Conditioners performance – what’s valued most?

What performance formulators value the most from a hair conditioning agent: Repairing damaged hair – Ease of combing – Silky feel far ahead other performances

SpecialChem – Oct 1, 2009

Hair Care market is the second biggest market after skin care. Globally it is worth more than 43 billion USD in 2007. The 3 biggest players, P&G, Unilever and L’Oreal, represent more than 60%! The conditioner category weights for 16% close to 7 billion USD.

This month, we wanted to focus on this latter category and more precisely on the performances of Hair conditioning agent that drive the choice of the Cosmetic formulators.

The choice of a conditioning agent highly depends on the hair type you want to target. Each of the three main segments, Ethnic, Caucasian and Asian, has specific hair and therefore specific needs. Where some are difficult to comb and thick, some others are straight and tend to tangle. Hair trauma, like brushing, bleaching or UV exposure, will also have a different impact depending on the nature of the hair. On top of those differences, consumer habits must be taken into consideration while selecting the right conditioning agent.

In order to better understand which performances are valued the most and if we could really notice regional differences or not, we assessed our broad community of Cosmetic formulators by asking: “What performance do you value the most from a hair conditioning agent?” and we are pleased to now share the results with you:


The top 3 performances that Cosmetics formulators value most are: repairing damaged hair and ease of combing and silky feel, respectively at 30, 26 and 21%. On the other end of the scale, with less than 10%, the following 3 performances are not seen as key for formulators when selecting a conditioning agent: shiny appearance, no build up and curl retention.

When we look at the the split of the responses by region more closely, we can observe the following:

One third of the Asian formulators select both silky feel and repair damaged hair as the 2 key performances for a conditioning agent whereas performances like ease of combing or shiny appearance seem less valued in Asia. Not such a big surprise! Many countries in Asia have a cultural habit of keeping their hair long. That means hair exposed to stress for long periods and therefore a strong need for being repaired and protected.

The 2 performances that are greatly valued in the Nafta region are repairing damaged hair and ease of combing. Other performances like silky feel and shiny appearance are respectively ranked at the third and the fourth position. Formulators from this region clearly marked their preferences for concrete performances rather than pure feeling attributes. One explanation is that ethnic hair care is very popular in Nafta and it is well known that one of their characteristics is their difficulty to comb.

Europe, like Nafta, ranked number one in repairing damaged hair with ease of combing in the second place. Silky feel appeared as the third performance leaving those like shiny or curl retention to be of less importance.

In conclusion, it is interesting to notice that whatever the region, the 3 key performances of a conditioning agent valued by the formulators are the same with only an order change.

This means that for ingredient suppliers, a conditioning agent with these 3 performances highlighted in regional formulations maybe a smart approach to have worldwide success!

However, for both marketers and formulators of Hair care products it is not that simple. Taking into account the different hair type, the different habits and the different culture, the choice of the right conditioning agent with the right performances in the right formulation will be a daily challenge. This is why support from their suppliers is more than welcome!


Vice President, Cosmetics & Personal Care

Leave a Reply