Pongpera Mitradarmbidhaks
Pongpera is Mintel's Associate Director, Consumer Reports South APAC, Beauty and Personal Care. Based in Thailand, he is responsible for analysing and providing insights into the Thai beauty market and consumer trends.

The heat and humidity in South APAC are often associated with limp, dry and greasy hair.  In April, India recorded high temperatures exceeding 45 degrees Celsius, while in Singapore, the temperature reached 36 degrees Celcius in May. These unusually high temperatures make scalp problems more complicated.

However, scalp health is often overlooked which is the root cause of common hair problems and other hair conditions such as dandruff and itchiness. In fact, 74% of Indian consumers experience scalp concerns, while 55% of Thai consumers are concerned about dandruff.

Additionally, religious practices that involve daily hair covering, such as the wearing of hijabs among Muslim women and dastars among Sikh men, can trap heat and aggravate scalp problems. Here are some recommendations for brands to drive innovation and expand their offerings in the scalp care category:

1. Relieve itchy scalps with a cooling effect

Haircare players can address sweaty and itchy scalp problems by adding cooling sensations to haircare products. Half of Thai shampoo users identified cooling sensations as an important purchase factor.

Head & Shoulders Sub Zero Sensation Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. Source: Mintel GNPD

For example, Head & Shoulders launched a Sub Zero Sensation Anti-Dandruff Shampoo that provides an instant -5 degrees Celsius effect upon use. While this cooling effect is already a predominant feature in shampoo in the South APAC market, brands can explore innovative on-the-go formats such as leave-in treatments and dry shampoos that also help provide immediate relief for itchiness and offer a cooling sensation.

2. Address the unique dry hair and oily scalp combination

When consumers have mismatched hair and scalp conditions, it can be difficult to find the right solutions as most haircare products offer a one-size-fits-all fix for both hair and scalp.

Dove Hydro Gel Treatment Mask. Source: 7 Eleven Thailand

Dove has launched the Hydro Gel Treatment Mask, which is designed for consumers with dry hair and oily scalps. It features a hydro-gel texture that moisturises hair but does not cause greasiness that would further worsen the oily scalps.

Brands can also focus on targeted offerings for each scalp and hair condition in tropical weather markets.

3. Promote scalp scrub as a relaxing cleanse

As South APAC consumers are prone to develop excess oil and accumulate dirt on their hair and scalp due to the tropical climate, many are looking for extra cleanliness in their haircare regimen. 

This is where scalp scrubs can come into play. While the scrub format is still niche in APAC, it is growing globally, particularly in the form of treatments that are designed to exfoliate for a healthier hair and scalp.

Nexxus Invigorating Detox Scalp Scrub. Source: Mintel GNPD

Nexxus, an American haircare brand, recently launched its Clean & Pure Detox Scalp Scrub. The product delivers the ultimate cleanse by detoxifying, purifying, and removing impurities. Haircare brands can look into different cleansing claims to establish superior cleansing in scalp scrubs.

Adding scalp tools and supplements that promote scalp health will also complement scrubs nicely, creating a complete holistic approach.

4. Be creative with textures

Oil is still the most common texture for hair treatments, especially in India where it is a haircare staple and enjoys as high as 97% usage penetration, according to Mintel research. Still, oil textures typically leave a sticky sensation, making them unsuitable for tropical weather.

Jojoba oil serum. Source: Mintel GNPD

For example, Kojo Balancing Hair Serum from India contains jojoba oil that is known to help make hair shine, but comes in a lighter serum format, so consumers can enjoy both the high efficacy and light finish.

Brands can help consumers transition to these new textures by infusing oil into serums and essences, to balance both efficacy and light/fresh sensations, for ultimate scalp solutions.

What we think

Brands can build awareness of the impact of heat and sweat faced in daily life on scalp problems, and offer solutions that cater to these needs. At the same time, consumers’ priorities are shifting to holistic health which includes mental wellbeing. Using beauty products has become a solution not exclusively for beautifying, but also for providing an emotional uplift. Haircare brands can position scalp care as a way to improve emotional wellbeing by elevating the frustrations faced due to aggressive heat and humidity.

To read more about Mintel’s haircare research, click here.