The issue of female hair loss was pushed to the front burner during this month’s Hair Loss Awareness month campaign. Men account for the lion’s share of the $3.5 billion that IBISworld reported is spent on hair loss and thinning products. But women represent the biggest growth opportunity, with volume expanding more than 40 percent a year.
Women traditionally have been reluctant to discuss thinning tresses. “They will tell you almost anything — Botox, collagen — they will not historically talk about losing hair,” said Melisse Shaban, founder and chief executive officer of Virtue Labs, a hair-care line that treats underlying damage to restore healthy locks. “It is such a mortifying and embarrassing condition. Now the shame is gone, and people are telling each other what has worked for them.”
Jackie Flam, vice president of retail and salon for brands Eau Thermale Avène; Klorane and René Furterer, put it succinctly: “Hair loss is no longer a concern plaguing only middle-aged men.”
What’s ignited conversations are events such as this month’s Hair Loss Awareness efforts by brands, but also online chat rooms and social media posts, especially from celebrities. “While makeup and skin care have thus far been changed to the greatest extent because of social media, the hair-care market is joining in,” stated Jennifer Famiano, manager, industry analyst for beauty at the NPD Group.
In fact, “Southern Charm’s” Cameran Eubanks recently posted clumps of her hair that had fallen out on her Instagram account. “After you have a baby, all kinds of fun things happen to your body,” joked Eubanks, noting postpartum hair loss is one.
Singer and actress Debbie Gibson searched the Internet to help her prepare for her Hallmark Channel film “Wedding of Dreams,” and her concert tour this summer with Tiffany. “The area framing my face was getting thinner,” Gibson told WWD, blaming myriad reasons ranging from stress, hormones and health issues to the climate where she lives in Las Vegas. She searched the Web for options such as wigs or supplements and instead discovered Keranique, which she credits with getting her camera-ready. Eubanks also touts Keranique in posts that she said are not advertisements.
Giorgios Tsetis, ceo and cofounder of Nutrafol, added Jada Pinkett Smith to the growing list of public figures saying they too experience issues with thinning hair. His company, which makes a female-specific hair loss supplement for women (as well as a male-specific formula), is changing the chatter by promoting Hair Growth Awareness month versus loss.
“We plan to introduce a new voice that eliminates fear and shame and one that inspires and empowers people to take control, ask questions and advocate for their personal hair journey,” he said. That includes social campaigns introducing U Grow educational models, a growing cadre of influencers, press educational events and direct mail programs.
The market potential is huge. Forty percent of women experience visible hair loss by age 40 (85 percent of men by age 50), according to the American Hair Loss Association. “But that figure covers products alone. If you factor in the time and money women spend in the salon to have their hair set to disguise thinning, have extensions and weaves put in, etc., the figure would be much higher,” said Maria Halasz, ceo of Évolis Professional.
The trained trichologists at the Philip Kingsley clinic in New York City have noticed women are looking to address the reasons for hair loss, rather than just cover up sparse spots. That supports the very foundation of the brand, which focuses on scalp health. As women research causes, the trichologists said they expect “exponential growth in products that create the right environment for hair to flourish.” With a collective 100-plus years of clinical experience, the Philip Kingsley experts have spent seven years formulating the brand’s holistic three-step daily Trichotherapy regimen to treat hair loss.
The female hair-growth market is skewing more to the prestige sector. According to IRI data, the mass hair-growth category actually was down 1.8 percent for the 52-week period ended July 15. Although the NPD Group doesn’t break out hair growth, the company’s latest data revealed that prestige hair expansion is outpacing that of makeup and skin care in the U.S. NPD’s Famiano singled out a sales spike in Olaplex which helps repair broken hair bonds before, during and after chemical services. “The brand, though still in its infancy, is the third fastest-growing brand in overall hair care when ranking on incremental dollar gain,” she said.
Retailers are seeing the surge. “While the quest for great products and solutions for women with thinning hair is not new, we have definitely seen more talk about it and more questions,” confirmed Ian Ginsberg, president of C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries. “They are more open to supplements like Viviscal as well as hair-thickening shampoos, volumizing shampoos and a variety of stylers that boost density and cause the hair shaft to swell. With all the products, treatments, tools and extensions there’s bound to be a little loss, and supplements and thickening and volumizing products can certainly help to add some waves.”
One reason for the sales expansion is the fact that women are experiencing more hair loss than men today, according to Dr. Sophia Kogan, chief medical officer at Nutrafol. Hair loss, she said, is brought on by everything from hormonal changes to overuse of styling tools and stress. “Hair is a direct reflection of our internal health and well-being.”
