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Science-led skincare brands, whose focus on ingredients and efficacy has boomed in recent years, are applying their approach to haircare, a category that’s lacked the same level of innovation as beauty.
Skincare brand Augustinus Bader is among the first to try it, by bringing its medical expertise to the haircare space. Launched in 2018, Augustinus Bader is expecting revenues of $70 million this year with its playbook of promoting the science behind its skincare products, namely its best-selling $282 Rich Cream. Now, five haircare products are being launched with a similar approach: a shampoo, conditioner, leave-in treatment, hair oil and scalp treatment, with prices ranging from £38 ($50) to £62 ($80) sold across department stores and specialty beauty retailers including Cult Beauty, Space NK, Net-a-Porter, Sephora, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
The range took 18 months to formulate, and is a natural next category for Augustinus Bader, co-founder and CEO Charles Rosier says. “When you know how to create an optimal cellular environment for the natural processes of repair to happen to your skin, the same discipline can be applied to the hair follicle, scalp and hair itself.”
The $78.61 million global haircare market climbed just 1.8 per cent this year, according to Euromonitor, lagging skincare’s 5.9 per cent growth. However, the opportunity lies in the relatively underserved premium haircare market — still less than 10 per cent of total prestige beauty sales in the US — but growing at a much faster pace than the mass haircare market where there hasn’t been much innovation.
The haircare market is dominated by legacy players such as L’Oréal, which owns Kerastase, Redken and Garnier; and the Estée Lauder Companies, with its brands including Aveda and Bumble and Bumble. Celebrity hairstylists such as Jen Atkin, Sam McKnight, John Frieda and Frédéric Fekkai also have their own range of premium products. However, science-backed hair products with specific ingredients and use cases (anti-dandruff, for instance) have been harder to find at the premium level.
There are signs of change. Olaplex, a haircare brand based on hair bond-building and scalp care, raised over $1.55 billion when it went public in September, with a valuation of $13.6 billion. Brands such as Prose and Function of Beauty focus on personalisation, creating shampoos and conditioners that can be formulated in endless ways. Meanwhile, new upstarts including Ceremonia and THOM (This Hair of Mine), launched by Cyndia Harvey, the hairstylist who works with Bottega Veneta and JW Anderson, are creating products tailored …….