Spreading Clean Beauty

How to increase the anagen phase of hair to address hair loss worries

Hair loss is a common male grooming concern. This contributes to the prominence of products with anti-aging messaging, including anti-gray and anti-hair loss claims. Products like caffeine shampoos that claim to reduce hair loss are common, but there’s still room for growth in the market. Ultimately, this is because men want hair care supported by science; they want to see claims that target the biological causes of hair loss. Therefore, brands need to consider how to increase the anagen phase of hair through targeted treatments.

However, this isn’t to suggest that hair loss is a concern only for older male consumers. Younger men want to maintain their hair’s health and thickness, and equally, women are worried about hair loss. In Spain, 32% of women say that the benefit they find most appealing in a hair care product is that it promotes growth (Mintel, 2020). In light of this, brands need to create formulas that respond to diverse hair loss concerns, with added benefits.

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The biology of the hair loss process

The roots of our hair, or the follicles, go through a three-stage life cycle. This begins with a stage of rapid growth and hair shaft formation, known as the anagen phase. This is followed by a regression characterized by apoptosis or ‘cell death’. Finally, the follicle ‘rests’ in the telogen stage, before the process starts again. Generally, the percentage of follicles in the telogen phase ranges from 5 to 15%. An increase in this percentage leads to excessive hair loss or the appearance of thinning hair (Paus & Cotsarelis, 1999).

Hair thinning and permanent loss is caused by follicle miniaturization. This is when follicles that once produced healthy hair during their anagen phase begin to produce weaker, thinner strands. This process disrupts the growth cycle, making hair appear sparse. Ultimately, this can lead to fragile short strands and constricted follicles, which leads to permanent hair loss.

Meeting diverse hair loss concerns

As inferred by this brief description of the hair life cycle, the question of how to increase the anagen phase of hair is a key concern for a wide range of consumers. For women, reducing the percentage of hairs in the telogen phase makes hair appear thicker and more luscious. Equally, a stimulated anagen phase can lead to greater hair growth. For men concerned about male pattern baldness, maintaining and stimulating the anagen phase is key to delaying or preventing hair loss. 

There’s also a growing awareness around scalp health, as the scalp is seen more as an extension of facial skin. In the Korean market, elaborate skin care routines are extending to the scalp, with 15% of new hair care products in Korea featuring an anti-hair loss or scalp care claim – triple that of three years ago (Mintel, 2020). As scalp health is a concern for both men and women, such claims have far-reaching potential. 

Clearly, with a scientific as opposed to age- or gender-oriented approach, brands can develop adaptable formulas. Creating products with more universal appeal can respond to consumer demands from multiple angles: right now, 64% of Generation Z consumers do not think that beauty or grooming products should be classified by gender (Lightspeed/Mintel, 2020). 

Equally, added benefits like mood-boosting or de-stressing claims are attractive, especially in the context of a self-esteem related issue like hair loss. Currently, 46% of Chinese consumers say they are willing to pay more for products that contain ingredients that can help them to relax or sleep. Alongside the central question of how to increase the anagen phase of hair, relaxing or anti-stress scents are a key opportunity (Lightspeed/Mintel, 2020). 

Provital’s research into how to increase the anagen phase of hair

Researchers at Provital asked themselves how to increase the anagen phase of hair. Now, there are several ingredients in Provital’s portfolio that help hair growth by supporting anagen phase. One example is Baicapil™. This active ingredient has the ability to extend the anagen period and shorten the telogen period, by improving the condition of the follicle cells and their microenvironment. A healthy scalp is essential to healthy hair, and with calming, soothing botanicals, this active nourishes the scalp’s delicate skin. 

These powerful botanicals are Scutellaria baicalensis, Triticum vulgare, and Glycine max sprouts. These ingredients increase cellular energy and activate follicle stem cells while protecting them from senescence, or cell deterioration. This way, it visibly fights hair loss by improving the ratio of hairs in the anagen phase compared to the telogen phase, thus making hair appear fuller, thicker, and stronger.

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