide than the US and EU combined. Pollution particles (such as PM 2.5) adhere on the hair surface, causing friction with the cuticle and in return causing damage. The integration of anti-pollution properties in hair care and styling products in these countries is paramount, and 31% of hair care launches in APAC make on-pack reference to the word “scalp”, higher than the 10%-23% in other regions. 

Bio-functionals such as Ashland’s Procataline G2 will be particularly useful for anti-pollution scalp products as they have been shown to chelate major heavy metals and reduce tryptophan degradation in the keratin of the hair fibre, making the hair less prone to damage caused by pollution, UV and bacteria.

Hair brands could be looking at cosmeceuticals for inspiration on scalp care. While micro-needling has been on the beauty radar for some time, needle-free patches have only recently caught the attention of skincare aficionados around the world. Vice Reversa Transdermal Plumping Patches and Peace Out's Microneedling Dark Spot Brightening Dots are tapping into this trend. These formats could move into scalp care products, with micro-needling used to deliver ingredients directly to the scalp, effectively giving nutrients to every inch of the hair to optimise hair growth and fight hair loss.

What’s next? In skincare, there has been a boom of products and tools to be placed in the refrigerator before use, to decongest lymph nodes and rid toxins (think jade rollers). We could see scalp scrubs follow this trend with cryotherapy-inspired granita-like exfoliators, which are stored in the freezer and have a semi-frozen crushed-ice texture to remove build-up and purify the scalp and hair. According to Mintel, at-home scalp exfoliators are poised to grow in popularity.

Brands are also looking at warming tools to maximise at-home treatments while adding a sensorial experience. The Stellar Hot Head microwavable deep conditioning heat cap enables the hair cuticle to open for an extended period, allowing the treatment to penetrate the hair shaft. It may be niche for now, but this suggests an increased desire for at-home pampering rituals, and we expect that this will hit the mainstream in 2022. Also take inspiration from Gillette, which tapped into this trend by launching the first-of-its-kind heated razor to recreate the sensation of a hot towel shave at an affordable price at home.


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