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Markets & trends

Increased online search for curls heats up the market and strengthens the production chain

The cosmetics industry has gained support of digital influencers who have taken a key role in empowering women with curly hair.

For the first time in history, internet searches related to curly hair have outperformed searches for straight hair in Brazil, according to data from Google BrandLab. The study shows an increase of 232% in the interest for curly hair in the last year and a 309% growth in searches for afro hair in the last two years. The study also points out that 24% of women between the ages of 18 and 24 identify themselves as having curly hair. However, the older the women are, the more difficult it is to embrace their natural hair.

YouTube is considered to be major contributor to this trend as the platform is particularly popular among young people looking for tutorials and sharing their own experiences. By uploading videos with tips and tricks on how to style and maintain curly hair, vloggers have been taking the beauty world by storm and building trust and empathy with their audience. Even kids are joining the effort. In 2015, when Carolina Monteiro was only eight years old, she recorded a video in support of naturally curly hair and against racial discrimination. The video went viral and inspired her to create her own YouTube channel where she talks about self-esteem and curly hair pride.

The natural hair movement has popped up all over the internet and social media and seemingly gained more traction lately, filling the shelves of supermarkets and cosmetics stores as well as boosting the supply chain. According to Google BrandLab, searches related to transitioning from chemically straightened to natural hair have grown by 55% in Brazil in the last two years. Terms such as hair schedule, hair texturizing, co-washing, low poo and no poo have become widely used and stamped on the packaging of the latest product releases.

So how can brands benefit from this movement? Data from the Edelman 8095 study shows that millennials expect to be involved as active participants in the brands’ decisions and that the companies establish an open dialogue with consumers. The survey points out that 68% of respondents demand transparency in product claims and 58% of them tend to buy from brands that make communication a two-way street.

Despite the trend towards curly hair and empowerment campaigns led by digital influencers, Google’s research shows that racial discrimination has not yet dissipated. One in three women said that they have suffered discrimination and four out of ten have felt discouraged or frustrated about their curly hair. The YouTubers themselves hold meetings to support the movement, exchange experiences and test products. One of the first gatherings of curly hair supporters was ’Casa Tô de Cacho’. Held in 2015 and sponsored by the company Salon Line, it brought together ten bloggers to give tips on how to manage and maintain curly hair.

The raw materials industry has also seen an increase in the demand for curl enhancing ingredients. Juliana Frutoso, sales manager at Beraca, said they play a key role in the company’s business plan. Among the most popular active ingredients, she highlights the pequi oil. It is rich in provitamin A, along with oleic acid and palmitic acid, and claims to define curls and control frizz. The oil can be used in shampoos, conditioners, leave-in products and serums, as well as low-poo and co-wash products. “There has been a growing demand from formulators for ingredients suitable for curly hair products and this is reflected in the number of new product launches,” says Frutoso.

Vanessa Soares

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