To say that Augustinus Bader has disrupted the skin-care space would be an understatement. Surely you know the story by now: Building on more than 30 years of research, Bader, a German stem cell and biomedical scientist, launched 2018’s The Cream—a facial moisturizer based on his groundbreaking hydrogel, which activates regeneration of the body’s own stem cells and allows some burn patients to forgo skin grafts—and built a cult following virtually overnight. So naturally, when the brand announced it would be applying its revolutionary, science-led approach to hair care, we were full of intrigue. It’s certainly a marker of the burgeoning “skinification” of hair, i.e., the industry’s shift toward all-encompassing scalp care to sustain stronger, healthier-looking strands.
“We’re not a skin-care brand, we’re a technology platform,” says Charles Rosier, CEO of Augustinus Bader. “Skin care was just the easiest way to start.” Because hair concerns can be heavily affected by a number of factors like stress and hormonal imbalances, he insists that it “may be even more complex than skin health.” But leave it to Bader himself to crack the code—and do so in characteristically mold-breaking fashion. The Augustinus Bader Hair Collection, which includes a shampoo, conditioner, scalp treatment, hair oil, and leave-in treatment, is formulated with Bader’s patented TFC-8 or Trigger Factor Complex, made from natural amino acids, vitamins, and synthesized molecules naturally found in skin to activate the body’s stem cells, supporting cellular renewal. “The theory about aging that’s behind [our skin-care] developments is that we have less and less access to repairing environments—the cells that sit on the scalp also need a healthy environment,” explains Bader. “It’s as if the stem cells behind your body are behind a steering wheel and they decide where they want to go. We’re just giving them a roadmap. They have the knowledge.” According to Rosier, optimizing the cellular environment boils down to nurturing overall hair health for “stronger hair that will have better texture, better shine, and better resistance to environmental pollutants, coloring, and heat styling.”
As Bader, the man and the brand, pioneers new research and innovation into the hair-care space, another science-powered launch from a major player in the skin-care arena comes from German molecular scientist and aesthetics doctor Barbara Sturm, who today launches her molecular hair care collection with three core lines—Balancing, Super Anti-Aging, and Anti-Hair Fall—each featuring a targeted shampoo, conditioner, and scalp serum powered by a number of base ingredients, like soothing and moisture-boosting panthenol and strengthening purslane (which Sturm has dubbed the “fountain of youth enzyme”), to support the scalp microbiome and in turn encourage healthy, beautiful hair.
“We often overlook our scalp and don’t give it the same attention as our faces and bodies, but the scalp is an extension of our skin,” explains Sturm, stressing that this especially pertains to aging hair. “Though the hair on the scalp offers varying degrees of protection, the scalp ages in the same way the skin does—involving both biological factors and damage-related factors, including internal and environmental assaults, such as UV and growing pollution levels.” New York City trichologist Bridgette Hill calls attention to the effects of hair coloring and other in-salon chemical treatments on the scalp. “The impact of aging and chemical services affects the tissues and cells required for protein synthesis, the building of hair fiber and the structures and functions of the scalp that support our hair follicles and hair fibers,” explains Hill, who encourages her clients to build scalp awareness and restore proper vitamins and nourishment to the scalp and hair fiber by making dedicated scalp care a regular, well-honed ritual.
While luxury skin-care companies are disrupting hair care, other coveted but more accessible next-generation brands are also getting into the game. In 2020, Drunk Elephant launched four clean core hair products with skin-loving ingredients, and the brand just unveiled its pH-balanced Laini Latherless cleansing conditioner, laced with scalp-supporting ingredients like argan and sacha inchi seed oils. Nécessaire entered the space over the summer with a plant-powered, fragrance-free Scalp Duo featuring ingredients like moisturizing aloe vera leaf juice and antioxidant-rich niacinamide.