Longer lasting formulas are more sustainable

Living in America, I was raised to wash my hair every day. In 2005, while developing a new shampoo and conditioner formula for the mass market brand, I took it to an extreme and actually believe that I had the “most shampooed head in America.” That year I lathered my locks over 1500 times.

It was a little surprising to me to learn that daily shampooing was not the norm when shampoos first came out. This shampoo story by NPR (I’m a proud card carrying member by the way) tells how shampoos used to be a once a month activity. In 1908, an article in the New Yorker suggested people could safely shampoo every two weeks. Over time marketers convinced consumers in America that daily shampooing was best. It was pushed really hard in the 70’s and became the norm by the 80’s. Nice going P&G.

Shampooing every day

Well, it turns out that shampooing every day is more than people actually need. Dermatologists recommend washing your hair 2 or 3 times a week. I don’t know how they come to that number as it’s really just a matter of personal preference as to how often you shampoo. There are no health reasons to wash you hair more than once a month. However, most people are not going to like the way once a month shampooing feels.

The cosmetic industry would rather people wash their hair more frequently because that means more product will be sold. However, from a sustainability standpoint this is excessive. I don’t see how companies dedicated to producing sustainable products can justify encouraging consumers to continue to use this amount of product. Will we see big companies start pushing for people to use less product? Maybe.

Sustainability Strategy

As a cosmetic formulator, you might consider trying to make formulas that can create effects that last longer. This could ultimately reduce the amount of product used and support the sustainability goals of your company. At the very least, this could create an interesting marketing position for a new company. Are you looking for your Purple Cow positioning? This could be it.

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