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Dove Taps Influencers to Push New Dandruff Line

Beauty bloggers are touting the benefits of the Dove Dermacare Scalp line, entering stores now, on YouTube.

Dove is aiming to make dandruff shampoos a bit more palatable.

The Unilever-owned personal-care brand is on Wednesday launching a digital marketing campaign to accompany its new line of dandruff shampoos, Dove Dermacare Scalp, which began rolling out to stores in January. The campaign, which features YouTube reviews from beauty bloggers who switched from using Head & Shoulders to Dove’s new line, takes direct aim at Proctor & Gamble’s dandruff mainstay, as the reviewers tout the Dove products to be more nourishing for their hair.

“Talking to women who have had scalp issues, many have told us that they use dandruff shampoo for the clinical benefits, but that they have to go to a conventionally heavy moisturizing brand to actually care for their hair,” said Robert Candelino, vice president of marketing and general manager for hair care at Unilever in the U.S.

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So the company developed Dove Dermacare Scalp, a smoothing and hydrating range of dandruff shampoos designed to nourish hair strands while remedying irritated scalps. Included in the line are three pH-balanced formulations, including two two-in-one shampoo and conditioner items, three individual shampoos and one conditioner. Each has a suggested retail price of $4.99.

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To get the word out, Dove is going the influencer route, tapping beauty bloggers to compose YouTube reviews — some of which will live as 35-second spots on Dove’s YouTube page.

“In the past, I’ve tried Head & Shoulders, and to be honest, it just left my hair feeling dry, stripped and rough,” said blogger NaturalMe4C, a woman named Crystal who vlogs about forgoing chemical relaxation in favor of her natural hair texture for her some 128,000 YouTube subscribers. “But that is not the case with Dove. My hair feels soft, more moisturized and healthy. So if you’re suffering from dandruff, check out the new Dove Dermacare.”

Dove is also reaching the Hispanic and Latino market with the influencer strategy by tapping beauty blogger Karen Monserrat, a woman of Mexican heritage living in San Diego, to create a YouTube review for the Dermacare line. Monserrat, who shoots her videos in Spanish, has a YouTube following of more than 350,000 and has 166,000-plus followers on Instagram.

The dandruff shampoo market at mass has historically been dominated by P&G’s Head & Shoulders.

“This is a big opportunity,” Candelino said. “There’s a large portion of the population not using dandruff shampoo because they don’t want to use anything too medicinal, or they feel very reluctant to do so. What this will do is open up the market for women to try dandruff shampoo.”

Head & Shoulders, of course does not quite agree with Candelino’s assertion. A spokesman said in a statement to WWD, “We would like to reinforce that Head & Shoulders has emerged as the leader in dandruff protection and is the world’s number one shampoo, used by 1.3 billion people across 140 countries.” The spokesperson also emphasized that Head & Shoulders is aware that “many women believe that anti-dandruff shampoos…are harsh on hair.” He noted the brand’s new Three Action formula, launched this year with micro zinc mineral particles that are designed to “cleanse, protect and moisturize,” was developed to address that challenge.

Of the Dove formulations, “it’s everything in one product,” according to Dr. Francesca Fucso, a New-York-based dermatologist who is a spokesperson for the line. By everything, Fusco means the zinc pyrithione active ingredient that treats dandruff, along with a “a variety of nourishing oils” to care for the hair. The Dryness and Itch Relief shampoos and conditioners are formulated with coconut and shea butters to hydrate dry scalps, and the Invigorating Mint products are made with spearmint to feel refreshing, and the Pure Daily Care items contain rosemary, said to be purifying.

Candelino noted that the issue of scalp health has permeated the consumer consciousness of late. “It coincides with an overall uplift in wellness in general — we’ve seen it across the portfolio,” he said, noting the new Nexxus City Shield line which protects against environmental aggressors.

“I predicted this 10 years ago based on the women coming to my office and complaining about various things with the scalp,” Fusco said. She pointed to a number of factors that could be to blame — environmental aggressors, increased heat damage from hot tools, and more access to information via the Internet. She forecasted hair thinning as the next problem consumers will more aggressively seek to correct.