K18, which combines beauty and biotechnology, was founded in 2020 by Suveen Sahib and Britta Cox.
The brand has a curated range of six products designed to identify and address the causes of hair damage. It's a professional and consumer brand that's distributed through hair salons, retail, and ecommerce mainly in the UK, North America and Australia.
Its marketing strategy primarily uses social media to educate consumers about the science of hair.
Co-founder and CEO of K18 Suveen Sahib said of the thought process behind the brand: “Nature is the best designer, and we’ve found that by understanding the biology of hair you can achieve true hair health and hair expression with less product, less time, and less frustration.”
K18's first novel molecule – K18Peptide™ – mimics the human keratin structure and claims to reverse chemical damage on all hair types in minutes, helping to replace complex hair treatment routines with instant results.
Unilever Prestige CEO, Vasiliki Petrou, said the acquisition: “complements our fast-growing portfolio of premium, culturally relevant consumer brands. What Suveen, Britta and the team have created is a testament to the importance of brands built on unparalleled science, product efficacy and community love.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed and the transaction is expected to close in Q1 2024.
Unilever's new direction
The move comes as part of a wider strategy for Unilever after its CEO Hein Schmacher announced in October that it planned to “selectively optimise its portfolio” amid disappointing financial results.
At this time, it sold the shaving subscription brand Dollar Shave Club and last week it announced that it was also selling its Elida Beauty business, which comprises more than 20 beauty and personal care brands including Q-Tips, Caress, Timotei and Tigi, to Yellow Wood Partners.
Unilever said the Elida Beauty business generated turnover of around €0.8bn in 2022.
President of Unilever Personal Care, Fabian Garcia, said this marked another step towards the “optimisation of its Personal Care portfolio.”
He stated: “Our priority is to step up the growth of our Power Brands by investing behind key strategic focus areas such as driving unmissable brand superiority and scaling multi-year innovations.”