Scalp Care Update: trends, opportunities, and ideas about an emerging category

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

lab photo courtesy of Dynamic Blending
lab photo courtesy of Dynamic Blending

Related tags: Scalp care, Innovation, trend spotting, Formulation

For years now, scalp care has been worth watching. But already this year it’s been included in Forbes coverage of the biggest beauty trends of 2021. Here, Cosmetics Design looks at the latest launches and considers what founders and formulators already know about the future of scalp care.

“There’s next to nobody in the scalp care market,”​ Christian Kasteler, Head of R&D for Dynamic Blending, tells Cosmetics Design. And this leaves the category wide open for innovation.

It also means that there is work to be done in terms of consumer education about both what scalp care can do—the benefits—and what it looks like—the formats. Most of the scalp care products on the market today can be considered skin care or skin treatments for the scalp.

New scalp care products highlight potential for category innovation

JOZI CURLS HAIR & SCALP OIL

Products like Jozi Curls Hair & Scalp Oil are one the market now​ and are, in effect, doing some of that consumer education work and further proving the scalp care concept. The brand retails online at Target.com and will at the end of the month be in-store at all Target locations.  

The Jozi Curls brand was developed for consumers with curly or coily hair. And the Jozi Curls Hair & Scalp Oil is “a light-weight and non-greasy formula that is recommended for dry hair, scalp care, and split ends. The multi-use oil adds softness and shines to curl types, leaving the scalp feeling fresh and rejuvenated,” ​as a spokesperson for the brand tells Cosmetics Design.

Bouclème-scalp-exfoliating-shampoo

Newly launched in the UK is a Scalp Exfoliating Shampoo from a brand called Bouclème​. Marketing language shared about this product tells consumers, “Your scalp is fragile, so the hydrogenated castor beads gently exfoliate, stimulating hair follicles for healthy growth and removing dead skins cells and product build-up.  Uplifting properties of Spearmint and Grapefruit, combined with soothing Marjoram, will invigorate your scalp with a cool tingly sensation.”

Gemmist-balancing-scalp-bar-innovation

And this past October, a Seattle, Washington – based hair brand called Gemmist launched a Scalp Balancing Bar​. The product is intended as a once-a-week soap-free exfoliator, moisturizer, and scalp stimulator.

Gemmist Founder and CEO Allison Harr tells the press, “The Scalp Balancing Bar took over a year to develop, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer this product to our existing lineup of haircare essentials.” ​And she explains the motivation to do so saying, “Compared to the skin on our bodies, the scalp contains more sebaceous and sweat glands as well as hair follicles, which makes it very important to take care of.”

A product formulator’s notes and insights on scalp care

“Scalp care products need to deal directly with discomfort and irritation, or the visual aspects like peeling or redness,” ​says Christian Kasteler, Head of R&D for Dynamic Blending. Kasteler specializes in Bio-Chemical Engineering and before joining the team at Dynamic Blending amassed over 15 years of experience in pharma. Dynamic Blending is an award-winning contract manufacturer based in Vineyard, Utah, that specializes in skin and hair care (including scalp care), body care, oral care, and lip care.

While Kasteler isn’t getting many requests for scalp care formulations for customers yet, he sees potential for real innovation in the category, particularly when brands choose not to replicate what they see in the market but instead differentiate their products with custom formulations.

“Brands,” ​he says, “should be focusing on making their products unique: not just through marketing and packaging, but the actual chemical formulation should do what it says it will and help people with their unique problems. Individualize products for individualized needs–that’s how you grow.

In fact, Kasteler chose to “work with Dynamic Blending because I am able to formulate new things all the time, and I get to work on formulas for specific needs.”

Asked about the familiar and novel inputs that show potential in the scalp care category, Kasteler tells Cosmetics Design Editor Deanna Utroske that “skin-soothing ingredients” ​like “biotin [and] allantoin” ​make good sense as do “soothing extracts like cucumber [and] any ingredients that soothe and cause less irritation or inflammation.”

Though “right now,” ​he says, “most scalp creams are just like regular lotions that have oil, wax and water.”

“Without giving away any proprietary information: there are vitamins and other things that people haven’t really tried adding into scalp products yet. Stimulation additives like caffeine can help soften and condition the skin,” ​he says; and “CBD, CBG, and new cannabinoids are something they should look at.”

Kasteler adds that, “more natural replacements for silicone are coming on the market, and not too many people are looking at that. The reason you’d want that for scalp care is that it forms a nice coating on the skin, which keeps the product from evaporating too fast. It keeps the skin moist without getting sticky or kind of gummy at all.”

And thinking creatively about the market reach for scalp care he notes, “There’s a physical component to scalp irritation. If people are required to wear hats, hairnets, helmets, head coverings or goggles to work, that can exacerbate scalp issues. Head coverings can start the irritation, and then things get worse from there. So a...niche market would be that crowd.”

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