A woman sprays haircare product onto her hair

Trends Analysis: Why Hair Care Is the Next Big Beauty Trend in DTC eCommerce

While the Covid-19 pandemic helped enable the new hair care trend, experts predict it will not be a passing phase. DTC eCommerce brands recognized the growing popularity and have stepped up to meet consumer demands.

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2020 was nothing if not unpredictable. As 2021 began, few could have predicted the astonishing rise of DTC beauty’s hottest new trend: hair care. If 2020 was the year of skin care, 2021 is all about hair care.

While the Covid-19 pandemic helped fuel this new trend, experts predict it will not be a passing phase. Even before Covid, the haircare industry was poised to experience a global surge. The DTC haircare industry is now projected to be worth $94 billion US dollars in 2021. That figure is expected to rise to $105 billion by 2025. 

So, how did the hottest trend in DTC beauty come about? Here are some of the factors that helped make hair care the talk of 2021.

Colorful bottles of haircare products on white shelves

With Salons Shut Down, DIY Hair Care Is the New Normal

In 2020, masks took focus away from the face, so hair took center stage. But then Covid restrictions shuttered salons leaving people to deal with their own split ends and uncolored roots. Not content to live with “Covid hair,” men and women increasingly took personal hair care into their own hands. Since botched jobs were less likely to be seen in public, people became fearless in experimenting with at-home cuts, coloring and styling.

Along the way, they took a deeper interest in learning more about the care and health of their hair and scalp. They also become more attentive to the quality and overall health aspects of the products they bought and used. Inventive amateurs even found natural haircare solutions in their pantries. Rice water to accelerate hair growth. Olive and avocado oils for extra shine and hydration. Who knew?

A blonde woman applies hair color to her own hair.

The Power of Social Media

The billions of people who flocked to social media to learn more about hair care probably knew. YouTube and TikTok influencers and experts offered product recommendations and advice on how to live their best hair lives. Social media also let hair stylists stay connected with clients, show off their work and offer their own insights into hair care.

Social media insights have always been important to the beauty industry. DTC beauty brands rely on social media ad campaigns to target audiences, find influencers and market their products. How important is social media to beauty and haircare brands? Recent statistics show that: 

  • 96% of beauty brands have a social media account
  • 63% of consumers have more trust in brands that have an Instagram account
  • 62% of teenagers use social media to follow their favorite beauty brands

Through constant images and videos, online influencers help build better connections between brands and their customers. Thanks to endorsements from social media influencers, beauty brands have benefited from new DTC trends as much as consumers.

By Meeting Trend Demands, DTC Beauty Brands Are Thriving

DTC eCommerce beauty brands, recognizing the growing popularity of hair care awareness, were quick to meet consumer demands. A new eco-conscious focus gave DTC brands ample opportunity to get inventive with on-trend lines of organic and natural hair products. And as haircare brands started targeting the “genderless generation,” unisex/gender-neutral products saw a surge in demand. 

As a result, key DTC haircare players like L’OREAL, Unilever, Aveda, Shiseido, Revlon and Sephora reported record sales growth during the pandemic. Personalized DTC hair care websites like Prose, Function of Beauty, gemmist, eSalon and Hair.com also grew in popularity.

The 6 Trends Within the Trend

The hair care trend can be broad in scope, covering a wide range of hair-related topics and issues. But in 2021 people are especially focused on aspects of the DTC haircare trend that address specific haircare concerns. Here are six “trends within the trend” that beauty experts and stylists are seeing in 2021:


1. Scalp care: In 2021, people are putting as much care and attention into their scalps as they do their skin. In response, brands like L’Oreal are pumping up their scalp products to make them more potent and effective. Multi-dimensional scalp products are now formulated to promote a healthy scalp, treat dandruff, stimulate hair growth, cleanse impurities and fortify hair strands.


2. Organic and natural formulations: Consumers are looking deeper into organic labels and brands, leading to a demand for natural, vegan, silicon-free and plant-based products. Data shows that the interest in plant-based products has grown by 31% since 2020. Not surprisingly, eco-friendly haircare formulations are skyrocketing in popularity in 2021.


3. Natural textures: In 2021, men and women are rediscovering (and embracing) their natural hair textures. Haircare experts and stylists predict people will continue to look for styles that let their natural hair texture shine through. This also includes an emphasis on heat-free styling and products that promote natural hair types and textures. Whether wavy, curly, or straight, owning natural hair is big in 2021.


4. Affordable DIY color solutions: While DIY dye solutions may not be as accomplished as a stylist, they’re much cheaper. Affordability often makes the risk of a botched job worth it, and beauty brands jumped on this trend. L’Oreal, Schwarzkopf, Madison Reed and many others now offer robust selections of user-friendly and affordable color care and maintenance products. In a nod to another popular haircare trend, many of these products are also organic and chemical-free.


5. Hair loss and hair thinning solutions: Hair loss brought on by pandemic anxiety became a major issue in 2020. Today’s hair loss formulations are focusing on trending ingredients like peptide, ketoconazole and topical minoxidil that stimulate collagens. Hair loss products are also formulated with natural oils to provide hair cuticle and strand nourishment. Brands like Vegamour from Sephora and Keeps are leading the way in providing FDA-approved hair loss treatments.

6. Hair masks: 2021’s biggest haircare trend, hair masks are so popular the global hair mask market is projected to exceed $261million by 2026. Hair masks restore moisture, softness and brightness, often in a matter of minutes. Masks are now available for all hair types and for a wide variety of hair conditions. Some of the most popular types of haircare masks offered by brands like Christophe Robin, Leonor Greyle and Olaplex include:

  • Protein treatments
  • Masks for dark, red and blonde hair 
  • Masks for oily hair 
  • Dry hair treatment masks
  • Masks for color-treated hair

A Return to Normalcy?

As businesses reopen, men and women are returning to their favorite salons and stylists. Armed with new knowledge gleaned from their DIY experiences, stylists may find their clients to be more invested in their hair care than ever before. If anything, relationships between stylists and clients may be even tighter, as they both speak a common language brought on by the haircare trends of 2021.

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