Hair care in the 1990s sounds like head salad. With an herbal garden of additives, along with a wide array of vitamins, being tossed into shampoos, conditioners and even styling aids, "hair dressing" takes on new meaning. However, today's consumer has a strong taste for sorting out what works and what doesn't, compared to the consumer who bought shampoos containing everything from blueberries to eggs in the early '70s. With product ingredients at the forefront of consumer discussions, using pixie-dust amounts of botanicals for marketing purposes is coming under increasing attack. By the millennium, natural-stance marketers will have to serve up substantiation for claims, or they won't be invited to the financial feast.
On the scientific side, many additives for shampoos and conditioners presume the hair and scalp have the requirements -- and reactions -- of skin. Ceramides, alpha hydroxy acids, collagen, antioxidants, Vitamin C and liposomes are just a few of the traditional skin-care ingredients being added to hair care products. In skin care, these ingredients remain on living tissue for hours; their uses in a wash-out product for dead fiber are bound to come under consumer scrutiny quickly.
Trends aside, legislation is the biggest influence on hair care additives, forcing reformulation of hair sprays not once, but twice. The biggest question of the year: which resins and systems will work in hair sprays that by 1998 must contain just 55 percent VOCs? (California will decide in the beginning of 1996 whether or not to extend the deadline; most say it's unlikely.
THE 55 PERCENT SOLUTION
"Fifty-five percent is a real challenge," says Ronald M. DiSalvo, director of research and product development for John Paul Mitchell Systems (JPMS). "No one, as yet, has a resin system with the hold quality we want to see."
Adds Dr. Uma Tripathi, vice-president of R & D for Playtex, "All the current ingredients in hair spray work with a non-aqueous system. With the lowering of VOCs, you have to add water, which replaces the alcohol, to the old ingredients. The product must be re-invented or the performance will suffer. It's much like when pollution control was imposed on automobiles in the '70s. The old engine didn't work well with the new gadgets. When the Japanese redesigned the entire engine, then it worked. Now, regulations are driving the hair-care industry and it will respond by developing a totally new system."
At National Starch and Chemical Co., personal care business manager Barry Lothian says that in endeavoring to give marketers what legislation will demand, the company is developing various 55 percent solutions. However, he believes it will be difficult to achieve performance equal to that of existing 80 percent VOC products.
"Products with 80 percent …