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Ageless Tresses—Building the Complete Anti-aging Hair Care Line

Kathleen Maurer
  • Graying is only one sign of aging hair; other signs include change in texture, diminished density, surface dullness, increased dryness and breakage/fragility.
  • Products in an anti-aging hair care line need to make up for the loss in natural sebum without weighing it down or leaving it greasy, need to be gentle and strengthen hair from within, and protect hair from environmental damage.
  • Replacing the outdated hair spray, an effective shine spray will pack a powerful punch—smoothing, holding and protecting hair to be the go-to styling product.

With the first wave of baby boomers turning 65, maintaining an active lifestyle is high on their priority list—as is maintaining a more youthful appearance. A recent report from Global Industry Analysts projects the anti-aging products market to reach $291 billion worldwide by 2015. Moreover, this market may be more recession-proof than others, as this population continues to seek the fountain of youth and shows no sign of abatement. There’s no better time than now to capitalize on this trend and provide them with hair care solutions specific to their needs.

The Life Cycle of Hair

According to the results of a recent poll by The Associated Press and, almost one-third of baby boomers report they regularly color their hair (and more than half of female respondents say they do so). A full 73% of those who color their hair admit they do so to cover up the gray. However, gray or white color is only one sign of aging hair; other signs include a change in texture, diminished density, surface dullness, increased dryness and breakage/fragility. Some of these changes are due to the environment—years of blow-drying, straightening, ironing and brushing taking their toll—while other effects are simply due to the physiological changes of getting older. These transformations occur gradually over time:

  • 20s: Hair is at the peak of thickness and strength, with ample sebum and shine.
  • 30s: The external damage incurred during one’s 20s becomes visible, and a slight decline in sebum can cause hair to lose its natural luster.
  • 40s: The diameter of the hair shaft begins to shrink, leading hair to become thinner and more fragile; a decline in melanin levels can lead to gray hair.
  • 50s: Most women are 50% gray by the age of 50 due to a steep decline in melanin; follicles continue to shrink and leave hair thinner and even more fine.
  • 60s: Nearly 40% of women will experience some degree of hair loss by age 60, mostly around the crown; hair often appears thin and lackluster.

Clearly, a hair care line designed for the baby boomer population has different requirements than a line geared toward Millennials/Generation Y. Products in an anti-aging hair care line need to leave hair shiny to make up for the loss in natural sebum—but without weighing it down or leaving it greasy. They’ll need to be gentle on hair and strengthen it from the inside out.

And, they’ll need to protect hair from past environmental damage and the hair coloring process that’s likely to occur in the future (if it hasn’t started yet). It’s a tall order, but an effective anti-aging regimen can be broken down into four key steps.

Cleansing: Age-defying Shampoo and Conditioner

Because hair becomes thinner, more brittle and less glossy with age, products that create volume and provide shine are essential. The shampoo and conditioner must be gentle and provide excellent conditioning benefits, moisturize the hair as it cleans, and leave the hair feeling soft, smooth and free from buildup. Look for a highly charged cationic polymer—such as Nalco Company’s Merquat 280 and DSM’s TILAMAR Quat 2240—that exhibits excellent removability without leaving any product behind and contributes to a gloss and silky feel, which gives hair the healthy glow it needs to look youthful again.

Hair also needs ingredients that can help restore it to its former strength. DSM’s BeauPlex VH, for example, is a hair care compound made up of vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamins B3, B5 and B6. Antioxidant properties can help protect hair from environmental damage and heal hair that has already undergone stress.

Protecting: Rewind Time Hair Mask

Hair masks are designed to treat extra-dry, over processed, color-treated hair—a fate that many baby boomers are finding themselves facing. These masks, also known as deep conditioners, provide intense, targeted moisture that restores hair’s natural shine and strengthen it against future breakage. By nourishing hair regularly—usually on a weekly basis—texture, body and manageability can improve greatly.

Because healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp, hair masks not only treat and condition hair—they start with the scalp as well. There are available ingredients with compositions very similar to the natural carbohydrate fraction found in the stratum corneum of human skin; as a result, they are highly substantive to the skin and bind moisture like a water magnet. This soothes and hydrates an irritated scalp.

A great foundation to a mask includes a protein that can provide a protective film for the scalp and hair. DSM’s Setakol, a hydrolysate of the silk protein sericin, is one example. It has a unique affinity to proteins, causing it to bind to the keratin of hair. This provides nourishment and hydration while protecting hair against external influences by forming a protective, conditioning film.

An effective hair mask will also need to replenish the outer layer of hair to improve shine and impart a silky feel. Another type of highly charged cationic polymer— Nalco Company’s Merquat 100, Clariant International’s Genamin PDAC and DSM’s TILAMAR Quat 640, as examples—can deliver detangling properties, which is always key with a hair mask, and impart excellent lubricity, high luster and soft feel on dry hair.

Styling: Back to Basic Shine Spray

An effective shine spray will pack a powerful punch: It should smooth out hair, hold styles in place, protect hair from heat damage caused by blow-drying or a curling iron, and work equally well on wet or dry hair. It should be the go-to styling product for users of the regimen.

In fact, calling the product a “shine spray” rather than the outdated term hair spray may be to a brand’s benefit as well. Even if the two products work in a similar manner, today’s consumer wants something that sounds more youthful and trendy.

However, it still must function like a great traditional hair spray, keeping styles in place without feeling sticky on hair. A copolymer can deliver extra strong hold with a natural look and feel, and works especially well for root lift on fine hair—a must for mature hair. BASF’s Luvimer 100 P, AkzoNobel’s Amphomer and DSM’s TILAMAR Fix A1000 are examples of ingredients designed to deliver both outstanding hold and stylabilty.

It’s also a plus if the product includes sustainably sourced ingredients that appeal to consumers looking to green their beauty regimen. Argan oil, made from kernels of the argan trees native to Morocco, is one example, and available choices include high-purity compositions of polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega 6, and antioxidants, including vitamin E and squalene—which provide the ability to impart shine without leaving the hair looking greasy. Ecocert and Natrue certified offerings are available.

Repair: Restore Beauty Leave-in Treatment

Sun, wind and heat can take a major toll on hair in the course of a lifetime, causing it to become brittle and prone to split ends. A great leave-in treatment can help restore hair to its natural shine, moisture and body while smoothing and controlling unbecoming frizz. One key addition to any leave-in treatment is panthenol, a provitamin of B5 that works as a humectant, emollient and moisturizer. It’s also the precursor of pantothenic acid, which is a natural component of hair, and helps the treatment get to the root of the damage.

A line of products designed for mature hair can only mean success for a beauty brand—but only when they include the right product mix and the right ingredients. The baby boomers will quickly see through products that overpromise and underdeliver; as always, product effectiveness is key to a line that will keep mature consumers coming back for more.

Kathleen Maurer is the senior marketing manager for DSM Nutritional Products, LLC.

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