Hair color market sees revitalization as better-for-you products gain traction

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Hair color has a moment.

Brands are pushing new innovations from the professional and retail side, and despite a lot going on around consumer departure from hair dye during the COVID-19 era, the hair dye market remains big.

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In the United States, retail hair color reportedly brought in nearly $1.9 billion in sales for 2021, according to Euromonitor, down slightly from 2020 but more than the category’s $1.76 billion. in 2019. Prestige hair color, however, is much smaller, with approximately $48 million in sales for 2021, compared to $27 million in 2019, said Larissa Jensen, vice president and industry advisor, beauty, at NPD Group. The category grew in 2020 as salons closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to grow through 2021, Jensen said.

“For all the women who said, ‘I’m going to kiss my grey,’ there were plenty more fighting,” Jensen said.

For these consumers, there are several new product lines on the market, both on the professional and retail side. In March, Walmart announced that it would buy a range of colors from Bleach London for 3,500 stores.

Ulta Beauty has also been building its hair color assortment in recent years and stocks Madison Reed, DPHue and other lines. At Ulta salons, Redken Express Root Touch Up has been in high demand since its launch in late 2021, said vice president of merchandising Jessica Phillips, as has Olaplex, which can be added to Ulta salons for color processes.

“We have seen customers come back [to salons] and then some, but also have that flexibility to do their own color at home,” Phillips said. “Some of that is driven by content and social conversations, and some of it is driven by the innovation we’ve seen coming from brands.”

This innovation includes better-for-you positioning and cleaner formulations, Phillips said.

Recent examples in retail include Clairol’s recently launched bleach-free home lighting system, as well as a lip gloss containing argan oil and shea butter. Clairol also launched a new Root Touch Up system containing zero ammonia earlier this year.

On the professional side, Moroccanoil launched its first professional hair color collection in February, featuring permanent and demi-permanent hair color and highlighters containing the brand’s exclusive ProArginine + ArganID system, intended to keep hair healthy.

Moroccanoil Vice President of Global Education Robert Ham calls the line “care-infused hair color.” By the end of the year, the brand estimates the color option will be in several thousand living rooms, and Americas Managing Director Jay Elarar has estimated that it could represent 20-30% of the activity in the future.

In prestige color, IGK in January launched IGK Color, a permanent at-home color line for $25 sold at Ulta and online.

“COVID-19 happened and a lot of people were coloring their hair at home. We were inspired by these customers,” said Dan Langer, group president for prestige hair at Luxury Brand Partners. “They were using products that didn’t necessarily reflect their lifestyle or aesthetic.”

So with IGK Color, the brand aimed to make in-home color products that resonated with millennials and Gen Z, Langer said. The goal was to create “something that was now and fun and in the moment and fresh,” as well as “vegan and healthy and high performing,” Langer said.

Young customers approach hair color differently than previous generations, Langer said. “It’s about adding lavender, adding a highlight, part of their fashion ethos.”

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