Shifts in consumer search behavior are creating stiff competition for legacy hair care brands. Less than half of Google Hair Care searches specify a brand, while search volumes for ingredients like keratin and tea tree oil are climbing, opening an opportunity for independent startups. The top brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Hair Care & Color put digital first and experiment with new social products, mobile shopping solutions, and personalization.
1. L’Oréal Paris
Digital IQ: 164
One of the first brands to experiment with auto-play video ads on Pinterest, L’Oréal also flaunts its video strengths on YouTube, where its “100 Years of Hairstyles” video received 8.5 million views in three months. The brand’s hair-specific Instagram further boosts social engagement, while a heavy focus on high-volume hair styling terms drives site traffic.
Digital IQ: 147
Garnier bids on ingredient-oriented search queries like “how to use coconut oil for hair” to benefit from their increasing popularity. The brand also uses Snapchat to promote products, successfully leveraging Discover Story ads and lenses, and boosts brand visibility by partnering with Amazon.
Digital IQ: 142
Clairol is the most visible brand in YouTube search for unbranded queries, linking related videos to promote cross-traffic and increase views. The brand is also best-in-class for mobile search, providing deep links to on-site content like Hair Color Tips & Trends as well as a direct link to the brand’s app.
4. Shea Moisture
Digital IQ: 141
Shea Moisture benefits from outsize vlogger mentions and scores high search visibility for multicultural hair terms, especially through PLAs from retail partners. Major investments in on-site guided selling include live chat and an ingredient library, while retailer collaborations ramp up visibility.
Digital IQ: 138
Dove takes an original approach to navigation with its prominent Explore Solutions tab, which recommends products based on fill-in-the-blank responses. The brand also scores the most video views on YouTube, and its successful Real Beauty campaign focuses on lifestyle content.
Digital IQ: 135
Matrix drives site traffic with a keyword-packed blog, optimizing the site for search. The sophisticated salon locator lets users filter results by product line and specialty, and the brand’s organic search visibility for hair color terms has surged by an impressive 42 percentage points since last year’s study.
7. Carol’s Daughter
Digital IQ: 132
Carol’s Daughter’s content-rich product pages demonstrate seamless mobile optimization, with features including full-screen videos, a return-to-top button, and collapsible content. The company also garners 16 times more Facebook interactions than the average Index brand, despite only posting four times more frequently.
Digital IQ: 131
Redken is the top brand in the Index for earned media and one of the most frequently mentioned brands on YouTube, Instagram, and multiple hair-focused forums. Its tutorials on tackling curly hair show up high in the YouTube search results for multicultural terms.
Digital IQ: 129
Aveda is the most visible brand on YouTube for hair styling terms and is also one of the top brands on Pinterest, where it owns multiple boards for specific hair types and colors.The sophisticated e-commerce experience on mobile includes single-page checkout and expedited payment options, and offers of deluxe samples and travel size products further encourage purchase.
Digital IQ: 129
Suave accounts for the largest share of desktop impressions in the Index, with ads that consistently appear on high-quality sites while maintaining low CPM. The brand also leverages its popular Evaus campaign across social platforms, working with influencers to increase reach on YouTube and Instagram.