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The quest for big-yet-touchable waves is “the second-most-desired end result, after healthy hair,” said Reuben Carranza, director of P&G Salon Professional North America, according to a study conducted by the firm.

This story first appeared in the November 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

But volume, hair companies agreed, is one of the hardest things to achieve since there usually is a payoff for getting big, soft-looking styles, such as flaking and stiffness.

“One raw material commonly used in most volumizing products is PVP/VA, a holding resin, which is a glasslike material that glues hair into place, but it’s super brittle,” said Rob Robillard, chief executive officer of Living Proof. The industry, he said, needed to “find a material that could hold hair and have it look natural at the same time.”

Living Proof’s effort, Full Thickening Cream, is a styling aid that features Poly Beta Amino Ester-1, a new and patented material founded by Living Proof’s team of scientists that is based on technology from the research laboratories of Drs. Dan Anderson and Bob Langer at MIT, two of the founders of Living Proof. The polymer, which has never been used before, is flexible and durable, yet strong and elastic, and looks to provide volume throughout the day without a stiff feel, they said.

“It coats hair at thickening points to transform fine hair. The [formula] doesn’t break off and the hair is malleable,” said Langer, with Robillard interjecting that today’s volume styles are more about hair shape as seen from a profile view, as opposed to the hair root.

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Only a “very small amount” of Full Thickening Cream is needed for efficacy, explained Robillard. The cream is applied just beyond the roots with the user working it down toward hair ends. Full, which industry sources said could generate as much as $20 million in first year sales, will sell for $24 at Sephora and on QVC and the brand’s Web site.

P&G Salon Professional’s unit has harnessed what it contends to be “new-to-the world technology” to bow its new volume range, Sebastian’s Volupt, which is formulated so that hair can achieve 75 percent more fullness versus untreated hair, without the usual payoffs. The range, which includes a shampoo, conditioner and a hair spray, uses cushion-particle technology, said P&G’s Carranza, and merges different elements and adds two new polymers — sipernate and Microthene.

Dr. Steve Shiel, director of P&G Global Beauty Care Scientific Communications, explained that “the sipernate polymer is silica based and causes roughness and friction on the hair strand, while the Microthene polymer, which is used in skin care, is used to get a smooth surface.”

Sebastian, which underwent a transformation 18 months ago and bases new launches on feedback from 10,000 hairdressers and consumers, is positioning Volupt as its biggest and most relevant pillar to date.

“The technology is very important in this product….There has never been a shampoo or conditioner on the market that has been able to deliver volume and softness,” said Carranza.

To promote Volupt, Sebastian is turning to aerialist Rose Mallare, who performs in the Manhattan show “Fuerta Bruza.” Mallare joins designer Charlotte Ronson, who appeared in ads for Sebastian’s Trilliant styling item, as a spokesperson. Volupt, which is priced from $13.95 for a shampoo to $19.95 for the spray gel, is slated to enter 10,000 salons in February and could generate $35 million in first-year sales, according to market sources.

Redken, too, is addressing volume, as the L’Oréal-owned brand found that 42 percent of women in the U.S. believe their hair lacks body. But its new range looks to provide women with twice the volume without a heavy science edge. Instead, the brand is turning to nature for inspiration and has created Nonstop Volume Complex, which contains wheat protein for fullness and lift, soy protein for strengthening support and cotton extract for lightweight detangling. Designed to target fine and flat hair, the items are said to deliver up to 37 percent more volume at the root and last for as long as 24 hours.

Body Full includes a shampoo, lightweight conditioner, volume amplifier and instant bodifier, and several items offer multibenefits, something Patricia Engle, director of U.S. marketing, hair care, said is key, given the current economic times. “Amplifier, one of the products in the Body Full line, is a leave-in spray that can target volume at the roots or also serve as a lightweight refresher between shampoos.” Body Full, she continued, is meant to be used with Redken’s existing line of volume stylers, including the newest, Aerate 08, which fuses volumizing benefits and conditioning properties. Body Full sells from $13 for the shampoo to $16 for the Amplifier and is estimated to generate about $20 million in first-year sales.

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