The COVID-19 crisis ushered in a whole new paradigm for self-care. Confined to our houses and denied our usual pampering rituals, consumers had to rethink how to take care. One particular symptom was the lack of hair cuts, with dry, frazzled ‘COVID hair’ becoming a common expression to describe unkempt locks. As the crisis continues, consumers all need a little TLC – and the softness of cotton bloom may be the answer. But before introducing the ingredient, we’ll set the scene.
The COVID-19 era has driven the demand for at-home salon-quality haircare. As the physical and emotional demands of the lockdowns took their toll, consumers were looking for ways to relax. For instance, in the United States, 59% of 18-34-year-old women said that mental well-being has become a higher priority since the pandemic (Mintel, 2020). As the tendency to stay at home becomes the ‘new normal’ this demand for de-stressing home treatments is set to rise. But what particular formulations will stand out?
Combatting ‘COVID hair’ with rich conditioning
The parched split ends of so-called COVID hair are symptomatic of the lifestyle changes that consumers have had to endure over the past year. This suggests that one of the top global concerns for haircare in the coming months will be the need for good conditioning products. This is for a variety of reasons; right now, Mintel reports that 57% of consumers are worried about aging hair. Others are worried about damaged or dry hair (54%) and a large proportion are concerned about difficult-to-manage hair (41%).
These are, of course, all complaints related to a lack of hydration. Notions of hydration and nutrition are taking on increasing significance in the wake of the pandemic, as feeding the body and soul has a tacit connection to self-care. Hair, in particular, is undergoing ‘skinification’ – that is, consumers understand that the hair is as much of a delicate organ as the skin, for which hydration is an essential requirement. This is reflected in consumer habits; according to the same research, 30% of female consumers are using an at-home deep conditioning treatment weekly.
However, the other dimension to consumer demands during the pandemic is the preference for natural, sustainable products. Care and nature are becoming synonymous, as consumers seek to retreat from the seemingly endless Zoom call and take some time to heal. This is also the case on a global scale; many consumers perceive the pandemic as a symptom of our lack of care for the environment. According to a survey by Accenture, 60% of consumers said that they “have dramatically evolved” their buying habits to select more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or ethical products since the start of the pandemic.
Soft, natural nourishment with cotton bloom
These demands – deep conditioning, caring, and natural – are what make cotton bloom such a compelling proposition for the haircare market. Cotton, by nature, has an association with softness and simplicity, sending a clear clean beauty message to the consumer. Provital’s Cotton Extract is made from sustainably sourced cotton, responding to consumer demand for products that are gentle on the hair and the environment.
The ingredient also has powerful conditioning properties. This is achieved via low and high molecular weight proteins. Low molecular weight proteins have the capacity to penetrate into the capillary fiber’s cortex, making them ideal to repair, strengthen and protect capillary fibers from within. Meanwhile, high molecular weight proteins, due to their capacity to form a film on the hair surface, protect and soften.
With this intense conditioning action and all-natural gentleness, brands should consider highlighting cotton bloom as a hero ingredient. As the pandemic is set to continue to affect consumers purchasing patterns for good, the associations meet their demands head-on.