Hair Color: Enhancing Results, Protecting Color

The basic hair colors—blonde, brunette, black and redhead—come from nature; this is biological fact. The basic chemistry behind the formulation of hair coloring products has not changed much in recent years, but delivery mechanisms, efficacy and product enhancements have created opportunities for growth.

According to Euromonitor, hair colorants grew by 7% in 2005, the most current data available, compared with the 8% growth in the total cosmetics and toiletries sector for the same time frame. The growth it did achieve came largely from the expansion of underdeveloped markets rather than from new products. In an article published in GCI magazine’s September 2006 issue, the research and consulting organization declared that innovation is the key to boosting sales in the category.

“One aspect of our industry that has influenced hair color formulations has been the wealth of ingredients and supporting technical information on how to better deliver color to hair fibers with reduced damage. Additionally, consumer demands, competitive market pressure and changing regulations are drivers which have and will continue to create fluctuations in hair color concepts,” according to Mabel Covey, CTO/VP, science and technology, and William Onyebuagu, director of science and technology for Hair Systems, Inc. Hair Systems has been in the color manufacturing business for over 15 years, performing R&D and contract manufacturing for all types of reactive hair care products.

Specific Demand

In its report, Eurmonitor said that growth in mature segments such as hair care was coming from niche brands and products where the focus has been on “replacing artificial bleaches with gentler, natural ingredients.” International Hair and Beauty Systems’ Organic Color Systems, an ammonia free colorant, and Jots, a product that replaces ammonia and peroxide with burdock oil extract, are two examples.

An aging population and its graying hair, along with growing numbers of consumers who color their hair, has created a niche that answers the demand for color products to cover up root re-growth between salon visits. One such product combines color and developer for permanent color in a dual-chamber applicator that helps customers apply it to their roots. Launched in July 2006, The Mixer is among the latest products designed to help people who color their hair manage the roots and grow-out between salon sessions. The product doesn’t require pre-mixing, because that all happens in the patent-pending applicator.

Three years of R&D and sourcing yielded a product that, since its launch, has garnered a nomination in the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award in the Beauty/Fragrance Entrepreneur category. The product is also on the ballot in the CEW 2007 Beauty Awards. Ruth Stern and Pauline Ashworth, partners in Toronto-based Colour Revolution and creators of The Mixer, said the product is great for travel. The Mixer retails for $26 and is available online or in limited retail in Toronto and New York. Availability is expected to expand into exclusive spas and more retail locations.

The trend for covering root grow-out has not gone unnoticed at Hair Systems. “We have seen products that temporarily cover root growth between salon visits, and we are not surprised by their popularity,” said Covey and Onyebuagu. “Our efforts have been focused on similar and other innovative and unique product concepts with patent potential.”

For years, salon hair color was limited to permanent, semi-permanent and temporary products. Demi-permanent products, designed to last through a few more shampoos than semi-permanent color, emerged in recent years from the innovation and creativity of ingredient suppliers and the product development labs that support marketers, according to Hair Systems. More interesting changes have come from ingredients and technologies not directly related to the color. “Overall, we have put a tremendous amount of effort into designing hair color products that deliver not only desirable color but also benefits such as moisturization, shine and reduced damage with functional ingredients that are substantive to hair,” said Covey and Onyebuagu.

Right on trend is ISO’s i.color line, offering added value and improvements in the form of ISO Tri-Active Technology—a positively charged blend of moisturizers, proteins and vitamin C to condition, strengthen and protect hair throughout the coloring process. New this spring, Ultimate Blonde Shade Collection has been added to the i.color line to offer salon professionals “the ultimate in ultra light blonde shades.”

In addition, ISO offers oxidative dye technology for predictable color results and Triplex-C, a patented “replenishing complex that creates a protective shield around each hair strand for longer-lasting, more durable color results.”

Staying on Trend

“We have observed that customers are looking for new ideas from all avenues or sources available to them,” said Covey and Onyebuagu. “Consequently, we are always seeking new ideas to develop and present to our customers. Whenever we have identified a potential growth area or concept, we have initiated internally driven projects to ready ourselves for potential requests, or to present to customers who may find the concept interesting and marketable.

“Monitoring trends is very important to our business, hence we gather information from many sources ranging from store shelves to subscriptions to market research reports. We also attend technical seminars, conferences, etc., in order to stay abreast of new developments, concepts and technologies. Trade journals and magazines like GCI are also very good information sources for our organization.”

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