Aquis, the company that changed how millions of consumers dry their hair, wants to rewrite the rules of cleansing and conditioning.
This month the company rolls out Aquis Prime, a hair-care system addressing hygral fatigue, the damage to hair when it gets wet and loses strength. The four-step lineup makes its debut on sephora.com and aquis.com. Prices range from $26 to $49.
It’s a good time to bring innovation to prestige hair care. According to The NPD Group, premium hair growth is outpacing that of makeup and skin care in the U.S. Sales rose 19 percent to $645.4 million for the 52-week period ended in May, propelled, at least in part, by more lines expanding into the prestige channel. “It’s a different story from last year, when hair was only growing about 5 percent,” said Larissa Jensen, beauty industry analyst at NPD.
Industry sources estimate the system can bring in sales of $25 million by 2020. This year, the company is on target to expand its sales by 90 percent.
Aquis will have to help convince consumers of the benefit of shaking up their traditional habits. As part of the process, Aquis’ founders Britta Cox and Suveen Sahib are asking people to eliminate the traditional conditioning step that Cox said traps in moisture, while also using a primer before hopping into the shower. The latter is compared with using a facial primer as more skin-care technology translates into hair.
To explain how water weakens hair, Cox likens hair to fingernails, which are both composed of keratin. “When your nails get wet they get weak. The same is true of hair.” Moisture actually causes hair to swell from the shaft, rendering it weak, frizzy and more difficult to style.
Sahib said hair can be up to 56 percent weaker when wet, depending on hair type and hair condition. The company has already proven that its Aquis Hair Towels and Turbans help dry hair 50 percent faster than traditional towels without damaging friction or excessive heat. Feedback from those who account for the more than one million Aquis Towels and Turbans that have been purchased globally since 2016 prompted the team to find a way to halt damage before washing hair.
“We never thought we’d get into shampoo,” said Cox. “Who needs another shampoo? But we recognized we needed something that starts well before the typical shampoo to avoid damage.”
That led to the four-step Aquis Prime system, consisting of a Water Defense Pre-Wash, a pH balance restoring spray formulated with coconut oil and an amino acid complex that protects before water is applied; an in-shower Rebalancing Hair Wash, the Aquis Hair Turban and finally, a Restorative Leave-In Mist.
While it is a leap of faith for some to eliminate conditioning, Cox said the results will convince consumers to rework their regimens. “We’ve even had the most textured-haired people who would never consider not using conditioner say they have better results. The other thing we’re trying to change is to get people to use a primer before getting into the shower.”
While each step can be incorporated into any hair-washing routine, using the entire system helps strengthen hair over time and provides noticeable results after even a single wash, according to Cox.
Sahib added that the system, including the towel, actually reduces the time it takes to wash and dry hair.
“We are moving toward a hair-positive world, and it’s time our products catch up,” said Sahib. “Instead of temporarily changing the way hair looks, we focus on making it intrinsically stronger and healthier.”
The Aquis Towels and Turbans are sold at Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Neiman Marcus and other top beauty retailers in the USA. Luxury brand Violet Grey launched the Aquis x Violet Grey, an exclusive product. Aquis is also distributed in 14 European Union countries and top retailers in Asia and Australia, including Joyce, Lane Crawford and Mecca. Aquis is actively engaging with top hair salons with its back bar towels. The company’s growth attracted the attention and personal investments from top female investors like Blythe Jack (TSG Partners) and Sonya Brown (Norwest Venture Partners), along with other investors, which include Guthy Renker Ventures. Aquis has raised more than $5.5 million in seed capital to support its expansion in hair care and innovations in hair biotech.