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Hues are haute

Black is no longer beautiful. It's raining colours as far as tress couture goes


STYLE QUOTIENT Models sporting colour and style, on their hair that is

Remember "Ye Hai Reshmi Zulfon Ka" with Mumtaz using her dark hair to devastating effect? Or Biswajeet teasing Waheeda Rehman in Bees Saal Baad with "Dekhiye Woh Kaali Kaali Badliyan Zulf Ki Ghata". Those were the times when beauty meant black hair or vice-versa.

Not any more, the zulfon ki ghata has literally been stolen. Gold, copper, iridium... they are no longer limited to the Periodic Table of chemistry class, youngsters are learning about them from the shade cards of hairdressers.

It's destination India for all the cosmetics majors — L'Oreal, Schwarzkopf, Wella or Keune all are making their presence felt in the Indian hair care industry which stands at around Rs. 1,500 crores.

"It is a natural progression. India has become a global business brand," says Jawed Habib, the star hair stylist who recently wrote a book, Hair Care for All Seasons. Jawed says colouring is not limited to the elite, it has percolated down to the masses. The Brylcreem generation is waning.

"With so much exposure to fashion, people are ready to experiment. And after trying out different hairstyles they move on to hair colour. I have clients who want a change every couple of months. Even kids know what exactly they want."

A major player

For corporates, India is still a virgin territory. "There is a kind of saturation in the European market. India with its numbers, and the eagerness to experiment is a major attraction," says Olaf Van Herpen of Keune Haircosmetics.

As for trends, Jawed says: "These days copper, khaki, mahogany and gold are in demand but soon you would see loud tones on the streets." Herpen claims they are selling the same products as they are selling in the European market. Things are getting technical with every passing season. "The bugbear ammonia, which could cause allergy, is no longer there."

Putting henna and waiting for hours is passé. Vismay Sharma, Director, L'Oreal, that has recently launched Majirel Advanced Technology with 76 shades, says: "The colours are not only lasting but also make the hair strong and shiny. This was not the case earlier. The ingredients no longer remain at the surface. They reach up to the cortex and cuticle."

A slew of after-colour products are also available in the market. With the competition getting hotter, every little technical improvement is advertised with major fanfare and the self-proclaimed "hair doctors" such as Jawed are playing a part there. He admits their relationship is akin to pharmaceutical companies going after doctors.

Starry trend

Bollywood is playing a role here. The stars seem to be inspired by the real world. Jawed observes these days actors are changing hairstyles with every film and most of them are using colours. "After all, they are also part of the globalised world," he quips.

With Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan growing their hair, Jawed predicts long hair is going to return. "The trend won't last long though. It's very difficult to maintain long hair," he feels. For women he suggests shoulder length as the best. "Gone are the days of Amitabh Bachchan, who had the same hairstyle all through."

Experts hold Aamir Khan responsible for the latest trend. His Dil Chahta Hai look sparked off the trend. But he has changed it completely in Mangal Pandey. Aamir calls it the demand of the character, but companies and hair stylists are laughing their way to the bank.

Binaifer Pardiwalla,L'Oreal Professional, says film stars are playing a significant role in taking the products to the consumer. "When Aishwarya (the brand ambassador of L'Oreal) speaks people take her word seriously."

In this barrage of chemicals, our household henna, shikakai and amla are facing a race against commercials. "We are not denying the importance of herbs but they suit a particular type of hair. Henna may be good for oily hair but not for all hair types," says Binaifer. She admits positioning the brand in front of herbs is difficult.

Jawed believes the home remedies won't lose out. "It's only in the metros that people have paucity of time. In small towns people still rely on them and get the results. This, however, doesn't mean that colour is harmful for the hair. It's a myth that it turns the hair grey or that ammonia is bad for the hair. The substitutes for ammonia are even stronger. Colour does make the hair dry, but with proper conditioning and serum use it could be overcome," he says.


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