Dominic Burg, chief scientist and hair biologist at Évolis Professional, added, “We see that hair loss in women is largely different to what is seen in men, with a more diffuse thinning pattern, rather than total baldness on top, and a variety of different root causes. The common thread to all of these hair loss challenges is that they result in the same thing happening to the hair follicle. The root of this lies in the hair cycle, the specific growth pattern of hair. What happens when we have a hormonal change, stress, illness, etc., is the growth phase of the hair cycle becomes too short, hair falls out too quickly, excess shedding occurs, and the regenerating hair comes in finer and less substantial.”
Compounding the issue, said Andrew Surwilo, ceo of Atlantic Coast Brands, the parent of Keranique, is that women are starting to lose their strands at an even younger age. At one time 7 percent of its users were in the 25- to 35-year-old age bracket; that’s moved up to 16 percent.
Keranique, which is devoted exclusively to women’s hair needs, pumps an estimated $25 million into direct-to-consumer vehicles to educate (and sell) products and is now expanding its distribution to salons. “The majority of women have never tried anything. They think there are no solutions or are worried they will make the problem worse,” said Tom Shipley, Atlantic Coast founder and ceo.
Surveys the company conducted revealed a large percentage of its customers heard about Keranique from stylists. To that end, the brand is adding to its direct-to-consumer model and availability on HSN and in Ulta Beauty, J.C. Penney and Sephora with the line entering professional doors. Additionally, Keranique plans to add 10,000 more retail doors in the next year.
A salon is the natural place to have a conversation about hair loss, according to Ryan Sieverson, president of Seven Haircare. “At Seven Haircare we saw that the personal relationships our stylists form with their clients also made talking about hair loss less stigmatizing. We took a bold path to develop our Seven Haircare Satara Opti’s biotin supplement [which is formulated to support the growth of healthy hair], and brought the same standards for formulation that we use in all of our products. It also is a complement to the personal commitment we have with our clients to cultivate naturally healthy, touchable hair.”
Halasz at Évolis Professional had personal experience with hair loss 10 years ago. “I felt totally alone, as no one was talking about female hair loss as an issue. After searching for a long time, I found Évolis, which changed my life. I started to tell my story and realized that there was a growing number of women who, like me, were prepared to share their hair loss experience. Since then I feel like being part of a growing community of women openly discussing this very personal issue,” she said.
Right from the start, the brand has been “female friendly,” addressing not only loss, but thinning and hair aging. “It was important that we address hair quality concerns from root to tip. We know that at least half of our customers are women and they see Évolis as an all-in-one anti-aging hair solution,” Halasz said. The brand is currently sold across the globe and online at Neiman Marcus and Bloomigdale’s and will expand into stores next months. Additionally, Évolis will add to the growing beauty assortment at Soft Surroundings.
Bosley Professional Strength is attacking the issue from the inside out. The brand, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, has new Vitality Supplements for Women. This formula helps to inhibit the triggers that can lead to weak, thinning or miniaturized hair, while also restoring and nourishing the hair and scalp to help develop thicker, shinier, healthier-looking hair. A men’s version is launching. Bosley also hits upon the need for products for hair loss after pregnancy with its Bosley Professional Strength New Mom Hair Recovery Kit.
“Hair loss isn’t something women should just have to live with at any age,” said industry veteran Jim Markham, ColorProof founder, ceo and product developer. ColorProof is introducing BioRepair-8, a professional-strength solution for thinning as well as preventative maintenance, for color-treated hair. Inspired by skin-care technology, this chemical-free, three-step system targets the four main causes for female hair loss at the bio-cellular level to regenerate the scalp, improve strength and density and deliver noticeably thicker, fuller hair within 60 days.
More and more women are looking for more natural alternatives to chemical-laden choices without sacrificing results, said Flam. “Ingredients like minoxidil and finasteride have well-documented side effects that make women seek out natural alternatives, including plant extracts and essential oils like those we utilize in both Klorane and René Furterer products for hair thinning,” she said.
Devices are also getting into the action to help female follicles. The iRestore Laser Hair Growth System is an FDA-cleared, at-home solution for hair loss that is non-invasive, with no side-effects, surgeries or drugs. The device uses medical-grade cold laser technology to improve scalp conditions and stimulate new hair growth. Users wear the device every other day for 25 minutes, and typically start to see results within three months as shedding decreases and new hair growth begins, the company said. Available online at iRestoreLaser.com, the system is complemented by hair-restoration products that enhance the effects of the laser helmet such as a shampoo, serum and gummy vitamins.