Nioxin’s Smoothing System Offers Coarse Hair TLC

NEW YORK — News flash: Wiry, coarse-textured hair is just as prone to thinning as its fine-limp counterpart. And with its new Smoothing System for medium-to-coarse hair, Nioxin Research Laboratories is attempting to give it the TLC it needs to look its best.

Atlanta-based Nioxin, a $250 million privately held company founded by former marketing executive Eva Graham, distributes its tress enhancers through about 65,000 salons in North America, plus 13,000 in 23 other countries. Prior to the debut of the Smoothing System, the 17-year-old company focused its efforts on remedies for fine, thinning hair. Now, thanks to breakthroughs produced by a network of R&D facilities in the U.S. and Europe, coarse thinning hair is getting its due.

And from the sounds of it, it’s not a moment too soon. According to Graham and Trevor Attenborough, Nioxin’s vice president of marketing, coarse thinning hair has its own unique set of problems. Because thinning isn’t as readily apparent with coarse hair as it is with fine limp hair, it can often go undiagnosed considerably longer than it should, forcing its sufferers to try to play catch-up. And while Nioxin doesn’t purport to re-grow hair with any of its products — à la potions such as Rogaine — it does aim to create a “better-quality scalp condition.” This, in turn, is designed to have a positive impact on the hair follicle while it’s still in the all-important growth phase.

That core company premise is woven throughout the 12-item Smoothing System. Billed as the “first-ever comprehensive scalp care system” for medium-to-coarse, unruly hair, the collection is organized into two broad categories: Smoothing Protectives for chemically enhanced hair and Smoothing Actives for nonchemically enhanced hair.

While each group contains the same four items — Moisturizing Cleanser, Moisturizing Scalp Therapy, Bionutrient Moisturizing Treatment and Cytonutrient Treatment — they’re based on different ingredient complexes. Glyco-Fused complex, contained in the Protectives products, is made from herbs and botanicals said to guard the scalp from the irritating effects of residues left from chemical processing. Activ-Renewal complex, in the Actives subrange, boasts a concentrated blast of white tea extract, which the company maintains “helps defy the visible signs of aging.”

This story first appeared in the October 25, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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A third group of products — Smoothing Reflectives — comprises four styling items suitable for chemically and nonchemically enhanced hair: Silk Elixir, Pure Shine Gel, Finishing Crème and Fast Control Non-Aerosol Hairspray.

The entire Smoothing range, which has suggested retail price points of $7.99 to $32.50, is underpinned by a proprietary complex called SmoothPlex. Derived from kukui oil and silk amino acids, the complex is meant to smooth the hair cuticle and enhance shine. According to Attenborough, the Smoothing collection was created to provide moisturization minus the product buildup, resins and damaging alcohols typically associated with items for coarse hair.

Although the company does not break out figures, industry sources estimate Nioxin is looking to do $50 million at retail for the Smoothing System in the first year.

Without question, said Attenborough, American women represent an enormous untapped market for products aimed at addressing thinning hair — coarse or otherwise. “The last study I saw, which just came out recently, puts the number at 42 million by 2013,” said Attenborough. — Dana Wood

L’Oréal USA Sales Up 7.8%

NEW YORK — L’Oréal USA, the New York-based subsidiary of the French cosmetics giant, chalked up a 7.8 percent sales increase in dollar terms for the nine-month period ended Sept. 30. That is a far more dramatic result than the 0.6 percent decline that resulted when the the dollar figures were translated into the much stronger euro. The euro figure was reported in WWD on Thursday in a story on L’Oréal’s global results.

Jean-Paul Agon, president and chief executive officer of L’Oréal USA, noted that the 7.8 percent gain was wiped out in the translation by the 8.5 percent decline in the value of the dollar, compared with the euro, in the last year.

All three main divisions of L’Oréal’s American subsidiary — professional products, mass market consumer products and luxury goods — contributed roughly equally to the overall growth figure, Agon said.

And each division outpaced its respective markets, resulting in market-share growth, he asserted.

For instance, the professional salon products division, driven by hot performance from Redken and Kérastase, achieved what Agon described as “high single-digit” sales growth in a market that is growing by only 2 to 3 percent this year. “Our division is growing two to three times faster than the market,” he noted.

Likewise, consumer products also turned in a high single-digit performance at a time when the mass cosmetics market is flat. Among the stars were the Garnier Fructis hair line. In the 18 months since its launch, the hair care portion of the brand has captured 6 percent of the market and the styling line, launched six months ago, has gained an almost equal share.

The department store market is growing at a maximum 3 to 4 percent this year, Agon estimated, but his luxury division has turned in a roughly 8 percent increase.