Firms Comb Hair-Care Market for Growth

On the higher end of the price scale, cosmetics giant Estee Lauder recently acquired a majority stake in Bumble and Bumble LLC, a high-end hair salon and products company, which sells its hair-care line in more than 1,400 top-tier salons and a small number of select retailers worldwide.

The company did not disclose financial details, but Goldman Sachs analyst Amy Low Chasen estimates annual sales of about $25 million, with most of that coming from sales of products to salons. Estee Lauder’s Clinique line is also launching a line of prestige hair care products in July.

Science or Hype?

Though many companies are betting that consumers will pay for scientifically advanced hair products, do they really work?

Experts say the science behind hair care has gotten far more advanced in the last 10 years, but many new products popping up on beauty-care shelves are also masterful works of marketing.

“It’s just money,” says Dr. Mary Ann O’Donoghue, of the growth in new products. O’Donoghue is associate professor of dermatology at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke Medical in Chicago and vice president of the American Academy of Dermatology.

“The cosmetic industry is a multibillion-dollar industry. People like new products, and sometimes it’s just the little thrill of getting something new,” she adds.

But bad hair sufferers can take heart — Dr. O’Donoghue says some of the more effective products on the market today include those that straighten curly hair, make the hair shaft thicker and give UV protection.

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