The visible part of the hair, the hair fibre, is not living tissue. The living hair roots are anchored deeply in the skin of the scalp and form complex "mini-organs" that are composed of different cell types to produce the visible hair fibres. By studying the biological processes in the roots we are able to develop specific hair care products which not only nourish the hair fibre but also support the living part of the hair – the hair root – in its distinctive functions. The use of a recently developed reconstructed tissue model of the hair root offers us the chance to evaluate the optimal combinations of bioactives.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
Bringing numerous product innovations to the market like the first self-acting laundry detergent in the world, the first ever liquid hair shampoo and the first hair spray, just to name a few – we have shaped the lives of millions of people. Henkel looks back on a great history of innovations that revolutionized markets multiple times, and this tradition still continues to this day. We are well-known for our iconic brands such as Persil or Schwarzkopf, that were – and are – developed with leading technologies.
We build on strong consumer insights and knowledge around changing consumer behavior and trends. Continuous investments in research and development over generations have created a wealth of knowledge and patents. Together with universities and other research institutes, the international research team at Consumer Brands is constantly developing innovative products to delight our customers and consumers and exceed their expectations.
OUR R&D FOCUS AREAS
Our research and development activities benefit from our special approach as a multi-category platform. It creates unique research synergies through similarities in the R&D focus for hair and textiles. Solving common issues and technology challenges in the fields of raw materials, formulations, packaging concepts and production methods, help us to develop new technologies and formulations that form the basis for product innovations in our markets across all regions.
Hair – a very special fibre
Biophysics of hair and color screening
The efficacy of our hair cosmetic products can be verified on real hair by means of a multitude of biophysical test methods and can be substantiated statistically. Standard measurements such as hair gloss, volume and ease of combing can be made as well as analysis of the inner strength and thickness of the hair and numerous other characteristics. Environmental influences and styling procedures like repeated combing, blow-drying or straightening can be scrutinized to specifically develop products that prevent hair damage such as split ends or hair breakage.
Our tests with real hair strands give us information on the lastingness of hair colorations. Measurements following the use of advanced weathering equipment can be used to examine the resistance to fading due to light, washing and rubbing of our hair colorations. Currently we also focus on hair cosmetics with the ability to color dark hair without damage. The effect of care and styling products on colored hair is also investigated, working closely with the scientists in our product development areas. Here our research insights for textiles helped us, especially the approach to our “Fiber Renew Technology” that allows insights about reviving colors, renewing fibers and preventing of piling for optimal care.
Our test salons in Hamburg and Düsseldorf (Germany) form an essential part of our product development for new hair related products.
The test salon is equipped in a similar way to a modern hairdressing salon. A team of top colorists and stylists consisting of hairdressers and master hairdressers test all types of hair related products developed by our business unit Consumer Brands. The products tested are destined to be introduced worldwide into the local markets. They are used in professional hairdressing salons or by consumers themselves at home.
Prior to testing, a briefing is given to the test salon from the Marketing and Research & Development departments. Close cooperation with both departments is paramount.
An order for a trial in the test salon usually involves testing the properties of a new product such as color, care, shine, volume or hold. The trial involves the hairdressers performing a so-called "half side application test" following a standard test design. During this type of test a product which is currently on the market is applied to the right side of the scalp and a new optimized version of the product is applied to the left side of the scalp. This procedure allows a direct comparison of the two formulas as well as a clear choice of a test winner. Prior to use in the test salon all products have been tested in the laboratory and have been dermatologically certified. Not only does the test bring along insightful information about the new product, but also the models receive further insights about their hair as a personalized hair consultation is done based on a digital hair analysis. In addition, they will leave the test salon with perfectly styled and / or perfectly colored hair.
Some of our products are not designed for use in hairdresser salons but instead are for consumers to use themselves at home. A “self-use” test is performed for these products. The numerous mirrors in the test studio enable the self-user to view themselves from every angle and they also provide the test studio team with more insight into the application techniques used. An interesting fact about a self-use test is that the volunteers choose a follow-up appointment themselves according to when they would use the product again if they were at home. In this way we are able to imitate the true reality of the market.
Each product is subjected to the “hurdle" of the test salon before entering the market. The test salon self-use test process provides an insight into how consumers will use the product, so any problems can be detected and eliminated beforehand. A typical example is the instructions for use; because our volunteers use the products themselves in the test salon as well as at home we can ensure that the instructions are clear and easy to understand.
A test salon approval is only given when the product, packaging and instructions for use have all been fully evaluated and conform to our high standards.
Sustainable packaging concepts – towards a circular economy
Packaging plays a key role in our modern way of life. Without it, most products would expire or get damaged before arriving in a store. When it comes to tackling the challenges of sustainable packaging, packaging designers are the key players. From integrating more recycled material in new packaging to making packaging easier to recycle after use: These experts create packaging that protects the products while also offering a better contribution to the planet.
Recent examples in our portfolio in this area are all free clear eco in North America – an ultra-concentrated liquid detergent with packaging made of 100 percent recycled plastic, Pril Strong & Natural, through the use of recyclable refill bags, or the solid shampoo bars in a recyclable folded paper box under the Schauma brand.
Our global R&D Network
innovation centers around the world
highly specialized scientists & researchers
biodegradable ingredients in our formulas