A hijab is a headscarf worn in public by some Muslim women. Despite not being on display most of the day, the hair beneath the scarf has unique needs.
“One of the main concerns for women who wear hijabs is keeping their hair feeling fresh. Since they may wear a hijab for many hours at a time, they can experience oily hair and scalp as well as dandruff because of the excessive sebum produced,” said Cedric Toh, regional marketing manager (Southeast Asia, Australia & New Zealand) Dow Personal Care.
“This is a major concern in places with high humidity, like Indonesia… Often women will cut their hair very short just to feel more comfortable and avoid these issues.”
As the halal beauty space has developed in the past few years, more cosmetic companies have developed products suited to the needs and concerns of Muslim consumers.
In the past few years, we’ve seen companies like Unilever Indonesia and Safi develop specifically for Muslim women who wear hijabs.
Such products focused on targeting the main hair concerns such as anti-dandruff, oily scalp and retaining the feeling of freshness.
“These shampoos and conditioners often advertise benefits such as naturality, fragrance-retention, and anti-dandruff. Conditioners are formulated to be lighter so that hair does not feel heavy under the hijab and other hair care products are formulated with freshness in mind to provide a cooling sensation for the scalp,” said Toh
However, a huge gap in the market still remains for products beyond shampoo and conditioner.
“There have been many products introduced by global and local brands in the past few years targeting women who wear hijabs… However, post-wash and leave-on hair products for women with hijabs, along with products with quick drying benefits, are not as common in the market and are often overlooked,” said Toh.
As more young Muslim women adopt the practice of wearing a hijab, Toh said more companies should ‘absolutely’ pay attention to this specific segment.
He added that the biggest opportunity lies in “recognising the unmet needs” of the younger generation of consumers.
“Brands can appeal to the younger demographic with affordable, high-performance, sustainable, and ethical Hijabi hair care,” said Toh.
Additionally, the company has observed that more innovation is needed for the SEA region, where the tropical climate is especially challenging for hijab-wearing women.
“[Muslim SEA consumers’] hair is subjected to different conditions from [non-hijab-wearing] consumers, especially given the tropical climate. Providing more product variations that have reliable research to back claims should be a big focus,” said Toh.
Unsurprisingly, brands can also highlight natural and organic ingredients. According to Mintel, if given a choice, 34% of Indonesian consumers reported that they would opt for natural or organic versions.
“Within this emerging space, we can see that some of the FMCG market leaders are launching new products positioned toward this market with ingredients like habbatus sauda or black seed – olive and honey,” said Toh.