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In 2020, as Covid took hold and fear spread, hair was a frequent topic of conversation: There was an increase in hair loss, spurred by both Covid itself and the stress of the pandemic, even for those who didn’t get sick. Then, of course, there were salon closures, which left people itching for the underappreciated luxury of an expert cut, color or style. Now, enthusiasm for higher-end hair care is apparent: According to NPD research on prestige beauty sales in the U.S. in the third quarter of 2021, prestige hair care grew 36% year-over-year.
In keeping with this trend, October saw not one but two luxury skin-care brands expand into the hair category: Dr. Barbara Sturm launched a full collection, expanding upon an existing scalp serum, and Augustinus Bader entered the category for the first time. Even before Covid, the growth of products made for the scalp by skin-care leaders was on the rise. Drunk Elephant and Sunday Riley, for example, launched scalp exfoliants using ingredients typically associated with facial hair care. Think: alpha-hydroxy acids.
“I’ve always thought that the scalp is an extension of our face and skin,” said Dr. Barbara Sturm, founder of her namesake brand. It is skin that needs a lot of attention, as it gets bombarded with stressors such as pollution, sun, hair dye, styling and blow-drying. It’s just as important to balance the microbiome and the skin barrier on the scalp as it is on our faces.” On October 28, Dr. Barbara Sturm launched three shampoos, a conditioner, a hair mask and four serums, with prices ranging from $60-$100. They’re currently available on Dr. Sturm’s e-commerce site, and they’re set to expand to other retailers in 2022.
For its part, Augustinus Bader does not see itself as transitioning from one beauty category to another. “We believe we aren’t a skin-care company moving into hair care, but [rather as a tech platform moving from skin to hair,” said Charles Rosier, CEO and co-founder of the brand. “Hair care was the natural next step for our brand. When you know how to create an optimal cellular environment for the natural processes of skin repair, the same discipline can be applied to the hair follicle, scalp and hair itself.”
The brand launched a shampoo, a conditioner, a hair oil, a scalp serum and a leave-in treatment on October 26, with prices ranging from $55-$80. They’re available on the brand’s e-commerce site, as well as at retailers including Nordstrom and Violet Grey. According to Rosier, the decision to keep the collection tightly edited was a conscious one: ”We genuinely believe the world doesn’t need more products, and so we want to ensure that our products rank No. 1 in each category. Our voice will remain consistent, no matter what we launch, and that’s all about science and quality.”
Both Dr. Barbara Sturm and Augustinus Bader offer their hair-care products at much more affordable price points than their skin-care products — though they still sit comfortably in the prestige category. For comparison, Dr. Barbara Sturm’s famous Hyaluronic Serum is $300, while Augustinus Bader’s iconic moisturizer, “The Rich Cream,” is $265. For fans of the brands, or simply those looking to infuse their beauty routine with a touch of luxury, the lower-priced products provide a good entry point.
So what, besides a higher price point, actually differentiates these products? Both brands point to their ingredients. “No product gets released if it’s not the very best,” Dr. Sturm said. “[Rather than] sticking with the usual approach of creating products labeled for hair types, [I focused on] specific concerns that I knew my patients and customers were facing.” For example, the collection includes Balancing products for an itchy, flaky or red scalp; and Anti-Hair Fall products for targeting hair loss. It also includes the Super Anti-Aging collection, said to addess dry, damaged, colored or chemically treated hair. The Hydrating Conditioner and Repair Hair Mask both feature cationic hyaluronic acid, which Sturm said “adheres to the hair follicle and shaft to provide deep and intensive conditioning benefits.”
Meanwhile, Augustinus Bader harnessed its signature TFC8® technology. “It’s now formulated in our system to support root-to-tip revitalization, for hair that feels and looks healthy, hydrated and strong. We know that the root of the hair is made up of protein cells and is nourished by blood from nearby blood vessels — therefore, it is essential to feed the hair properly.” Rosier said.
“We translated our understanding of the skin to make targeted and personalized use of the cellular microenvironmental repair of the hair follicle and scalp,” said Professor Augustinus Bader, co-founder of the brand. “The formulas represent a hair-care intelligence that’s custom-built to fit each and every user. The ability to optimize the hair micro-environment at the cellular level represents the future of personalization in hair care.”