The ethnic hair care market remains one of the most lucrative segments of the personal care market not only in South Africa but in Africa. According to Euromonitor International the value of the wet hair products sold in South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon currently exceeds R12 billion with South Africa’s market for wet and dry and hair care believed to be worth an estimated R4,5 billion.
Hair straightening remains a massive part of the market both for ethnic and caucasian hair types, however on the ethnic side there is a strong move towards embracing one’s natural hair. This trend represents both opportunities and challenges for ingredient suppliers and manufacturers as the products required for natural ethnic hair care differ somewhat from those used for hair extensions, weaves and straightened hair.
“It is common knowledge that breakage and general brittleness is a major problem for ethnic hair,” explains Robyn Brown, “This is because the hair shaft is flat with a twisted configuration and a thin diameter. Furthermore, there are intermittent variations in diameter as the twisting occurs, which causes recurrent weakening along each hair and this makes it prone to breakage.”
Added to this the curly nature of ethnic hair means that hair wraps around each other result in serious tangles and trying to de-tangle causes further damage. Pulling and tugging may lead to stressing the hair follicles and traction hair loss. Ingredients that help strengthen the hair and prevent breakage by improving flexibility of the hair shaft are therefore a must for ethnic hair care products.
Cobiosa, for which Botanichem is an agent, produce Trichomega – botanical omega acids ideal for split ends and broken hairs. It is extracted from the Sacha Inchi, a nut growing in the Amazon forests. It helps restore the lipid layer of the hair, which is the only continuous structure that can be found on the hair. “By restoring the lipids of this hair barrier, the hair is made more resistant to breakage and split ends,” explains Brown. It also enhances the flexibility of the hair preventing it from snapping.
Trichomega also contains Omega 3 (48%), Omega 6 (37%) and Omega 9 (8%). The Omega 3 promotes faster hair growth and helps the hair to be healthier, feeding the follicles to promote growth and shine.
“Chemical straightening is still big business, but the long-term damage is severe, which is why incorporating naturally derived ingredients such as vegetal derived biolipid complex into ethnic hair care products is ideal as it improves the day-to-day manageability of the hair reducing the need for chemical processes,” explains Brown.
Dandruff and itchy scalps is also another major issue for the ethnic market. This is because of the use of braids, extensions and wigs. Anti-dandruff applications are renowned for being harsh on sensitive scalps however ingredients such as Cobiosa’s Hexamidine Diisothionate – a glycolic solution which has anti-microbial and anti-irritant properties to help reduce and control dandruff and scalp irritations.
Trichomega, and Hexamidine Diisothionate are both available from Botanichem.