The Comeback of Natural Ingredient Relaxers and Its Effect on Beauty Retailers and Salons
Decrease or Increase in Relaxer Sales?
The natural hair movement has freed many black women from years of chemical and heat abuse and has changed their consumption pattern in the hair product category. Instead of getting their hair straightened with relaxers, women who embrace their natural hair buy more hair styling products to define curls. Subsequently, relaxers, which used to be the number one seller at beauty supply stores, stepped down to the second largest in hair product sales. According to the Mintel’s 2015 report, the sales of relaxers dropped 18.6% between 2013 and 2015, whereas the sales of hair styling products increased exponentially by 26.8%. Mintel anticipates relaxers will lose second place soon. However, beauty retailers told a different story; they see a slight increase in the relaxer sales. It’s apparent that overall relaxer sales decreased but more customers come to stores to get natural relaxers.
Emily Hyun, Vice President of Ben’s Beauty, a multi-cultural beauty supply distributor, also confirmed the sales increase in relaxers. Hyun said, “The relaxer sales definitely dropped for the past few years, but chemical companies have improved relaxers by adding natural ingredients. They also changed the packaging and reduced harsh chemicals to change the negative image of relaxers. As a result, the sales of relaxers picked up lately.” To satisfy more health conscious consumers, chemical companies have released newly developed relaxers that contain natural ingredients, and those natural relaxers improved the overall relaxer sales. Then why is Mintel’s report different from what beauty retailers reportedly currently experience? Mintel released this report based on the sales data from big grocery chains and drugstores but missed important sales data from beauty supply stores. Mintel admits in its report that the data from beauty supply stores is missing and the final result might not be accurate for this reason. Without data from beauty supply stores, Mintel’s forecast on relaxers cannot be 100% accurate.
Relaxer Effect and Opportunities
Relaxers have been loved for straightening hair and convenience; women with relaxed hair can shampoo freely and need less time to style their hair. The downside of relaxers is that regular use of relaxers damages hair and a long period of resting time in-between relaxers is needed. Hair extensions are a great alternative to relaxers in the resting period. For consumers who are accustomed to relaxed hair, it’s not easy to grow natural hair in their resting period so they choose to use human hair extensions. If customers, who sought big chain stores for chemicals and online for human hair extensions, come back to beauty supply stores for natural relaxers, it will be a good opportunity for stores to recommend quality brand weaving hair. If beauty supply stores wisely use this correlation between relaxers and hair extensions, the sales for both items will be boosted.
The change in the relaxer market brought a new opportunity to salons as well. Vegan and natural ingredients in relaxers help women embrace relaxed, straight hair again, and this change is definitely a plus for salons because many natural, high quality hair-straightening products are available on
ly at certified salons. For example Zerran Reform 2.0, a 100% vegan retexturizing system, requires high heat to straighten hair, and only certified stylists can perform this service. With the rise of natural relaxers and texturizers, some argue that harmful chemicals are still used in them. Though it is true that natural relaxers and texturizers contain chemicals, frequent use of heating tools such as flat irons might damage hair more. Even braids, an option for people who choose to keep their hair natural, can cause traction alopecia by pulling hair strands excessively. With gentler vegetable based relaxers and better consumer education, relaxers may be a healthier choice.