L'Oreal Hair Color

L'Oreal Hair Color - Past, Present, and Future

L'Oreal Hair Color has a Rich History but Faces Challenges in the Future - especially in the dynamic professional salon environment where they will have to keep up with new innovators and changing demands from salon professionals.
L'Oreal Hair Color has a Rich History but Faces Challenges in the Future - especially in the dynamic professional salon environment where they will have to keep up with new innovators and changing demands from salon professionals.

The L'Oreal Company

L'Oreal got its start in hair color as early as 1907. L'Oreal's founder, Eugène Schueller was actually a French chemist who first developed a hair dye formula called Auréole. Today, L'Oreal is a multi-national company which markets over 500 brand and many thousands individual products within the health and beauty industry.

L'Oréal Group has its corporate headquarters in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, near Paris. L'Oréal USA is headquartered in New York. The company sells a wide variety of products including:

The company's products are found in a wide variety of distribution channels, from hair salons and perfumeries to hyper - and supermarkets, health/beauty outlets, pharmacies and direct mail.

In the company's last public filing, they had over 60,000 employees worldwide and made $2.6 billion in profit on $19.8 billion in sales. L'Oreal was ranked 353rd in the Fortune Global 500 list.

Challenges in the Professional Hair Color Market

The size of L'Oreal makes it synonymous with "Big Beauty". This presents challenges to overcome as L'Oreal struggles to provide salons with product lines that differentiate the salon experience from the alternative of simply coloring your hair at home. This has been an increasingly tough problem form L'Oreal as they have traditionally diverted once salon-only products to sell through their retail distribution channels like drugstores and department stores. This trend, called salon product diversion, is particularly troublesome for salon professionals who previously paid a healthy premium for the same products and build up loyal clients around the brands. Once the brands are available on-the-cheap from the corner drugstore, the salon professional inevitably loses clients.

This trend of salon product diversion by L'Oreal is not one that is likely to change anytime soon. Indeed less than 15% of their annual revenue comes from their professional channel while the majority of the remaining 85% comes from their retail or consumer business according to their last public filing.

Also, L'Oreal has been facing challenges that it must overcome in their professional hair color business with social and environmental responsibility. As consumers and salon professionals become more conscious of their impact on society and the environment, they are demanding the same from their product manufacturers. L'Oreal has a blemished history of performing animal testing and has been ridiculed by organizations like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and other groups for such activities. Also, L'Oreal has a history of racial discrimination in hiring practices and advertising.

As the L'Oreal company continues to enjoy impressive sales growth, company executives have begun to make steps in the right direction. L'Oreal has recently announced that it intends on being cruelty-free by 2013.

L'Oreal INOA

In 2009, L'Oreal introduced it INOA (Innovative No-Ammonia) hair color line as a response to the increasing organic trend in the professional salon market. The INOA line, which has proven to be quite popular, replaces ammonia with an ingredient called etethanolamine which is both colorless and orderless but is still toxic. While stylist and colorist have been happy with INOA and its ability to get the smell of ammonia out of the hair-coloring process; they have been quite disappointed to learn that ammonia is contained in the required pre and post shampoos.

Hair Color Alternatives

While INOA is an excellent product, one more socially conscious and environmentally friendly professional-only salon hair color line is Organic Color Systems. This completely ammonia-free, permanent, salon-only, professional hair color line contains certified organic ingredients and is 100% certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) as being vegan and cruelty-free. The full-color line included 67 intermixable colors and is priced well below the L'Oreal Professional hair colors. Organic Color Systems does not contain any ammonia in any product of its entire line.

Organic Color Systems is a lines that will never be sold in drugstores and is 100% non-diverted. The active ingredient of the color that replaces ammonia is cocamide, a naturally occurring fatty-acid derived from coconut oil. Organic Color Systems is sold exclusively by Organic Salon Systems throughout the United States and Canada.

Providing an alternative to Big Beauty products fills an important niche for the salons that seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive market place.

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Comments 8 comments

Kimberly 6 years ago

I am very sick and tired of L'Oreal and others diverting their products. Their products are not even that good and if it wasn't for us stylist building up their brands, they would not be bought by anyone!

