Space for more: Kao seizes opportunity in ‘underdeveloped sector’ with astronaut-approved dry shampoo sheets
Compared to the European markets, the dry shampoo category is “still underdeveloped” in Japan, according to Yuki Sasanami from the Life Care Business division at Kao.
“With the hyper-aged society as well as the increased amount of time consumers are spending outdoors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there ought to be a huge potential for shampoo wipes or dry shampoo sheets,” Sasanami told CosmeticsDesign-Asia.
Capitalising on this demand, Kao launched a new dry shampoo product named Space Shampoo Sheet on April 3.
It was originally developed to address the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) call for new ideas in 2021 to help overcome difficulties faced by astronauts living on the International Space Station (ISS).
One of these challenges include hair-washing, due to the scarcity of water and the need to minimise splashing of shampoo solutions in the zero-gravity environment. Also, only certain shampoos are allowed aboard space vessels because of alcohol restrictions.
“Initially, our focus was on the needs of veteran astronaut Koichi Wakata. We leveraged Kao’s decades of research in cleansing solutions to develop a wipe-off shampoo that can effortlessly remove impurities from the scalp and hair without water, and improve the hygiene and quality of life of astronauts.
“Though the sheets were created with astronaut Wakata in mind, they will also solve hair-washing challenges of people on earth. During the development process, we identified essential issues that would have been otherwise overlooked, such as the needs of people who require nursing care or are hospitalised, of those who enjoy active lifestyles, and in times of disaster,” said Sasanami.
The product was approved by the JAXA in 2021, and used by Wakata during his five-month stay on the ISS from October 2022 to March 2023.
“It really cleaned me up, even without baths or showers. The contoured surface wiped away dirt and deep cleansed when I massaged all the way from the roots up. A quick shampoo invigorated my scalp,” said Wakata.
Convenient and clean
“Unlike conventional dry shampoos, the main benefit of the Space Shampoo Sheet is its ability to hold plenty of alcohol-free cleansing liquid, while its contoured surface refreshes the scalp. The raised bumps are strong enough to get rid of impurities and excess sebum, yet light enough to provide a comfortable massage,” said Sasanami.
Furthermore, the sheet can be used with just one hand. “Slide your fingers into the slit and comb through your hair, with no need for water, towel or hair dryer. It is also infused with the scent of cosmos flowers.”
Each sheet is individually packaged, making it portable to carry around. It is especially convenient for wiping away perspiration and stickiness after indoor or outdoor activities, in situations where there is lack of access to water or a shower facility, or in the middle of a workday.
Currently, the product is retailed in limited quantities exclusively through Kao’s open innovation platform, the FUNTECH Lab&Biz store on e-commerce site Rakuten Ichiba.
“By analysing sales quantities, product reviews and post-sales surveys, we can identify the primary target consumer as we consider the possibility of a full-scale launch. It has yet to be decided whether the product will be sold overseas,” Sasanami shared.