Once color-resistant, Asians now digs trendy, outlandish hair shades

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Rainbow dip-eye locks in bright blue and silver streaks are an edgy trend for the brave. But for people who want to express their individuality without going overboard, red hair color is considered hot, while ombré or two-toned graduating tresses are making a comeback.

Pablo Coromina, export director of the Spanish haircare brand Lakmé, observes that hair coloring has become a fashion phenomenon that is influencing the once color-resistant Asian countries.

“Forty percent of our sales come from Asia,” he says. “Young Asian men are using more hair coloring and styling products.”

Asian women are going blonde or highlighting their black hair with metallic streaks, he adds.

Change in consumers’ attitudes is the cause for the dramatic rise in hair coloring. No longer perceived as a product for mature people to cover their grays, hair coloring is accepted as a fashion accessory for the young and young-at-heart. Men and women are taking to unnatural shades, altered frequently in step with the trends or to mimic a music or fashion icon.

“Hair coloring is the only category growing in countries with or without economic crisis. We all want to be different and change our looks often.  If people can own several pairs of glasses for every occasion, it’s the same with color. You want to look different in the winter and in the summer,” says Coromina.

Barcelona-based company

Lakmé, a brand that has been conquering the hairdressing world, was launched recently at the Peninsula Manila. The  Barcelona-based company was established by Lakmé CEO Daniel Carreras and his brother, Victor, whose grandmother, a hairdresser, ran the top salon in Barcelona. Their father, also a hairdresser, developed a hair care brand that was sold in Spain.

Daniel managed the business until the brothers decided to develop a global haircare brand.  When the Carreras brothers were looking for a company name, they looked at the opera for inspiration. (their uncle is tenor Jose Carreras.)

The name of the company, Lakmé Cosmetics SL, was derived from an opera about an Indian priestess, written by Leo Delibes. Unlike conglomerates that offer hair coloring for both the supermarket and salon use,  Lakmé is a salon brand. One of its strengths is the range of its foolproof shades.

The local distributor, Andrea Zulueta, president of Salon Beautifier Inc., points out that Lakmé has the widest range of ash tones, which complement the warm skin tones of the Filipina. Under the name Collage, the shades boost the depth and intensity of the client’s original hair color and also add shine.

At the launch, a hair show presented local models sporting romantic hair styles in shades ranging from deep reds to deep violets and even copper and orange tones.

For rainbow streaks, “Other brands don’t have a specific color tube for blue,” says Zulueta. Before, you had to mix to get these colors. Now there’s a tube for blue, orange and red.”

However, the  refinement of color ranges is only one factor in the manufacturers’ strategy. The competition between brands occurs at the technological level. As consumers become more informed about hair care and a younger demographic is being targeted, manufacturers are coming up with hair coloring products that are derived from nature.

Protein balance

The use of Lakmé is said to improve the hair’s integrity over time. The color is fail-safe and is pre-adjusted with no oxidizing off tones. Carreras says the low ammonia content does not intervene with the state of the hair cuticle. As the protein balance stays coherent, the hair can hold onto the color much longer than ammonia-based products.

“The color will be more vibrant,” says Zulueta.

Coromina says Lakmé  distinguishes itself from other brands because of its High Affinity System. Its proteins  are similar to the hair protein that are easily absorbed as if they are part of the hair. The particles are the size of molecules, which can easily seep into the hair fibers.  Other particles are positively charged to neutralize the effect of negatively charged particles in damaged hair.

“Our inspiration comes from the salon professionals and the hairdressers,” says Carreras. “We understand that hair care is a mixture of creativity and technicality. We are doing our best  to give professionals a tool to achieve something. Ultimately, it is the professional who makes it happen.”

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