Kérastase's Aura Botanica collection.


Kérastase is angling to play in the natural hair-care space.

Today, the L’Oréal-owned company will introduce its most natural line to date, Aura Botanica, a four-product collection that will be launched in salons and counters early next month. The range contains the highest percentage of natural ingredients of any hair-care products Kérastase has brought to market since the company was founded 53 years ago, according to Vincent Nida, Kérastase general manager. Model Toni Garrn is the face the collection’s campaign that will hit Feb. 1.

Development on Aura Botanica began in 2013, Nida said during an interview Monday morning, revealing that “years and years of research” went into sourcing raw ingredients and perfecting the formulas.

It took hundreds of trials to “finally get where we wanted to be,” Nida admitted, but he’s confident in the result.

The line was able to achieve an average of 98 percent natural origin ingredients, with a Bain Micellaire Gentle aromatic shampoo; Soin Fondamental Moisturizing deep conditioner; Concentré Essentiel Aromatic nourishing Oil Blend and Essence d’Éclat Moisturizing oil-mist each ranging from 96 to 99 percent in natural origin. The remaining synthetic percentage comes from fragrance or the addition of compounds to ensure the stability of the formula, he noted. Additionally, each formula is, on average, 97 percent biodegradable. All packaging — comprised of amber red bottles and tubes — is made from 100 percent post consumer recycled plastic. While Kérastase tries to use natural ingredients whenever it’s feasible and doesn’t change the efficacy, the existing 11 collections (10 hair care and one styling line) typically have formulas that are in the 70 percent natural range, excluding leave-on treatments and masks.

When it comes to incorporating natural ingredients in hair care, Nida explained, there are two constraints: the first is that it’s challenging to achieve the same efficacy that synthetic ingredients can and the second is stability. There is also the issue of fragrance, with some raw ingredients having a natural smell that won’t resonate with consumers.

“We have tested so many formulas. Sometimes we got there in terms of efficacy, but the fragrance wouldn’t be stable…or we got there in terms of sensoriality, but not performance,” Nida said, detailing the challenges encountered in developing the range. “Sometimes [the formulas] aren’t stable, and we wanted to make sure you don’t all of a sudden get [something] that will split between the oil and the cream. You’ll have the cream or treatment, but an oil coming out [of the bottle] first, and it won’t be mixed in.”

The two main ingredients are Samoan coconut oil and Moroccan Argan oil, and also include Avocado Oil, Jojoba Oil, Sweet Orange Essential Oil, Rosemary Extract and Damask Rose Floral Water. All formulas are free of silicones and sulfates

“It’s been very difficult to reach the level of performance we have. Getting to over 90 percent is a…challenge if you don’t want to comprise on anything,” Nida said.

He declined to give figures but said he sees Aura Botanica becoming a “really significant” share of Kérastase’s business. An industry source said the range could do $25 million in retail sales during its first year.

“The natural market is growing at a very fast pace in hair care and skin care. We see it growing high-double digits,” Nida continued. “We don’t think it will cannibalize any existing ranges because it has a very different type of finish.”

It’s also targeting a new consumer, that previously, the brand was unable to tap into. One who is aware of Kérastase, he said, but has not purchased any products yet because they seek natural hair care. It’s less about age, Nida maintained, although he believes Millennials and younger women tend to prioritize purchasing beauty items with natural ingredients. He thinks the new range will attract a slightly younger customer than the current average age of the brand.

A corresponding salon experience will roll out in February too, which starts with a hand massage using Concentré Essentiel Aromatic nourishing Oil Blend before the treatment is applied to the hair. A scalp massage follows, the oil blend is removed with a Konjac sponge, the hair is washed twice with the Bain Micellaire shampoo, Soin Fondamental is put in clean hair (with a few drops of the oil blend added depending on the hair’s condition), another head massage takes place and Essence d’Éclat oil is sprayed as a final touch.

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