Japan’s hair care trends: Kao taps into demand for anti-ageing conditioners and more mild shampoos

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Kao’s chemical division has created two new hair care solutions, which it believes taps into two of the most pressing demands from Japanese consumers. ©GettyImages
Kao’s chemical division has created two new hair care solutions, which it believes taps into two of the most pressing demands from Japanese consumers. ©GettyImages
Kao’s chemical division has created two new hair care solutions, which it believes taps into two of the most pressing demands from Japanese consumers – namely products with anti-ageing benefits and more mild properties.

Moe Yoshizawa, chemical business global, pharmaceuticals and toiletries, Kao Corporation, told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that its clients are increasingly asking for ingredients that can fulfil the demands of the anti-ageing hair care market.

Quartamin E-80K launched 10 years ago as a replacement for behentrimonium chloride (BTAC) but Kao’s new research shows that it is an effective ingredient for anti-ageing hair conditioner.

Yoshizawa explained that creating an anti-ageing hair conditioner could be complicated. “To make this hair conditioner, volume and smoothness is both needed, but it’s hard to fulfil both criteria because, for example, if you have smoothness, there is less volume.”

Through a series of tests, the company found that Quartamin E-80K was superior to BTAC. Aside from giving hair a smooth texture, it is able to improve hair volume and hair bounce up to 25% and 20% respectively.

Yoshizawa said that the ageing care market was growing due to its rapidly ageing population.

“As the population ages, the retirement age also goes up. But because they are working for longer, these people still need to maintain their appearance. Therefore, segments like anti-ageing hair care are growing.”

According to Yoshizawa, each Japanese cosmetic company has at least one brand targeted at older consumers. Kao’s consumer division for example, manufactures Segreta, which also utilises Quartamin E-80K.

Hiroyuki Kawai, senior manager, pharmaceuticals and toiletries, Kao Corporation, added that the approach to ageing was changing in Japan.

“It used to be common for ageing ladies to dye their hair but today they don’t want to hide the grey hairs. Instead, they think it’s good to age well.”

Best of both worlds

While anti-ageing hair care products are becoming more popular, gentle and mild shampoos are the biggest trend in Japan, said Yoshizawa.

She believes this trend is driven by the consumer’s desire for more transparency.

“Before, consumers used to trust companies immediately. But now, they are looking into ingredients with the help of the Internet. Consumers now really care about what’s inside the product, so manufacturers are focusing on making mild-concept products.”

Most mild shampoos in the market use amino acid-based surfactants. However, they were not as effective in cleansing the hair and scalp.

However, Kawai added that amino acid-based shampoos were popular in Japan.

“Japanese consumers believe a material that can be eaten is also good for the skin, which is why amino acids have such a good image in Japan.”

In order to create a gentle formula that is effective in cleansing, Kao has come up with a ‘hybrid’ amino acid-base shampoo by adding Kao Akypo RLM-45NV, an anionic surfactant with low irritation to eyes and skin.

“The performance of Kao Akypo is good but image-wise, not as good as amino acid-based surfactants,” ​said Kawai.

In order to test the irritancy of the hybrid formula, Kao designed a test using an insoluble corn-derived protein.

“This test is quite unique because of the zein, which is not soluble in water,” ​said Yoshizawa. ”If it dissolves, it means the irritancy is high.”

The tests found that Kao Akypo RLM-45NV, adds detergency and reduces irritancy even more,

“When used with amino acid-based surfactants, it protects the scalp and hair. It also washes them with higher detergency. The combined application makes it possible to prevent scalp trouble,” ​said Yoshizawa.

She added: “We are suggesting more applications for this. Not just mild shampoo but also scalp care shampoo, baby shampoo and even colour-care shampoos”

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