The Latest in Hair Innovation: Tech, R&D and NPD

by | Jul 7, 2023

The global hair care market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6 per cent in the next five years, according to the Business of Fashion’s recent report. Here are the trends and innovations propelling the development…

From an increased consumer interest in the effect of environmental aggressors on their hair to, what’s become an age-old trend, the ‘skinification’ of routines, the haircare market has morphed into a monster over recent years. 

Arguably the fallout from the pandemic, these movements are leading to the development of sophisticated innovations that nurture from follicle to tip. Here, we explore several trends from the world of R&D and NPD.

Heat Protection in Tech: Wet-to-Dry Wonders

It takes one scroll of your FYP to understand the consistent quest for faff-free, heat-minimising hairstyling between salon visits. And, what better way to save time but still deliver results, than with wet-to-dry stylers?

Cue leading hair tech innovator, GHD. We all gawped at the launch of the Duet back in February 2023, the brand’s first-to-market, rule-breaking, wet-to-dry styling tool. Designed with the goal of reducing the time and volume of tools required to dry and straighten hair, it uses convection and conduction to dry, style, and set hair for a fuss-free finish.

While there are superior hot brush stylers available that offer similar benefits, GHD’s is the only tool to incorporate ceramic plates that leave airflow to do the heavy lifting. This means the plates operate at a lower temperature than standard straighteners to eliminate damage. 

It’s difficult to hear the term ‘airflow’ without thinking of Dyson. And, it’s no surprise that the brand answered with its Airstrait tool in May – the fourth tool to join its hair tech roster. 

The Airstrait delivers drying and straightening simultaneously without hot plates. Instead, purely relying on air. The brand said: ‘The hair tress is contained by two arms, from which a precisely angled high-pressure blade of air is forced downwards and into the hair, both simultaneously drying and straight styling.’

Hair Protection in R&D: Environment in Focus

With the effects of climate change consistently being felt across the globe, R&D professionals have cited environmental pollution as one of their target areas for technical developments.

Earlier this year, Chemyunion – a Brazilian chemical manufacturer – unveiled its latest innovation, Polluout Detox. The ingredient works to detox the hair shaft and follicle from environmental particulate damage which can cause flaking, breakage and opacity. 

Henrique Marconi, Hair Care Product Marketing Coordinator at Chemyunion explained to Cosmetics Design Europe that Polluout Detox gets to work by causing ‘a synergistic action between the ingredients, acting in three simultaneous steps to promote cleaning and recovery of the hair fibre and scalp, by eliminating or reducing impurities that can cause damage and providing health and well-being, from root to tip​’. Chemyunion has also reported that it’s working to ‘innovate in dry shampoos’. 

Hair Protection in NPD: Scalp to Shaft Solutions

On the topic of dry shampoos, Olaplex released its No. 4D formula in February 2023 – a product that promises to go beyond traditional oil absorption to deliver improvement to both scalp health and hair shaft. But how? 

Firstly, the product doesn’t contain any talc – the brand has instead replaced this with a superfine brown rice starch to absorb scalp oil but also ensure that white dusty patches are a thing of the past. Olaplex Chief Marketing Officer, said: ‘The brown rice is critical because it helps absorb the oil from darker hair colour as well as lighter hair colour.’

Furthermore, thanks to rambutan seed extract, the product prevents product buildup on the scalp by unclogging pores. Without this buildup, the dreaded dry-shampoo itch is eradicated. 

2022 has also seen Guerlain’s first significant venture into the hair care category since 1970 with its Abeille Royale oil-in-serum. Like Olaplex’s 4D, the product is all about scalp and hair shaft health.

The oil-in-serum formulation brings all the rich, nourishing benefits of an oil but offers the texture and weight of water for better distribution – resulting in a grease-free, non-sticky finish. The product carries Dynamic Blackbee Repair technology – a combination of four potent kinds of honey carrying active ingredients to increase hair fibre resistance for markedly thicker hair and purports to triple the health of the scalp.

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