Reverse-wash products emerge as the trend enters the mainstream

April 20, 2016
3 min read

What’s the story?

The broader trend towards healthy looking, voluminous hair has seen a sharp rise in hair repair systems, yet many consumers are interested in experimenting with out-of-the-box approaches to haircare routines. After early reports on the revitalizing benefits of the “reverse-wash” routine spread like wildfire over the blogosphere and social media in 2015 to reveal an unmet consumer demand, brands are beginning to capitalize with products designed specifically for a reverse-wash routine.

Why is this important?

The power behind the “reverse-wash” concept is its unapologetic rewriting of traditional haircare routine rules: the conditioner is used first to soften the hair, then shampooed to wash away weight, which leaves the hair smooth, polished and voluminous.

Furthermore, the method is firmly backed by science, as trichologists have found that a reverse-wash achieves the moisturizing benefits from the conditioner and proper cleansing from the shampoo without leaving behind the chemical residue from traditional routines that so often make hair prone to damage.

According to Mintel’s Shampoo, Conditioner and Hairstyling Products US 2015, 65% of US haircare users would be interested in using cleansing conditioners– in part motivated by the desire to minimize damage – which suggests consumers are willing to try out new conditioner formats to get the desired results. It also suggests that brands tapping into the novelty and simplicity of the reverse-wash format could garner attention from a large group of consumers willing to experiment.

Another key factor is the relative low cost of trialing a reverse-wash routine. Consumers can initially dispense with extra high-end haircare products and instead use mass-market conditioner and shampoo brands, priming them for the new brands entering the niche. This is significant when viewed in the context of around 2 in 5 US shampoo and conditioner purchases are influenced by low price.


Opportunity knocks as first reverse-wash products hit the marketplace

Although the trend towards healthy looking hair has seen a proliferation of hair repair systems such as L’Oréal’s ProFiber, there is almost a total void of products designed around the reverse-wash concept.

In February 2016, TRESemmé teamed up with model and television host Chrissy Teigen to introduce Beauty-Full Volume, a first of its kind haircare system specifically formulated to work together, in reverse, to provide a salon-quality solution to achieving soft, voluminous hair.

TRESemmé is maximizing the novelty impact of Beauty-Full Volume with a robust marketing program across print and digital featuring Chrissy Teigen as well as partnering with digital influencers who will be chronicling their reverse-wash journey through a series of videos on YouTube and in paid media in order to leverage the reverse-wash’s grass-roots following.

What we think

  • The niche nature of the reverse-wash segment means that fast acting brands still have a unique opportunity to shape the segment over the next two to three years.
  • Brands could exploit powerful, prevailing trends for maximum impact of their new reverse-wash product collections. For example, brands could tap into current Asian beauty trends sweeping western markets by making links between their product formulations and ancient Asian techniques that favor treating the hair with nourishing herb extracts before any actual rinsing or washing takes place.
  • Leveraging the novelty of the reverse-wash method to build an extended product portfolio could also be a successful strategy.
  • Because any reverse-wash routine should be tweaked according to hair type, this could open up potential for online mass-customisation in the vein of e-Salon.
Michelle Strutton
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