The effects of pollution on hair are emerging as a growing concern among Brazilian women, which is creating opportunities for the beauty industry. Director of Global Insight & Innovation, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel, Vivienne Rudd says 37% of Brazilian consumers believe pollution has a big impact on hair appearance.
“There is potential to expand significantly the number of products that promise to clear away pollutants, form a shield against future exposure and repair any residual damage,” says Rudd on the Brazilian hair care scene. “Brazilians are justly celebrated for their obsession with hair care, making it the second largest beauty category in value terms after fragrances.”
A 2016 report from the World Health Organization stated that 92% of the global population is affected by excessive air pollution. Besides the obvious damage to the respiratory tract, air pollution is also associated to skin problems such as premature skin aging, skin pigmentation and increased skin sensitivity, says London-based market research firm Organic Monitor.
Despite the worry, anti-pollution beauty products currently account for just 1% of global launches, according to Mintel. However, the number of new anti-pollution ingredients queuing to hit the market indicates that a resurgence of launches is only a matter of time. “There is also room for more education around this issue with advertising campaigns that show the damaging effects of pollution on hair and skin,” says Rudd.
Data from Organic Monitor suggests that the range of natural ingredients with anti-pollution properties is growing. Green tea, artichoke, açaí and moringa have been shown to have antioxidant activity to protect skin cells. Charcoal, on the other hand, is an up-and-coming favorite for hair care products. “It cleanses toxins, adds volume and remedies scalp-related issues”, adds Rudd.
She says brands can position products containing charcoal as a way to clean away pollutants and detoxify the hair and scalp, raising interest in the anti-pollution claim. Charcoal can be used in anti-pollution shampoos to cleanse hair, and leave-in conditioners and styling products to form a barrier against pollution.
German conglomerate BASF has put its chips on moringa oleifera seeds, which are rich in cationic proteins, for the development of Puricare. “The ingredient has high affinity for hair proteins and creates a protective barrier around the hair shaft. This significantly reduces adhesion of pollution particles, such as soot, and effectively protects the hair from their harmful effects”, says Flávia Zenall, marketing manager for BASF’s skin care and sun care division in South America.
She says Puricare not only shields the hair against pollution, but also prevents odors and other impurities to penetrate the shafts, which helps keep hair feeling cleaner for longer. The active ingredient can be used in shampoos, conditioners, and leave-on formulations and is readily available in Brazil.
Rudd says pollution will gradually join UV in consumers’ minds as environmental aggressors. “Brands will have to make anti-pollution claims a standard element of their skin and hair care products in the future.” She claims that scientists are already working hard on solutions and refers to a quote by Professor Jean Krutmann, director of the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine: "UV was really the topic in skin protection for the last 20 to 30 years. Now I think air pollution has the potential to keep us busy for the next few decades."