Spreading Clean Beauty

Supporting hair density: Why inclusive solutions are a key opportunity

Let’s start by explaining some things first. Hair density is the number of individual hair strands per square centimeter on your scalp. The average person has around 300 hairs per square centimeter on their head. We typically shed between 50 and 100 hairs per day, as a part of the hair’s normal lifecycle. This cycle involves three distinct phases called anagen, catagen, and telogen.

During each hair strand’s anagen phase, it grows around one centimeter a month and this rate is faster in the summer than in winter. This phase lasts an average of three to five years, but can last anywhere between two and eight years, and occasionally much longer. The length of this phase is genetically determined; for example, the anagen phase is generally longer in people of Asian descent.

After the anagen phase, each hair enters the catagen phase, which signals the end of the active growth of a hair. This phase lasts roughly between ten days and three weeks, cutting the hair off from its blood supply and from the cells that produce new hair.

Finally, hair enters the telogen phase. This is a resting phase when strands are released and fall out. When the hair falls out, the follicle remains inactive for three months and then the process is repeated, beginning with anagen phase.

Preventing hair loss to assure good hair density

When our body is under stress, as much as 70% of hair can prematurely enter the telogen phase and begin to fall out, causing noticeable hair loss. We can, of course, prevent this. Not just by avoiding unnecessary stress, but also by taking proper care of our hair and supporting hair density. Unsurprisingly, the most popular methods are natural:

  • Maintaining a balanced diet, which should include foods with antioxidant properties, like green tea. Proteins are also important since hair follicles are made mostly of a protein called keratin. Good choices are foods like eggs, nuts, beans, fish, and chicken. Also important is vitamin A, which has been shown to increase the rate of hair growth and may also help with sebum production. Sweet potatoes and spinach are a good source of vitamin A. Useful supplements include vitamins B, C, D, iron, selenium, and zinc. Staying hydrated is good for the entire body, not just the hair.
  • Washing hair regularly protects against hair loss by keeping the scalp clean and healthy, but only if a mild shampoo is used, as harsher formulas may damage hair and cause it to break. Massaging the head with coconut oil, olive oil, and aloe vera has many benefits, as it can protect hair from dryness and prevent damage caused by grooming, heat styling, and ultraviolet light exposure.
  • Using only high-quality combs and brushes is recommended, as well as avoiding hot tools such as blow dryers and straightening irons. Also, just gently squeezing out the water when the hair is wet is much better than rubbing it roughly with a towel.

Genetic factors that impact hair strength and density

As stated before, hair density is a simple characteristic, but it’s governed by a number of complex mechanisms that work somewhat differently across the spectrum of human ethnic diversity. Simply put, your hair density will, in part, be determined by your race. For example, hair density in people of African origin is significantly lower than that in Caucasians (Sperling LC, Hair Density in African Americans, Arch Dermatol 1999). This is due to slower hair growth (Loussouarn G et al., Diversity of hair growth profiles, Int J Dermatol 2005), as well as the fact that curly hair is more fragile than straight hair (Porter CE et al., The influence of African-American hair’s curl pattern on its mechanical properties, Int J Dermatol 2005). Conversely, hair of people of Asian descent also has a low density but it grows very fast and is not very fragile due to it being straight.

Inclusive beauty is an opportunity

A huge influx of information online and on social media has educated consumers, making them informed like never before. They believe they know their skin, hair and body best, and rightly so. They also know that everyone is different and they want their individual needs to be answered with options or customizable beauty.

As this kind of consumer behavior is becoming the norm, brands are starting to understand that catering to the individual needs of the educated and informed consumer opens an unprecedented opportunity.

Going back to ethnic differences, some studies have shown that consumers of African origin prefer hair products made for their specific hair issues, texture, and styling choices, so haircare companies are vying for favor among black consumers. As such, the black haircare industry is a multibillion-dollar business that demands specific solutions.

But, of course, consumers of African descent are just one of the ethnic groups, and every group has their own and sometimes quite different attitudes, beauty standards, and motivations behind their style and product choices.

For example, the Muslim population is going to grow significantly faster than the world’s total population, and yet, this market remains very under-served. In line with this example, smart and quick-to-react, inclusive brands can gain traction globally by highlighting suitability for Muslims as demand for halal-certified products grows in line with the growth of the Muslim middle class.

But ethnicity is not the only way brands can grow through inclusivity – Mintel’s 2018 Global BPC Trend “My Beauty, My Rules” highlights that men want more options to be created especially for them. Brands should therefore strive to meet this demand by offering customised versions of frequently used products, as well as emphasise their functionality through ingredients or packaging.

Therein lies the true opportunity – inclusivity is becoming an important factor in increasing sales of beauty products. Smart brands are expanding their offer to provide options and products not just for consumers of African descent, but for individuals of every ethnicity or other group, and their unique beauty needs.

Innovation is the solution 

Baicapil™ combines three plants – soy sprouts, Scutellaria baicalensis, and wheat sprouts – into an active that increases hair density and reduces hair loss by 61%, stimulating hair growth and improving its overall condition. It increases cellular energy, protects follicle fibroblasts from oxidative stress, and improves the anagen/telogen ratio by activating telogen hair follicles sooner and extending anagen phase for an average of 38000 new hairs.

Considering the various demands and diversity of consumers, technology like Baicapil presents a significant opportunity for brands looking to extend their influence to every segment. By developing inclusive beauty products that nourish, care, and thicken the hair, the cosmetics industry can create effective products that highlight the need (and indeed demand) for inclusive beauty.

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