Having strong, healthy and “expensive” hair is all the rage in 2022, and bond-building hair-care brands are especially well poised to seize on the trend. Brands like Olaplex and K18 have dedicated themselves to strengthening hair and thus improving overall its appearance, while Redken, L’Oréal and Aveda have their own hero products that are made for bond-building. Exclusively for Glossy, Launchmetrics ranked the top-five buzziest bond-building brands and products between Jan. 1, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2021, with Olaplex unsurprisingly coming in at No.1. Redken’s Acidic Perfecting Leave-in Treatment followed at No. 2, then L’Oréal’s EverPure Sulfate-Free Bond Strengthening Conditioner at No. 3. K18 came in at No. 4, and Aveda’s Botanical Repair Strengthening Leave-In Treatment snagged the No. 5 spot. Launchmetrics‘ ranking is based MIV, a proprietary Launchmetrics metric standing for media impact value. MIV tracks the impact of influencers, print media, celebrities, official third-party partners and a brand’s own media channels.
It is no surprise that Olaplex ranked No. 1, as the company launched in 2014 in the professional channel and helped bring bond-building into the hair-care conversation. It counts nearly 500,000 hairstylists who use its products in the U.S. alone, and it’s begun selling consumer-facing products direct-to-consumer and through retail partners like Sephora and Ulta Beauty. The company went public in Oct. 2021, raising $1.55 billion and valuing the company at $14 billion. K18, meanwhile, leapfrogged into the top five. The brand launched a single consumer-facing product in Dec. 2020 before expanding to the professional hair salon space in March 2021. It raised $24 million in venture capital in 2021. K18 already plans to be in 80 countries by the end of 2022, as well as enter into prestige beauty retail. It is currently sold in 20,000 salons globally. K18 has also encroached on Olaplex’s positioning at Sephora, as the brand entered the retailer in Dec. 2021 and surpassed $500,000 in sales in the first two weeks, according to a brand spokesperson. Olaplex’s S-1 filing from Aug. 2021 showed it had a 7% penetration at Sephora, which Wong positioned as a positive, as shows there is continued room for growth. The K18 spokesperson said K18 earned $20 million in revenue in 2021 and projects revenue of $75 million in 2022 Much like Olaplex refers to itself as a “technology company,” K18 is trying to brand itself as a biotech company. But K18 is also trying to position itself as the only hair-care product of its kind that you need, no matter what hair type you have. The line only has only one product, which sells for $75. Meanwhile, Olaplex currently sells eight individual bonding products, including shampoo, masks and oil, for $28 each. “For K18, the skinification of hair means getting deep inside [the hair strand], like what a retinol [does for skin]. It is not surface-level, like makeup, which is how hair products have historically acted,” said Michelle Miller, K18 svp of marketing. Meanwhile, Redken Acidic Perfecting Leave-in Treatment is also relatively new on the market, launching only in Jan. 2021. The same goes for L’Oréal’s EverPure Sulfate-Free Bond Strengthening Conditioner, which debuted July 2021. Aveda’s Botanical Repair Strengthening Leave-In Treatment is modestly older, having launched in Oct. 2020. According to NPD Group data, 2021 sales for hair-care products increased 47% year-over-year. This large growth is due, at least in part, to new innovations in the space, which include the growing bond-building category.