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Reimagine hair styling with plant-based ingredients

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Consumer interest in sustainability keeps growing in the beauty and personal care industry, with ethical claims and natural, plant-based ingredients playing a larger role in hair styling product launches.1​  

As revealed in Ingredion's proprietary consumer research survey in 11 different markets, these and related factors are impacting how we formulate to meet today's consumer needs. There's the strong and growing need for transparency, with 60% of survey participants reading ingredient labels specifically for hair styling products.2​ On these labels, consumers identified "natural," efficacy and recognizable ingredients as the top three claims that impact their purchasing decisions — reinforcing the idea that even as they are drawn to plant-based and simple ingredients, consumers expect those formulations to also deliver effective performance.

In hair styling applications, meeting this need for efficacy and natural ingredients is important — especially in products that can achieve soft, long-lasting curls without synthetic film-forming ingredients.

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Figure 1. Top three factors that impact your purchase decisions when selecting your current hair care products. Base Size: n=2905

Breaking away from synthetics for natural beauty

By helping to coat the hair, film-forming polymers are a workhorse ingredient for hair styling products. Hair fixative polymers, like PVP and VP/VA copolymer, have traditionally been used as film-formers to provide hold and manageability. However, growing concerns over these types of synthetic ingredients in hair care products have increased the consumer demand for more natural formulations.3​ 

In addition, these synthetic-powered styling products have long been associated with a clear gel that creates a spiky finished look with crunchy hold. But today's styling formats have changed, and so have consumer hairstyles. More consumers are embracing their natural hair type — and understand there is no one-size-fits-all type of product. This trend calls for more diversity in the choice of products on the market to match different hair types, including products that encourage a more flexible, softer hold for natural-looking curls.

Plant-based alternatives to synthetics are amply delivering this kind of performance, as seen in the increase in clean label and "natural" claims for recently launched styling products that are based on functional plant-based ingredients.1  

Long-lasting curls with a natural, plant-based touch

As brands continue to compete for market share, "long-lasting" is one of the leading claims for hair styling product launches across most regions in 2019.4​ Long-lasting performance translates to a longer hold that can be associated with curl retention in high humidity. One way of measuring this is curl retention percentage, which is defined as the ability of the hair to retain its curl structure after a given number of hours.

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Ingredion can help create innovative hair styling products with a natural touch by offering a variety of easy-to-use, plant-based polymers that offer conditioning and film-forming properties. Our PENCARE® DP 1015 cationic polymer (INCI: Starch Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride) provides high curl retention performance in 90% relative humidity with conditioning benefits for a soft, polished look.

As more interest is growing for plant-based film-formers, our FARMAL® Konjac 1310 (INCI: Glucomannan) provides effective, reworkable hold for styles that can last throughout the day. This cold water soluble, easy-to-hydrate powder is derived from the tubers of the konjac plant, and offers conditioning, thickening and enhanced curl retention performance to achieve a “no-crunch” and “frizz-free” style.  

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Figure 2. FARMAL® Konjac 1310 at various concentrations in solution

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Figure 3. Curl retention data

Both FARMAL® Konjac 1310 and PENCARE® DP 1015 provides excellent curl retention hold in 80% and 90% relative humidity conditions for 24 hours. As shown in the pictures below, the curls for both plant-based polymers show an intact curl after 24 hours in high-humidity environment. Testing was performed with a 2% solution of the plant-based polymers. When breaking the curls after 24 hours, testing found the curls to be soft and flake-free which allows formulators to achieve a soft-hold formula helping to manage natural-looking curls.

Konjac Hair Test 2
Pencare Hair Test 2

Moving to plant-based beauty and personal care

With plant-based polymers, your products can support soft, modern curls with fine-tuned texture and curl retention, by incorporating varying levels of polymers into formulations. Depending on the level of hold, the usage levels of the polymers can be adjusted and/or combined to create the look desired by consumers. According to Innova, in addition to the popularity of "long-lasting" claims, recent product launches of gels, mousses and creams are shining a spotlight on "curl-enhancing" claims.4

Like with different hair types, there is diversity in curls with a wide range of textures that may require different solutions. Similar to traditional synthetics, naturally derived ingredients must also be studied analytically for their properties, functionality, safety and stability in finished formulations.

With hair styling trends changing, manufacturers and formulators need to move beyond the traditional polymers and explore other plant-based ingredients to deliver unique benefits. And as styles change, the performance demand increases — causing consumers to expect better and long-lasting hold in addition to natural ingredients from their hair care solutions. For more information, connect with our team of beauty experts and visit www.ingredion.us/beauty​.

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Resources:

  1. Innova Market Insights CI, Hair Styling in the U.S., 2020
  2. Ingredion Proprietary Consumer Research for Beauty and Personal Care, 2018
  3. Innova Market Insights CR, Hair Care, Feb 2020
  4. Innova Market Insights CR, Styling Subcategory Report H2, 2019