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Hair care sails

Mass market hair care sales are thriving. These brands told us why.

Americans are spending lofty sums to shampoo, grow, remove, style and strengthen their tresses.

Hair care sales expanded 8% for the first half of 2023, according to Circana data. The most promising news for mass merchants is that almost all segments are on the rise, including stylers, which have been flat over the past three years. The only downside to the category’s bouncy business outlook is that prestige retailers are growing their sales faster than mass, but drug, food and supermarkets still control the lion’s share of sales.

Some key areas are driving an uptick in sales: the ongoing emphasis on scalp care, textured hair products, formulas that help hair grow and a bevy of new items hitting mass market shelves. One of the buzziest is the debut hair color brand Madison Reed in Walmart.

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“Madison Reed is deeply rooted in the belief that prestige, salon-quality hair color made without harsh ingredients should be accessible,” said Amy Errett, founder and CEO of Madison Reed, in a release announcing the Walmart distribution. “To us this means empowering our guests to choose where and when they purchase our products and color their hair, so they have the freedom to enjoy gorgeous results on their own terms.”

Sales of Madison Reed soared during the pandemic when consumers scurried to find hair color products beyond the box formulas. Many shoppers have stuck with the brand.

Target also sells Function of Beauty, a personalized hair care brand that launched DTC before creating a self-service option.

Drug chains, including CVS and Walgreens, have also stepped up their hair care assortments with the addition of lines such as HIMS and HERS, Native Hair Care and a wider array of items for textured tresses.

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With hair care delivering some of the biggest gains in beauty aisles, DSN asked brands that are standouts in the four biggest segments—shampoos/conditioners, stylers, hair growth and tools—to pinpoint their best sellers, why those items are trending up and what they predict for the category in the year to come.

Younger consumers are rediscovering brands from the past, often on social media. The iconic Dippity Do is finding new shoppers for its 50-year-old brand.

Stylers Awaken:

After years of little growth, the styling segment is growing double digits, per Circana. Gels and mousse are part of today’s hairstyles, and retailers are reaping the benefits. An iconic brand from the past, Dippity Do, is back and finding a new audience.

Brand: Pacific World Dippity Do 
Best Seller: Dippity Do Styling Gel

“While not the sexiest new brand in the market, our tried-and-true Dippity Do Styling Gel still performs at the highest levels,” said Christine Tran, vice president of innovation, product development and marketing at Pacific World Corporation. Pacific World acquired the 50-year-old- plus Dippity Do earlier this year. The brand has been in distribution in Canada, and Pacific World is reestablishing it in the U.S.

“The latest Nielsen report shows in Canada, Dippity Do as the number in units and number three in sales dollars, outpacing the category in growth—an increase of 9% for Dippity Do versus 3% category,” said Tran “We are the best north of the border and perform successfully in Mexico. Our opportunity lies in bringing this winning story to the US.”

Tran said the brand performs because it brings high performance to the growing textured hair category at a low price. “Certainly, the economic landscape for the past year continues to tighten shopper’s wallets, and the value segment has proven to be more important not only for the customer but also our retail partners. Having a brand that thrives in this area, as well as actually performs above its punching weight compared to the big brands in textured hair, are the reasons we are seeing Dippity Do outpacing the industry,” she said.

For the future, she’s seeing a demand for multitasking products and a return of retro styles that work well with gels. “The beauty of gel is in its flexible application to support any style and works with most hair types as well. People are starting to embrace their natural texture, whatever that might be, and are looking for products that amplify their style and help them feel their best. Hair is such a big part of people’s identity and personality so looking for products that they can use for multiple looks but also being their most authentic self is very important.”

“While not the sexiest new brand in the market, our tried- and-true Dippity Do Styling Gel still performs at the highest levels.”
– Christine Tran, vice president of innovation, product development and marketing, Pacific World Corporation
OKAY Pure Naturals is known for its Black Jamaican Castor Oil Shampoos and Conditioners. The company was one of the first to bring it to mass market retailers.

