At-home hair-dye sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic, driven not just by older adults hoping to cover up grays, but also by teens experimenting with a rainbow of colors.
Gen Z-oriented hair-dye brand Hally is one company hoping to cater to this younger demand. It’s the latest to jump in on Gen Z’s rising interest in at-home hair dye, driven by influencers on TikTok and Instagram. It follows brands such as XMONDO Color, Good Dye Young and Bleach London. On Tuesday, Hally launches via DTC e-commerce with three dye colors: blonde, brown and a light pink shade that has become a popular lockdown hue for teens. The dyes are foam-based, ammonia-free formulas inspired by South Korean and Japanese “bubble dye,” said the brand’s founder and CEO Kathryn Winokur. The formulas are “demi-permanent,” offering color that lasts for 4-6 weeks, which Winokur described as a “sweet spot” between drugstore semi-permanent dyes and permanent color.
“We want to be the antithesis of” legacy at-home hair-color brands, “and really be much more authentic and fun,” said Winokur. The brand has gone through a friends-and-family round of seed funding for an undisclosed amount. Winokur was inspired to start Hally when working for Walmart’s e-commerce division and one of the retailer’s interns experienced an at-home hair-dye disaster. She remembered her own mess with Sun-In in her youth.
To market the new brand, Hally is focusing on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube with paid and organic content, and is launching an influencer collaboration in the form of a new color in the coming weeks. It plans to do more collaborations and seasonal colors in the future. “An older consumer picks their hair color and then maintains it,” said Winokur. “But Gen Z is much more about experimentation and expression. It’s a very different aesthetic; it’s much more bold color.”
The pandemic has caused a spike in at-home hair dye. According to a report by Mintel, the home hair color market surpassed $2.4 billion in 2020 retail sales for a year-over-year growth rate of nearly 16%. “How to color your hair at home” was listed among the top Google search trends of 2020. Gen Z’s contribution to the increase has been their purchase of bright colors. Amazon, for example, listed pink and blue hair dye among its top-selling beauty products for 2020.
Hair dye at Lime Crime, which offers a Unicorn Hair dye in a wide range of colorful of shades, has seen “double-digit growth since the pandemic started and continues to increase month-over-month,” said the brand’s CEO Andrea Blieden. When the pandemic hit, it experienced a 218% month-on-month growth in hair-dye sales for April 2020. In 2021, its hair-dye sales are up over 60% year-over-year.
“People were at home in quarantine with nothing to do for the first time and without the fear of ‘What will my hair look like?’ because there is nowhere to go. Losing all inhibition started a hair-color craze,” said Blieden.
TikTok has been a driving force in hair-dye trends, as pink and blue shades crossed over from the “alt” or “e-girl” persona into the mainstream. TikTok queen Charli D’Amelio recently had stints with both pink and blue dye jobs. As a result, hair-dye brands have been investing in TikTok marketing.
“TikTok is huge for hair-dye trends,” said XMONDO Color founder and CEO Brad Mondo, who dyed D’Amelio’s hair pink and described the style as “e-girl hair.”
“The younger generation now is much more daring with their hair colors,” he said. “I see one girl change her hair, and then I see hundreds of girls trying to replicate that same trend on their own hair.” His brand seeds products to TikTok, Instagram and YouTube influencers, and he estimates that half of its customers are Gen Z.
“I’d say 99% of hair-dye trends are coming from TikTok,” said Becca Sievers, the marketing manager at Gen Z-focused hair-dye brand Good Dye Young. She also noted the importance of e-girl hair on the app. The brand’s TikTok account has gained 400,000 followers over the course of a year. Popular trends boosting the brand on TikTok include vibrant color blocks in the front like D’Amelio’s look, dyed bangs and split dyes. The brand saw 322% year-over-year sales growth in 2020. Its semi-permanent dye line, Lighter Daze, saw $30,000 in sales on its launch date in May 2020. The brand’s prediction for the next big color trend is orange, which is seeing significant sales growth.
“A lot of the time, influencers rock bold colors to get them more attention online,” said Mondo. “Before the influencer era, people were more unsure if they wanted to take the plunge.” And of course, there is also the chaos factor of the pandemic. “When the world is in such a disarray as it is right now, people take a lot more chances with their hair,” he said.