The biggest challenge in Ethnic beauty care is research and development. Catering to multicultural consumers requires product development for a much broader range of hair and skin types. Ethnic skin is better adapted to the sun, but when exposed to a cold, dry climate it loses its protective hydrolipidic film and natural radiance. The skin type requires special care, including moisturisation, sebum control, and smoothing products.
Ethnic hair, be it relaxed, braided or a natural afro, needs special care too. This hair type can become fragile and break easily. The trend towards more natural African hair styles has sparked a new direction in product development, with claims ranging from anti-frizz and anti-shrinkage to edge control.
Formulation design for darker skins can also be challenging. Some foundations can result in a greyish skin finish while an uneven skin tone can make it difficult to find one foundation that matches multicultural consumers’ needs.
A market with unique demands
The rise in demand for customised products for Ethnic consumers is seeing an expansion of product offerings on the market and of course intensified competition among brands. This creates increased marketing activity usually resulting in enhanced consumption. For example, in North America the number of Ethnic personal care products launched is growing from year to year. There is also significant expansion in Africa’s hair care market, with conditioners growing by 11 percent encouraged by enhanced internet connectivity and the demands of a rising middle class.
But what products are best suited to the Ethnic consumers’ needs, and what is trending in multicultural beauty? Anti-ageing products have never been that popular as this concern is more dominant among Caucasian consumers. However, products promising to moisturise, brighten and provide an even skin tone are very popular. Multi-beneficial alphabet creams that cover and correct, brightening and blurring creams or oil controlling ones are all commonly used by Ethnic consumers. More mainstream brands are also entering this market with naturally positioned products.
The lack of diversity in makeup shades has been the cosmetics industry’s biggest flaw. But now beauty giants are taking a step in the right direction by launching products in a much broader colour range. These include trendy liquid metal shades such as warm silver, copper and bronze, which flatter especially darker skin types. Also popular are orange and spicy nuances such as cinnamon, nutmeg and curry.
The movement in favour of natural hair is supported by new research, which shows relaxers are on a decline, while the use of shampoos, conditioners and styling agents is increasing. Lowpoo cleansers, which do not contain surfactants (or ‘poo’), offer mild cleansing with conditioning and care benefits. Styling aids have received a significant boost in the past few years, particularly those with essential properties such as anti-frizz, curl definition and anti-shrinkage. Edge control products are also very popular for taming new hair (the ‘fly-aways’ at the hairline) and keeping braids, twists and cornrows in shape.
Multifunctional wax ingredient
Myrica Fruit Wax fits perfectly into the Ethnic beauty concept as it boosts the performance of low-poo products and gives edge control formulations the ideal hardness. When used in oil control formulations, it supports a dry and velvet feel and a silky matte effect.
It is a unique wax because it has no double bonds; it is a naturally ‘hydrogenated’ oil with a low melting point of 45 to 55°C yet has extraordinary hardness. This combination of properties gives Myrica Fruit Wax exceptionally good spreadability in cosmetics formulations. It reduces the stickiness of emulsions and cream gels, gives hair styling products excellent holding properties, and when used in hair conditioners it improves ease of combing.
Ethnic hair can be difficult to style or shape. Another common issue is hair shrinkage, which refers to the hair getting shorter after drying. The anti-shrinkage performance of Myrica Fruit Wax has been tested on Type 5 hair tresses. Hair classified from Type 1 to 4 is straighter with the increase in number from Type 5 to 8 assigned to more tightly coiled hair. Type 5 represents chemically treated, mainly African hair. Yet it is very difficult to source virgin Type 5 for testing purposes.
To test the efficacy of Myrica Fruit Wax on Ethnic hair, KahlWax, represented locally by Savannah Fine Chemicals Fine Chemicals, formulated a lowpoo conditioner with five percent of the active ingredient and an edge control cream with seven percent. Test protocol saw the company rinse untreated hair tresses with a 15 percent SLES solution. After washing, hair strands with a thickness of 3cm x 4cm were divided. Untreated hair strands were also used as a control. The aforementioned hair care products were applied on the different wet strands. Shortly after application the strands were measured with a ruler to determine their length in centimetres. The diameter was also determined using a string, and the hair was left to air-dry. After 24 hours, the measurements were repeated. The results depicted in Graph 1 show the hair treated with edge cream had the lowest shrinkage.