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Hair Care Gets Into Wellness

As green and clean formulations drive sales of skin care, the hair category is the latest to get in on the game.

Samantha Denis’ conversion to the wellness movement started as it does for many Millennials—slowly over time, influenced by Instagram and expedited by her upcoming wedding.

“I was becoming more of a clean consumer. When I got engaged, I started doing hot yoga, eating less meat, eating more clean and really paying attention to what I put on my body,” said the founder of Allyoos, a natural hair-care line that launches direct-to-consumer this month. “It was getting harder for me to work on conventional products because I felt like they weren’t resonating with me anymore.”

Denis, a former product development manager at Bumble and bumble, left The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. megabrand this year to found Allyoos. The brand is launching with two products—a one-step wash called A Quick Clean, and Juice Drench, a mask packed with food-based ingredients such as spirulina, mango, watermelon seed and coconut oils and touted as a “green juice” for hair.

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“[Caring for hair] has really become this self-care, ritual experience,” said Nancy Twine, founder of Briogeo, a prestige hair brand that sells products derived from natural ingredients. Twine has expanded her business into tools that aid in the self-care experience—this year she released a limited-edition rose quartz crystal comb and a $16 scalp massage tool, which was a surprise top-seller with retailers. In January, Twine will roll out B.Well, a line of wellness-inspired multipurpose beauty oils.

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Allyoos and B.Well are just two examples of a slew of new lines hitting the market late this year and early next that merge the wellness movement and the hair category. These brands are addressing burgeoning consumer demands that are intrinsically linked with wellness, and include everything from OGX’s Green Tea Fitness line to Skin Gym’s crystal combs and U.K.-based Ikoo brushes, which are inspired by traditional Chinese medicine and meant to stimulate the scalp’s meridians. It has even spread to salons—in New York, holistic scalp facials have been introduced at the David Mallett and Pierre Michel salons, while Masa.Kanai, the first U.S. outpost of Japan’s Mode K head spas, opened in New York earlier this year.

While skin-care sales were boosted this year by consumer demand for natural ingredients, wellness’ influence has been slower to hit hair care. But as the category grows—prestige hair grew 27 percent year-over-year, according to NPD—it is becoming increasingly aligned with wellness. What started with a demand for sulfate- and paraben-free formulas is giving way to a wave of products formulated with natural ingredients and inspired by holistic remedies.

“Wellness has become the lens through which pretty much everything is consumed—you’re seeing every single product category, from paint colors to lamps to apps, differentiate through a well-being lens,” said Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the Innovation Group at J. Walter Thompson. “It speaks to this disillusionment [in the U.S.] with chemicals and preservatives, with the regulations in place not being comprehensive or consistent. Anything that goes into your body or onto your body, from tampons to cleaning products, has become important.”

Greene views hair care as a “latter progression” of the wellness movement. “It’s linked to the idea that consumers see everything as intertwined, they’re trying to clean up every single aspect of the way they live and everything they put in their body.”

Shampoo and conditioner were the “most requested products” at Ursa Major, said brand cofounder Emily Doyle. The Vermont-based natural skin-care company focuses on clean versions of skin-care essentials, but is launching its first hair-care products, the Go Easy Daily Shampoo and Conditioner, this month. The products are formulated with natural ingredients such as coconut surfactants, soy proteins and jojoba oils.

Doyle’s theorizes that more consumers are interested in clean hair care now because clean skin care has hit critical mass. According to NPD, natural brands accounted for 25 percent of skin-care sales in the third quarter of 2018, and comprise the fastest-growing segment within the category.

“Skin and body care feel like the first places when you’re trying to make the switch—you’re like, “I’m rubbing lotion on my body everyday and I want to find an alternative,” Doyle said. “Hair care and makeup is round two. You’re, like, ‘OK, I have a safe deodorant because I’ve transitioned my skin-care routine—where else can I make changes?”

It is not only natural ingredients that consumers are interested in, but more natural hairstyles as well. The movement toward embracing individuality and wearing hair in its natural textures has given way to a boom in treatment products infused with natural ingredients, rather than styling products loaded with synthetics.

“It got very editorial for a while. For a really long time, hair was something you wanted to manipulate and do crazy styles with—the wet, slicked look or the dry look with powders,” said Doyle, who, like Denis, worked for prestige hair brands before founding her own line. “The pendulum has come the other way now and people are interested in looking all-natural and having that natural beauty.”

Twine echoes this sentiment. “It’s the notion of, ‘If I treat my skin and hair really, really well, I don’t need to wear all the makeup. It’s this movement of the consumer thinking about natural beauty not just from an ingredient perspective but from a personal perspective. ‘How can I enhance my natural beauty and make it look so good that I don’t need all the other makeup?’”

That thinking informed the development of B.Well, a line of wellness products under Briogeo. Twine is starting with two multipurpose items—100 percent organic and cold-pressed castor oil and tea tree oil—and will roll out a larger assortment in September, complete with topicals and ingestibles across the skin, body and sleep categories.

The idea for B.Well came from the entrepreneur’s own personal circle of friends and family, whom she said frequently go online to research natural beauty remedies. “What I continue to see is people seeking out natural alternatives to different remedies, such as tea tree oil in place of Accutane. Or you’ll see someone on Instagram saying, ‘[Lash serum]’ burned my lashes, so I started using castor oil and look at the incredible results I got. I think that’s really compelling.”