Aura, a new brand born out of eSalon, aims to tackle the personalized hair-care segment with the addition of semi-permanent pigments.

Aura’s product lineup includes shampoos, conditioners and hair masks personalized for a customer’s hair needs and “goals,” which has become a buzzword among customizable brands. Semi-permanent dye is an additional feature of the product, allowing users to more easily alter their hair color temporarily through a shower. There are over 100,000 formula and shade possibilities, including fantasy colors like purple or fuchsia. The launch of Aura stands as an intersection of developments within the at-home hair dye and personalized hair-care categories.

The first is the shift toward at-home hair dye and away from salons, initially due to Covid-19 salon closures. According to a Garnier survey of 2,000 women, one in three women dyed their hair at home for the first time during quarantine, and more than a third of women (37.2%) tried a color they may not have otherwise tried because they were at home. The second development is the maturity of and increased competition in the personalized hair-care space. In Dec. 2020, Function of Beauty expanded to Target, and competitor Gemmist and its owner Gemma Labs raised $2.75 million in funding in January.

“We wanted to do more and address a bigger market,” said Graham Jones, eSalon CEO. “We didn’t want only to target women 35 and older, who are going grey and trying to achieve her natural shade. We wanted a custom product that can help everybody.”

Aura is not the first sub-brand from eSalon, which is a direct-to-consumer customized permanent hair-dye brand, as the company launched men’s hair-dye brand Colorsmith in June 2020. At the time, Jones said that Colorsmith was expected to contribute 5-10% of eSalon’s total revenue. ESalon topline sales grew by 60% in 2020, Jones added. Aura is expected to drive 20-30% of the company’s revenue in the first year. Henkel bought a 51% share of eSalon in 2019.

To receive a formula, customers take a 25-question online quiz on AuraHairCare.com, which asks about their hair type, what they want to achieve and their overall lifestyle. Customers can also virtually try-on hair shades using augmented reality. Aura’s core target audience is people interested in fantasy shade options and people with curly hair, as well as eSalon’s own core demo of people 35-year-old and older who want to maintain or refresh their existing dyed color.

Each product costs $28, which is $6 more than Madison Reed and eSalon’s permanent at-home dye, and the trio of a 10 oz. shampoo and conditioner and a 8 oz. hair mask is $28 more than Function of Beauty’s trio of an 8-ounce shampoo, conditioner and hair mask.

Aura was first teased at CES in January, given the technical specifications required to create Aura. According to Rabih Zaouk, Aura vp of research and development, custom hardware and software had to be designed to create the formulas and dispense them into the bottles. The key digital pillars of the brand’s launch will include organic posts and paid ads across Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and Google. The predominant social media strategy relies on an influencer network of 15 paid and 35 unpaid micro- and mega-influencers, and 100 “ambassadors” who receive affiliate payments. ESalon and Colorsmith will also announce the launch on their LinkedIn pages.

“From a branding and storytelling perspective, we are saying there’s no need to compromise,” said Vera Koch, Aura vp of global marketing. “Oftentimes, especially people with curly, fine and frizzy hair will say that many pigmented brands or blonde and purple toning shampoos will make their hair feel very dry and brittle.”