Skinification, Scalp care, and Sustainability: an overview of the top 3 hair care trends

Sara Vincini

Hair care is the second segment of the beauty and personal care market, after skincare, and is rapidly growing with a +4.8% annual growth (CAGR) between 2020-2023, approaching nearly $12 billion today.

Attention to health, skinification, product heritage, and scientific background are the elements that will provide the backdrop for the hair care world in the coming years.. According to Euromonitor, the current market is valued at $613 billion, including shampoo & conditioner (38%), hair styling products (24%), color products (22%), and treatments (16%).

With consumers increasingly seeking a healthy scalp and healthy hair, increased attention is being given to ingredients like CBD, pre-pro-post biotics, and keratin in beauty formulations. Future trends highlighted recently by Beautystreams include active ingredients for restoring hair pigmentation, solutions to slow greying, and ingredients connected to ancestral rituals that honour secular cultures. 

As boundaries across sales channels have become more blurred with the arrival of a new generation of direct-to-consumer hair care brands, spurred by forced salon closures during the 2020 pandemic. This resulted in consumers who are more engaged in hair care at home, exploring holistic products that are full of health and well-being benefits. And many brands have expressed that trend entering the segment with Cécred (by Beyoncé), Augustinus Bader, and the latest swipe of K18 by Unilever Prestige showing strong interest in hair care.

The premium segment is the fastest growing in the beauty market overall,  with a gross perspective between 2023 to 2027 of an estimated and will grow at an estimated 6.5% annually (CAGR) over the next five years according to recent data from Reportlinker projects the global hair and scalp care market will reach $121.4 billion by 2027.*

From scalp care to skinification, and sustainability, these three trends are dominating the segment painting the picture for the new landscape of hair.

The skinification of the hair care industry

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There is a greater convergence between the two segments: Skin & Hair with new hair products solutions with skincare-inspired ingredients like hyaluronic acid or vitamin C, and crossover products that can be used for both hair and skin.

Hair serums or toners:

  • lightweight, leave-in products that are designed to target specific hair concerns

Scalp scrubs:

  • work to remove buildup and dead skin cells from the scalp. This can help to promote healthy hair growth and prevent dandruff

Day creams:

  • Help to protect and nourish the hair throughout the day against environmental damage, such as UV rays and pollution.

In the hair care segment, consumers are interested primarily in Shampoos (91%), then scalp massagers (54%), preshampoo treatments (50%), and Serums (46%).*

The skinification of the scalp on TikTok now as the hashtag #scalpcare has over 297 million views, and “searches for ‘scalp detox’ have increased by 312% over the last five years.

Anti-ageing is also a focus for hair across generations with a survey conducted by The Benchmarking Company (TBC) showing American women sharing their ageing concerns and needs in hair care routines:

72% need prevention hair shedding/loss, 66% are concerned with thinning hair,  60% with dull/lifeless hair, 50% with greying hair and 23% are looking for scalp conditioning.

Healthy scalp, healthy hair

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In addition to skincare-inspired active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, and niacinamide (Vitamin B3) being used in hair and scalp products and routines, there's a growing interest in products and brands that restore the skin’s barrier and that hydrate and repair damage from physical and chemical treatments. This is all based on what happened in the East, especially in Japan, where for over a decade, products that act on the well-being of the scalp have been all the rage. 

Premium scalp and hair care products have become a dynamic market segment, driven by the “skinification” of hair care. As we’ve already witnessed happen between skincare and make-up, the haircare world is also seeing a melding of skin care and hair care. 

If sophisticated formulas and skin-inspired ingredients that aim to provide results are mainstream, then new beauty routines foresee the use of specific, high-performance products like lightweight leave-in serums to shape, repair, and nourish hair, scalp-purifying scrubs that get rid of excess oil, dust, pollen, and pollution, and daily treatments like creams and lotions that protect the scalp from environmental pollution and external factors like smog and UV rays.

The market confirms this: according to Reportlinker, the global market for hair and scalp products will reach $121 billion by 2027 with a 6.3% CAGR. The growth isn't just in natural and bioactive products either, clean brands now take up 25% of the market, 5 percentage points higher than in 2021, and products focusing on the scalp will make up 15% of new launches between 2023-27. In January 2023, Spate reported a 28% year-on-year increase in searches for scalp products.

Sustainability at the heart of it all

Photo by Cristobal Baeza / Unsplash

Lastly, one of the biggest trends in hair care is sustainability. Calling this a “trend”, though, wouldn’t do it justice: sustainability in hair care, just as in skincare and the cosmetics industry as a whole, is a tangible value that we all should embrace, promote, and safeguard.

Crafting effective, luxurious hair care products that are housed in visually pleasing, functional, and responsible packaging and do not harm the planet, though, is easier said than done. These are the ways companies in the hair care sector are currently trying to move towards more eco-friendly practices:

  • Solid and waterless formulations, such as shampoo bars, helping to reduce water consumption and cut carbon emissions
  • Natural formulations, using ingredients that are sourced ethically and sustainably such as plant-derived oils, biotin, vitamins, and adaptogens, and moving away from sulphates, silicones, parabens, and other artificial or chemical additives
  • Refillable and/or returnable packaging, empowering consumers to make better choices for the environment
  • Biodegradable packaging, allowing to decrease plastic waste and promoting the use of alternative materials such as glass and bamboo.

The future of hair care is here

Photo by Montsera Production / Pexels

From injecting skincare principles into hair care routines to sourcing greener formulations and packaging solutions, the hair care industry is packed with interesting trends. Staying ahead of them is one of the keys to continuing to develop and offer efficacious products that are better for the hair and the planet.