Natural Continues to Clean Up in Shampoos and Conditioners

Shampoo and conditioner sales in the mass market are approaching 10% growth, especially as consumers trade up to more expensive brands and healthier ingredients.

Brand: OKAY Pure Naturals
Top-Seller: Black Jamaican Castor Oil Shampoo/ Conditioner/Leave-in

“Over a decade ago, we were one of the first in the market offering a natural hair care solution for all hair types. Throughout independent beauty stores in this country, our reputation grew for quality ingredients and affordable prices,” said Chris Lopez, marketing director for OKAY Pure Naturals.

The Black Jamaican Castor Oil hair care set is available at Walmart, Dollar General, Sally Beauty and independent beauty stores.

Lopez forecasts a bigger demand for benefit-driven hair care products and timeless ingredients. The specific issues he sees on the radar are products to prepare long damaged hair, scalp care, wave revival and volumizing mousses. The tried-and-true ingredients he expects to become popular (again) are argan oil, tea tree and biotin, along with others that are a counteraction to the constant churn of trends posted on social media. 

“This time they’re showing up not just as one ingredient but a medley like argan plus tea tree plus biotin and coconut oils,” he said. Keeping with the demand for specific needs, Lopez said a Natural Scalp Collection is in the works.

One of Conair’s hero products is the Double Ceramic 1-1/4 inch curling iron. With appliance sales booming, the company is bringing back Curl Secret, a fan favorite.

Tool Time

Appliance sales are just starting to perk up, especially as more consumers pull back on spending at salons. Conair is and remains the leading brand, followed by Helen of Troy and Remington, according to Circana.

Brand: Conair
Best Seller: Conair Double Ceramic 11⁄4-Inch Curling Iron

Reviews really move the needle and the Conair Double Ceramic 1 1/4 -Inch Curling Iron has over 78,000 reviews and was voted the best curling iron by Cosmopolitan Readers in the 2023 Cosmopolitan Readers’ Choice Beauty Awards, according to Michelle Stearns, sr. director of marketing for hair fashion appliances at Conair.

The curling iron is designed to create flowy, loose curls and beachy waves. The higher ceramic content of the iron offers even heat and gorgeous, long-lasting styles with less frizz, according to Stearns.

The versatility of the iron with 30 heat settings, and instant heat up to 400 degrees,

makes it suitable for all hair types. Looking into the future, Stearns expects to see a heightened emphasis on hair care tools designed to safeguard hair from damage and make-at-home styling easier.

“The world of curling on your own can be quite intimidating. However, after a decade, Conair’s Curl Secret is making a return, reclaiming its position at the forefront of trends,” Stearns said. “It’s redefining the art of curling by seamlessly incorporating cutting-edge technology like preset curl types and customizable curl directions plus ceramic coating and even heat distribution, to ensure not only less heat damage but also the promise of a magical new styling experience.”

“Once someone with a hair thinning issue uses the products, they actually see the difference and become loyal customers.”
– David Horwitz, vice president of Pura D’Or
Whether from age or stress, Americans report they are losing their hair. Pura D’Or’s shampoos and conditioners are helping many shoppers strengthen their strands.

Stronger Strands

Whether from stress, pregnancy, aging or other reasons, Americans say their hair is thinning. Consumers are snapping up supplements and searching for products that help stem loss and build stronger strands.

Brand: Pura D’Or
Best-Seller: Hair Thinning Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner/Advanced Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner.

The Pura D’Or shampoos and conditioners are tested and proven to reduce thinning, according to company David Horwitz, vice president of Pura D’Or. “Once someone with a hair thinning issue uses the products, they actually see the difference and become loyal customers,” he added.

Thinning tresses, he added, is something experienced by all, not just older consumers. “It’s not just people that have hair medical issues that have their hair thin due to side effects and medication but there is genetic hair loss, hormonal hair loss, hair loss as we age, etc. And people don’t want to wait until their hair starts thinning—they want preventative products to help maintain,” he said.

“The trends that we are seeing continue to be overall hair and scalp health. No matter what the trends are in the style, if you have a clean scalp and healthy hair, the cuts will perform as they were intended,” Horwitz explained.