Melissa Aniston 6 years ago

L'Oreal is one of the largest perpetrators of animal testing abuses in the world. These pompous French elitist snub their noses at us hairdressers and salon owners as they abuse animals and soak us for our cash before selling their products to our corner drugstore. I have boycotted all L'Oreal products and suggest that anyone who cares about animal rights does the same!

Jack Honoway 5 years ago

Are there any active boycotts against L'Oreal? I am an animal rights advocate and am steadfastly against animal cruelty and experimentation. I would certainly join such a boycott.

De. Douglas Howard MD 5 years ago

Your description, or exclamation as it were, is completely flawed or lacks any credibility whatsoever. Ammonia Hydroxide is simply ammonia with a small amount of water mixed in it. That's it. It's that simple. Do you really think that ammonia effectively is gone by "getting used up" when applied to hair to adjust a Ph level? That's simply not how it works.

INOA also has ammonia in the oil. I am a research consultant who has been retained by an attorney working on a class action suit against a large number of targeted salons and L'Oreal themselves on behalf of dozens of people have been damaged by this misrepresentation of advertising. Frankly, things don't look good for the salons and L'Oreal,

Sarah Richardson 5 years ago

Hi, this is for Douglas Howard, I am in my 2nd year doing Foundation Degree in Arts Small (Salon) Business Management. One assignment on product science has my research all dried up. None of the top named (including LOreal) will reply. I basically need to find out what difference is between Professional and Commercial lines in colours/styling products etc. If LOreal produces a new blond in a home-box colour,what's the difference in that and what a salon uses in LOreal? Please any help I would be very grateful.

Carl Peters 5 years ago


In my 25 years of teaching chemistry I don't think I have ever come across a more misguided and irresponsible explanation especially your mis-application and clear misunderstanding of Bronster-Lowry theory. Ammonia is a very weak base and water is a very weak acid. In fact, water is only considered a base in this reaction simply because it is able to donate a hydrogen ion to ammonia. The result is merely a conjugate acid-base pair and not one that "destroys" the base...in your words.

In simplistic terms, what you are describing is that any ammonia reacted with water will not contain any ammonia at all and any of the ammonia's dangerous qualities would simply be "destroyed". Do you have any idea how non-credible, irresponsible, and silly this sounds?

Let me assure anyone who is reading this. Ammonia, when mixed with water, is just as dangerous as pure ammonia and is only less dangerous simply because it is watered down. Don't listen to Sherrie and mix a little bit of ammonia with a bottle of household ammonia and make drinking water assuming all the ammonia is "destroyed" because it is not.

Sherrie, please go back to High School chemistry class and then come sit through my courses. I assure you one of my students would have never made such a ridiculous assertion. I can only hope that some L'Oreal sales representative gave you such malarky!

Juna 5 years ago

WARNING: If you are at all ammonia sensitive, DO NOT USE INOA. I speak from experience. Somebody, if not the stylist or the rep, at least the company, is LYING. There is ammonia in INOA. Period.

Mags Kavanaugh 4 years ago

L'Oreal has destroyed the salon industry, by stealing money out of salon owner pockets by putting their products like Matrix, Redken and all of their other brands into every supermarket.

I worked for Clairol which made Logics, then Logics waswas bought by Matrix and I left Matrix/Logics after L'Oreal bought both companies. 2 months after I left L'Oreal fired over 4000 Educators from all the brands, just because we were at the top of our field & making too much money I guess, now if you want education you have to go to NYC and pay thousands to get it from the company.

So you better be a very rich stylists to use their color as you'll be on your own trying to learn it!!!~ It's all about the all the mighty dollar. L'Oreal was sued by a distributor because L'Oreal was dispensing products to CVS, Sam's Club and lying about it, L'Oreal lost that suit, but they haven't been stopped.

L'Oreal's INOA proabably has MEA -Monoethanlinamine which is an ammonia subsitute. When I educate I have a fit when I see salons still promote L'Oreal, they are shooting themselves in the foot!

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