Untangle complex haircare demands with responsible innovation

Haircare is set to enter an age of more responsible product development as the category responds to evolving consumer preferences and regulatory demands, according to Sagentia Innovation.

Scientists and consumer product experts at the R&D consultancy point to the increasingly important role sustainability, inclusivity and brand trust play in purchase decisions. Coupled with the need to meet net zero targets, reduce consumption and minimise environmental harm this creates a complex set of challenges and opportunities for haircare.

Some of the most difficult areas for haircare manufacturers to innovate around relate to product formulation. Many shampoo, conditioner and hair dye products contain chemical ingredients which perform an important function, such as PDD (p-Phenylenediamine) in traditional hair dyes, or silicones in shampoos, conditioners and styling products. However, they may have an adverse impact on human health or the environment and consumer demand for safer and more natural ingredients is therefore on the rise. Consumer use of haircare products poses further challenges related to water use and the carbon emissions associated with heating water.

Issues like these span the entire haircare product lifecycle and addressing them is not straightforward. Any developments need to be balanced with additional critical factors such as the consumer experience and commercial viability.

To help manufacturers navigate this complexity and create products that are both desirable and accountable, the consultancy has published guidance on responsible consumer innovation. It outlines how societal and sustainability criteria can become integral to all consumer product innovation, not just for niche ethical brands.

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