Skincare who? Scalp treatments and hair care content are gen Z’s new favourite trends

By Emma O'Regan-Reidy

Published Oct 6, 2023 at 10:48 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

Noticed an increase in haircare content on your FYP this year? You’re not alone. While skincare regimens are still queen online, scalp and hair treatments are slowly but surely gaining traction in the beauty sphere. The term “scalp treatment” currently has an average monthly search volume of 18,100. This average has risen 67 per cent from 12,100 as of January 2022. So, what’s with the boom in haircare routines, and why are some referring to it as the “skintification” of hair? Let’s get into it.

The popularity of haircare can, in part, be attributed to the pandemic. One of the reported side effects of COVID-19 was hair loss. Furthermore, with all of the extra time on our hands, more comprehensive self-care routines started to flourish for some. Plus, as most salons were shut down during quarantine measures, many took to dyeing and treating their hair at home. Pair that with the skyrocketing popularity of TikTok (and the myriad of influencer-recommended products shown on the app) over the past three years, and it’s a perfect storm for the origins of today’s influx of haircare content.

SCREENSHOT spoke with Chlöe Swift, a professional stylist and hair care expert, who says she’s “so glad scalp and hair care is now more popular across social media. I think up until now it had been completely overlooked!”

Over her years working in salons, she’s noticed clients’ scepticism about professional haircare treatments and products wane, and credits social media as distributing information about the importance of scalp and haircare. So, what’s the difference between the two? 

“Your scalp and hair have very different needs,” explains Swift. “You may have damaged hair but a dry flaky scalp or dry hair with an oily scalp, so we need to recognise our scalp’s needs and our hair’s needs individually to have healthy, thriving hair.”

Swift also mentions that a scalp and haircare routine can offer a lot of benefits you may not even be aware of. It can resolve common issues, such as dandruff, excess oil, dullness and damage, to name a few. “I have the most damaged hair come back to life after a good cut and then regularly using professional haircare products over time,” says Swift.

People have become increasingly curious about their haircare products and what they are using on their scalp (similar to how specific consumers are about their skincare products). As a result, consumers have become more focused on what brands can meet our needs when it comes to specific formulas and products.

One haircare brand that undeniably disrupted the industry and propelled more people towards the realm of scalp treatments is Olaplex. In its Hair Care Trends report, the consumer trend analyst company Spate called out how Olaplex’s unique, scientific-led bond-building products were super hyped in 2022, as well as this year.

Olaplex ranked as the most searched haircare brand with a monthly average of 663,200 clicks. After making its splash across social media, Olaplex’s popularity prompted other brands to expand its scalp and haircare collections. This, in turn, made scientific-led, dermatologist-recommended products must-haves in the beauty world, and made consumers more aware of specific ingredients. This is echoed in Harris Williams’ report, which observes that “haircare consumers have never been smarter, more interested, and more educated about the products they are using, which includes understanding the key ingredients that drive the best results.” 

It’s also worth noting that gen Z is the most diverse generation yet. According to Pew Research Center, around 48 per cent of gen Z is non-white. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that there’s a growing desire for products that accommodate an array of hair types and textures. As per Williams: “This is an enormous market, with over one billion consumers globally, who spend 78 per cent more than those with straight hair.”

Likewise, Williams observes that “chemical-free and natural looks [have] become the new norm, in part, due to more states passing the CROWN Act, a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination,” which was passed in the US in 2022. Together, these stats seem to indicate that detailed haircare routines haven’t been and won’t be just another passing trend.

Curious how you can start a simple, more effective haircare routine? Swift says that “the best place to start if you are unsure is by getting yourself a professional shampoo and conditioner. You can purchase these from your hair salon or usually premium department stores or online beauty retailers.” In particular, the expert suggests everyone use a heat protectant (whether it’s a spray or a cream) and, ideally, an oil to get started on a healthy hair journey. Lastly, Swift added that you shouldn’t forget to massage your scalp to promote circulation and hair growth.

 

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