By Tom Branna
Editorial Director Happi
Long or short? Blonde or brunette?Gel or spray? When you want an expert opinion on hair care, ask a hair stylist. And yet, today, more than ever, consumers are heading into salons with a good idea about their hair and the products that go on them, according to industry experts.
“Clients today are more educated on products and services than ever before,” said Cathie Politis Fennell, co-founder of Salon Greco in Duluth, Georgia, USA.“They have access to unlimited information on products and can research any topic they want.”
Clients' concerns have also shifted. Years ago, Fennell recalled, a client would ask for the color, cut or style of a celebrity; but today, they are more concerned with the health of their own hair. “Today, clients ask for customized, unique cuts, colors and style—one that would look great on them,” she explained. “Fashion still plays an important role, but the No. 1 priority is on healthy scalp and hair, just as it is on healthy radiant skin or nails.”
And yet, today, there’s more ways than ever to damage hair and some clients, American teenagers and their European especially, are more than willing to give them all a try—hot irons that bake hair at temperatures of 450°F or higher, harsh styling treatments that dry hair out and primitive color schemes that damage hair cuticles.
“I wish high schools or middle schools would offer a class and explain to students what happens when hair, skin and nails get damaged and how to take care of them properly,” Fennell explained. “We see young people in the southern USA who spray peroxide directly on their hair.”
She recalled one young client who changed her hair color from dark to bleach blond and damaged her hair so much, “that we had to cut three feet off of it,” Fennell said. “Kids see celebrities like Rihanna change her hair color all the time, but what they don’t realize is that Rihanna spends $2000 a day on a personal stylist.”
Not to be outdone, older hair takes a beating from prescription medications and health issues cause hair to thin. “Today, there is a solution to just about any hair or skin issue a customer might have,” said Fennell. “However what customers are seeking is instant gratification on thinning hair. They want instant healthy, full hair. Even though products are easily available, it takes time to grow thicker, healthy hair. No instant hair re-growth yet.”
And when her clients decide to purchase products to improve the health of their hair, Fennell is quick to point them toward the products in her salon, for more than obvious reasons.“There’s a big difference between professional and mass hair care products,” she asserted. “The quality of the ingredients is different, the delivery system is different, too.”
A mass-market formula may contain shea butter just like a professional formula but the quantity and quality of the shea is inferior, Fennell insisted.
The Market Size
According to professional hair care market expert Cyrus Bulsara, founder of Plano, TX-based Professional Consultants and Resources (PCR), the $3.1 billion salon product business is nearly evenly split between back-bar service and retail. In back-bar service, hair color dominates with sales of $736 million, followed by perms/straighteners ($276 million) and ethnic products ($185 million). At retail, shampoos are the top seller ($333 million), followed by specialty products ($308 million) and conditioners ($262 million).
L’Oréal is the salon market leader with a 25.5% share, with Procter & Gamble a distant second at 11%, says PCR. Together, the top 5 players control 55% of the market, with the next five accounting for just 14.6% of salon hair care sales (see chart below).
P&G revamped its roster of brands earlier this year when it sold FrédéricFekkai products and salons to Fekkai Brands, LLC, a new joint venture formed by Designer Parfums CEO Dilesh Mehta and Tony Bajaj, founder and CEO of Luxe Brands. A purchase price was not disclosed, but back in 2008, P&G spent about $400 million to purchase Fekkai from private-equity firm Catterton Partners.
Hair and Skin Care
But regardless of what brand they choose, consumers should always ask a professional for advice.” The best thing a client can do to care for their own hair between salon visits is to ask their stylist for a prescription of professional products,” maintains Fennell, who says a“prescription” should include a seasonal shampoo and conditioner, a weekly mask and scalp treatment and styling products.
Too often, in their quest for beautiful hair, consumers lose sight of their scalp, explained Mary Pergoda of JF Lazartigue, which offers a range of products to soothe sensitive and irritated scalps. Going a step further, JFL’s Stymulactine 21 collection of products promise to revitalize the scalp and strengthen hair.
NewUltra-Regenerating Mask from JF Lazartigue contains hyaluronic acid, collagen and keratin to help prevent the natural oxidation of the hair and regenerate it from the inside, according to company founder Jean-Francois Lazartigue.
“I recommend this Pre-Shampoo Mask for mature, rough and brittle hair,” he told us. “This mask acts by treating the signs of aging hair and restoring the hair nutrients that are lost over time. The hair is strengthened; the fiber is nourished and rebuilt.”
Hyaluronic acid? Collagen? Both are ingredients that have been incorporated into skin care formulas for years. “The top of your head is the same as your face,” Pergoda insisted. “There is a place for anti-aging formulas in hair care.”
Other experts agree. Stylist Kevin Murphy’s hair care collection expanded earlier this year with Treat.Me—a customized in-salon deep conditioning experience inspired by skin care. The Treat.Me line offers a variety of formulas with names like Repair, Nourishment and even, Anti-Aging. According to the company, Treat.Me combines some of nature’s best ingredients with skin care technology in a two-active serum to penetrate hair and provide long-lasting results.
The serum includes an all-vegetable and plant protein system with similar structure to hair. More than 26 amino acids easily penetrate the hair’s surface and strengthen the hair shafts by depositing product into gaps caused by heat and chemical damage, creating a smoother, more supple surface, according to the company, which recommends that Treat.Me should be applied in-salon every 6-8 weeks.
There’s no doubt that the lines between skin care and hair care are blurring. The most effective companies are creating products that deliver real benefits to hair with novel active ingredients.
Who’s No. 1 Chair?
Here are 2014 salon hair care product sales leaders in the $3.1 billion segment, according to Professional Consultants and Resources, Plano, TX.
Private Label 25%
Paul Mitchell 8%
Estée Lauder 6%
Colomer Group 3%
Other 13%Nike SB Hyperfeel Koston 3
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