Dandruff can affect around 50% of adults. Until recently, a fungus called Malassezia was considered the main microbial culprit of this irritating scalp condition. We talk to three Unilever R&D scientists about their research, which suggests bacteria also have a role to play.
How it started
Clear made its debut as a small anti-dandruff shampoo brand in Italy in 1975. Back then it was sold as Clinic, before re-launching as Clear in 1982 and reaching markets all over the world.
Specialising in scalp care technology developed by scientists at the Clear Institute in Paris, Clear became the first shampoo brand to address recurrent dandruff by treating the scalp.
The brand’s pioneering work to explore the difference between male and female scalp biology led to a new wave of customised solutions. Acting on the insight that men’s scalps produce 60% more sebum than women’s, Clear created targeted products to deliver rapid, long-lasting dandruff prevention, and dermatologists endorsed its results.
From the outset, Clear broke the mould for anti-dandruff shampoo advertising, standing out from competitors by featuring celebrities in commercials and focusing on resilience and results rather than the fear of flakes.
How it’s going
Clear has grown consistently for the past three years (post-pandemic) and is now the world’s No.1 male shampoo brand, and the No.1 anti-dandruff shampoo in three of Unilever’s biggest haircare markets: South-East Asia, Brazil and Turkey.
Sold in more than 60 markets across the globe, Clear has evolved beyond dandruff removal to address holistic scalp problems. It’s an authority on all types of scalp care, with products in the range addressing a spectrum of consumer needs from deep cleansing, nourishment, itchy scalp and grease to sophisticated new treatments which help prevent hair fall from the roots.
Designed by scalp care experts, every product in the portfolio combines unbeatable dandruff performance with clinically proven scalp skincare technology to boost resilience against internal and external scalp aggressors.
As the first brand to introduce customised anti-dandruff solutions for men, Clear has been leading the expansion of the male shampoo category with strong results. The brand’s entire core men’s shampoo line is now enriched with sunflower seed oil and glycine, ingredients designed to strengthen men’s weaker scalp skin barrier and help prevent recurring dandruff.
Worldwide, Clear’s best-seller is the Clear Men Cool Sport Menthol shampoo, a product designed to remove, resist and prevent dandruff while providing a cooling sensation that keeps the hair and scalp feeling fresh.
And Cristiano Ronaldo, renowned as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has been a Clear spokesman for many years and collaborated with the brand to co-create the Clear Men Legend Shampoo by CR7 – a product advertised as the ‘best-ever Clear shampoo for men’.
The purpose that powers it
Growing social anxiety, especially performance anxiety, is affecting young people’s mental wellbeing all over the world. It impacts their stress levels, their confidence – and their scalp health.
That’s why Clear is a brand built on clear-head confidence – and its purpose is all about empowering people with a clear head and boosting their performance in life.
Recurring scalp problems are more than skin deep. They can worsen social anxiety, while daily stress may also trigger dandruff and scalp problems. It’s a cycle which Clear wants to empower everyone to break, so they can face anxiety head-on and perform at their best.
Clear’s approach goes beyond simply eliminating dandruff. Its formulas also focus on preventing its return, promoting a problem-free, fresh, resilient scalp.
The brand’s ads are a source of empowerment, not anxiety, recognising that stereotypes can contribute to feelings of anxiety and perpetuate negative self-perception. That’s why Clear’s communications don’t depict people embarrassed by their dandruff or scalp conditions. The conversation is more around taking action and feeling confident in Clear’s proven efficacy.
Clear has also partnered with the Resilience Research Centre since 2021 on its Clear Head Project – an initiative designed to empower young people who are navigating an epidemic of anxiety. The goal: equipping them with self-efficacy, enabling them to manage challenging emotions and, as a result, experience reduced dandruff.
Clear relaunched its purpose in China earlier this year with a music video starring pop singer and Clear ambassador Jackson Yi. The film received more than 200 million impressions and attracted engagement from over 1 million fans during a live-stream launch event.
Watch the video below.
Niacinamide-boosted anti-dandruff shampoo
Clear recently launched the first clinically proven anti-dandruff formula powered by niacinamide concentrate, delivering 100% protection against returning dandruff.
Clear’s core range has now been upgraded to include this key ingredient, inspired by functional skincare, to repair and strengthen the scalp’s skin barrier. In doing so, the scalp benefits from stronger protection against recurring dandruff so it’s not just using an anti-microbial to remove the flakes, it’s also providing longer-term results to keep dandruff at bay.
Backed by scientific trials, this new formula is proven to reduce dandruff return in 28 days.
Ultra performance formula for men
Engineered specifically for men, who tend to have a greasier, weaker scalp than women and usually wash their hair more often, Clear’s core Men’s range was formulated by Unilever scalp scientists to include a unique combination of potent and nourishing skincare ingredients.
Men’s more frequent hair washing typically removes vital nutrients from the scalp, leaving it at risk of dryness. Clear’s mix for men features glycine, sunflower seed oil and niacinamide as well as amino acids. Together this exclusive technology not only helps to remove flakes, but also soothes and strengthens men’s scalp protection against recurring dandruff.
Preventing hair fall from the scalp with proven results
With more than 50 years of research on hair and scalp biology, Clear is perfectly placed to help address hair fall by going beyond the strands. Instead, its solutions focus on the foundation of our hair: the scalp.
The brand’s new Clear Men Scalp Pro Anti Hair Fall and Clear Scalpceuticals Hair Fall Resist lines are the first Unilever haircare products to have a special cosmetics licence in China, meaning they meet extremely strict criteria in terms of efficacy and claims. The products are clinically proven to reduce hair fall from the scalp within 30 days. [ ] First launched in China in August 2022, they have since reached Thailand, Turkey and Brazil in 2023, delivering differentiated scalp care with two powerful ingredients developed by Unilever scientists: DynoxidilTM and FollilockTM.
DynoxidilTM is a potent anti-hair fall technology which combines root strengthening zinc salt with an active follicle revitalisation ingredient: yeast peptides extract. By deeply penetrating hair follicles, it enhances follicle structural integrity for stronger root anchorage and delivers nourishment to follicle cells. It’s clinically proven to revitalise hair follicles and promote faster growing hair.
FollilockTM is an advanced, lab-derived and clinically proven anti-hair fall mixture that forms the foundation of a healthy scalp care routine. The scalp care ingredient (piroctone olamine) combined with root strengthening zinc salt in the shampoo not only strengthens the scalp barrier and encourages the healthy growth of hair, but also rebalances proteolytic activity [ ], involved in hair shedding to help reduce excessive hair loss. When combined with DynoxidilTM, anti-hair fall benefits are enhanced. FollilockTM is clinically proven to effectively reduce hair fall after 30 days by strengthening hair anchorage to the scalp. [ ]
Source: Euromonitor International Limited, Beauty and Personal Care 2023 ed, Retail Value Sales (RSP) 2022 data.
According to five clinical studies conducted by Intertek in China on 122 females in 2020; Sino-German Union Cosmetic Institute (SGCI) on 41 females and 19 males in 2021; SGCI on 60 males in 2021; SGCI on 40 females and 20 males in 2021; Guangzhou Quality Supervision and Testing Institute on 71 males in 2021.
Proteolytic enzymes (proteases) are enzymes involved in the hair shedding process. They can break down follicle structure proteins holding hair root anchored to the scalp.
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