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Consumers seek out hair care formulas addressing hair thinning, overall scalp health

Bouncy and shiny are nice, but consumers want stronger tresses and healthy scalps.

Whether from stress, post-pregnancy, heat damage or genetics, American tresses are thinning. As a result, the quest for shiny and bouncy hair is being supplanted by the desire to fortify strands. 

Eighty percent of men and about half of women experience some form of hair loss in their life, according to data from the Mayo Clinic. Compounding that, the pandemic resulted in a spike in people suffering from telogen effluvium, or TE, which is a sudden hair loss spurred by physical or emotional stress. Brands have reacted with shampoos, conditioners, scalp care and supplements to nurture hair health.  

Retailers are clearing shelf space to accommodate contenders in scalp and hair-strengthening formulas. Mass merchants hope to claim the lion’s share of the therapeutic market despite buzzy competitors in specialty and direct channels such as Vegamour (Nicole Kidman just partnered with the hair wellness brand), Olaplex and Pureology. 

Luxury is outpacing mass growth

It is a tall order: According to figures from The NPD Group, hair care is the fastest-growing category in the prestige beauty market, up 24% in the third quarter of 2022. “Premiumization is happening now in hair,”  said Larissa Jensen, beauty advisor to NPD. Because shoppers are trading up, the average ticket is higher and people are not shopping on promotions, she said.

Conversely, IRI data shows mass market hair care across all segments is averaging only about a 3% gain in dollars so far in 2022. Leveraging success in skin care could be the mass market secret to boost hair sales.

“We have been watching the skinification of hair,” said Richie Rubin, executive vice president at Garcoa, a manufacturer of private and controlled personal care. “A number of brands and retailers are adding familiar skin care ingredients to conventional hair care items. This helps promote overall scalp health.” 

The emphasis on higher-priced, skin care-influenced brands is a strategy retailers are adopting to attract shoppers. Ingredients endemic to skin care, such as keratin, biotin, coconut oil, black castor oil, manuka oil and collagen, among others, are appearing in hair formulas.

[Read more: Beauty brands turn to technology in leveling up basic tools]

“We find consumers are really looking for clinically supported products.”
— Andrea Harrison, vice president of beauty and personal care, CVS Health

Dovetailing with that, consumers are also looking for formulas to address aging hair, Rubin said. “As boomers and millennials age, their hair will change. We are seeing products that help with thinning, graying, etc.” 

Pura d’or recently shifted its focus to help retailers build productive therapeutic hair care planograms. The strategy highlights its shampoos and conditioners that address hair thinning and hair loss due to breakage, according to David Horwitz, vice president of retail sales at Vital’s International Group. Currently, therapeutic planograms focus on dandruff, but there is a “white space” for products that address hair health, Horwitz said. 

“Pura d’or products are natural, made with lots of certified organic ingredients and address thinning and loss due to breakage — two very important areas of concern to women, and to a lesser extent to men,” Horwitz said. The brand zeros in on women, age 45-plus, who are experiencing hair thinning or hair loss because of breakage. 

“Our products have been clean and free from everything that the world suddenly realized isn’t good for you since the company started in 2012,” Horwitz said. “In 2012, not many people cared about those things. So, I guess you can say we survived and now the consumers and many retailers have finally caught up with Pura d’or.”

The key products in Pura d’or’s arsenal include: Gold, Hair Thinning Therapy, Apple Cider Vinegar Thin2Thick, Advanced Therapy and Professional Grade Biotin.  

“One trend that we are seeing, and probably due to the high inflation rate, is interest in our 8-oz. sized shampoos and conditioners,” Horwitz noted. “In the past, our primary sales were in the 16 oz.” 

[Read more: Beauty consumers on the demand for transparency]

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Diet affects hair health

Hair, mirroring skin, is impacted by diet and supplements. Just as some people need certain vitamins or supplements, they also have specific needs for hair, said Juan Morillo, marketing director of Xtreme Beauty, makers of the Okay brand. 

“A major hair care trend I have seen in 2022 is building a hair care regimen specific to the individual on an internal and external level,” Morillo said. “In this information era, we have and know more information about ourselves and our health than ever before, and this includes hair health.” 

“We now know that there are many things that we must eat in order to maintain optimal hair and scalp health, not just the products we put on our heads,” he explained. “There are vitamins and minerals that we ingest every day to help our hair and scalp thrive. Internal hair care is just as important if not more than external hair care.” 

Okay developed a line of gummies that help with hair health from the inside out. “We have 21 varieties of gummies including biotin gummies for hair,” Morillo said, adding that the gummies also provide benefits to skin and nails.

Reserveage from Twinlab subscribes to the power of supplements to promote healthy and strong hair. The company’s core merchandising planogram highlights its Keratin Boosters, Keratin for Men and Keratin Gummies. Keratin is a booming market poised to grow by $1.3 billion from 2019 to 2023, said Yamit Sadok, senior director of marketing at Twinlab. The combination of keratin and biotin results in thicker, fuller hair with less shedding while offering protection against heat and styling damage, she said.

[Read more: Skin care goes back to basics]

Nutrafol, which debuted a supplement in 2016, expanded this year into topicals that balance the scalp’s microbiome. Three new products include the Build-Up Blocker (an exfoliating mask), the Root Purifier (a cleansing shampoo) and the Stress Reliever (an essence for the scalp). The company has spent years studying and researching the impact of scalp microbiomes on hair health. The brand said it also has a serum, the Nutrafol Growth Activator, that harnesses the technology of Ashwagandha Exosome to deliver thicker and stronger hair without sticky residues associated with traditional serums.

As part of its stepped-up strengthening assortment, CVS stocks BosleyMD products. Formulated for thinning hair, BosleyMD was created with the input of physicians and endorsed by professional stylists. The CVS lineup includes women’s and men’s hair growth supplements and hair regrowth with minoxidil.  

“We find consumers are really looking for clinically supported products,” said CVS Health’s vice president of beauty and personal care Andrea Harrison.

Among brands falling under scalp care/hair strengtheners carried by major chains are Keranique, Viviscal, hers, The Mane Choice, OGX, Roman Revive, Alikay and, of course, Rogaine, the innovation that kicked off the trend.

RangeMe Top Performers


Nutree Cosmetics Brazilian Hair Bottox Expert Thermal Mask 
SRP: $69.99 (8.8 oz.)
Nutree’s Hair Bottox Thermal Mask is for all hair types and colors. The Brazilian Bottox Expert Thermal Mask is designed to enhance the smoothness, thickness and shine of hair, making it easily manageable. It also regenerates extremely damaged hair by daily aggression and is recommended for weak, dyed and chemically treated hair. The masks are available for hair of any color. 

Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil 
SRP: $11.99 (8 oz.)
Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil is a hair and skin care product that treats dry, damaged hair, strengthening it from root to tip, the company said. The Original JBCO formula has a medium consistency, light ashy aroma and high ash content, ideal for promoting healthy hair growth. The brand said the product enhances the appearance of eyebrows and eyelashes, and is an effective natural treatment for skin conditions such as psoriasis.

R+Co On a Cloud Baobab Oil Repair Masque
Retail price: $44 
This protein-rich, creamy masque renews damaged hair by delivering nourishment, strength and elasticity to hair.    

Methodology: The products selected are RangeMe Verified brands that received the highest positive buyer interaction scores within the hair care category — a score that represents a combination of buyer views, messages, saves, sample requests and purchases of the product. The RangeMe verification process confirms that brands and products meet certain standards and requirements that RangeMe’s retail partners look for before doing business with a brand.

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