Matrix Wants You to Walk Into Their Salons and Know Someone Can Do Your Hair

Hair-care giant Matrix is rebranding, and a major part of its overhaul is making serious moves to address the simple fact that the country is getting increasingly more diverse. Especially with more people embracing their naturally curly and kinky textures, from a business standpoint, it's more crucial now than ever for hair-care brands to make sure that everyone's hair-care needs are served. To be sure that Matrix is addressing this demand, it's rethinking the way it approaches formulating its products and how the stylists that work in its salons are trained. 

Enter the "Hair Diversity Matrix," a hair typing system the brand's product developers and hairstylists will adhere to from now on. Covering the straightest to the kinkiest textures, it acts as a key of sorts that the brand's hairstylists and scientists will use to create products and service customers in its salons — no matter what their hair texture is. 

The system, created in collaboration with internal labs, hairstylists, and the brand's education community, consists of four key dimensions:

  • Level: From dark to light
  • Underlying Pigment: Ranging from red to yellow
  • Diameter: From fine to coarse
  • Pattern: From straight to zig-zag

These categories will be used where they apply across Matrix's entire product range as well as the in-salon education of its stylists. Part of the goal is to make sure each and every stylist knows how to work with all hair types, and ensure that the Matrix products they use on (and eventually, suggest to) clients are appropriately efficacious for their color and texture. 

Allure sat down with Amer Alkahwaji, VP of research and innovation development, and Shane Wolf, U.S. global president of L'Oréal Professional brands, to get to the root (pun intended) of the Hair Diversity Matrix and how the brand developed and tested the new system — and what that means for Matrix customers.

Matrix's scientists got down to the nitty-gritty studying various hair textures to see what each needed in order to thrive to specialize their formulas accordingly. The point was not only to create products that can be used on all textures but also ones that work equally well across the board for everyone — even in those products that can be used on multiple hair types.

The pillars of The Diversity Matrix came as part of a collaboration between Matrix's  15,000-plus stylists and 20 chemists. "These dimensions are the most relevant when it comes to coloring, cutting, and styling the hair, which makes them critical in guiding our innovation and education," Wolf notes.

The term "levels" indicates how light or dark the hair is, while "underlying pigment" refers to the tones that emerge when you start to lift color from the hair, usually ranging from shades of red to yellow. "Diameter," under this system, refers to the hair being fine or coarse, and "pattern" speaks to what the strands look like, whether they're super straight or they zigzag. 

Of course, there are plenty of other factors that come into play when you're thinking about how to treat, care for, and work with hair — density and porosity being two big ones — but for Matrix, these are the aspects it's most mindful of during product development. "When it comes to cutting, coloring, and styling the hair, they're what needs to be considered, and [are what] we educate our hairdressers on," Wolf explains. 

One thing to note, though — part of having a healthy head of hair is making sure your scalp is taken care of. The parameters Matrix is putting in place address the actual hair, but as New York City-based dermatologist Hadley King notes, there are other things to think about in your regimen. "When it comes to shampoos and some other products, it's also important to consider the scalp — [if it's] oily or dry, prone to dandruff, etc," she says. That means the Hair Diversity Matrix works particularly well for styling and coloring products — which work mainly on your actual strands of hair — but is not as relevant for products that are used on the scalp or specifically address scalp concerns which, in turn, can lead to healthier-looking hair. Overall, however, King says, "This does seem like a reasonable system" for product development.

The folks at Matrix went through tests on hair swatches to make sure the formulations were addressing hair needs accordingly. Whether you're bleaching your hair or simply spraying it with a leave-in, Matrix's team made sure they were creating formulas that performed across all types. For example, Wolf notes that a common concern for many people with curly hair (along with things like dryness and brittleness) is pattern retention. No one wants their curl type to switch up on them out of nowhere, so all the products meant to be used on curly hair were created to help you maintain your pattern, whether or not you're using that particular product for the purpose of curl definition.

Ultimately, "the Hair Diversity Matrix is meant to simplify the process for the salon owner and stylist, allowing them to use the same products to service all hair types and textures," Wolf explains. As for consumers, he says they will notice the change through "marketing, influencer representation, and campaign imagery." That, and the comfort of knowing when you walk into a Matrix salon, there will be someone to hook your hair up, no matter what texture it is. Oh, and the products the stylist suggests will actually work for you.

Matrix's newly-formulated products and educational system are rolling out as you read this. While there won't be any indication on the labels for consumers as to The Diversity Matrix, the brand says its promotional imagery and overall branding will indicate to users which hair products were made specifically for them. 

Diversity in hair-care is a lot more than just putting someone with Type 4 hair in a campaign. It's about understanding what that Type 4 — or 3, or 2 — hair really needs to look its best and making sure those needs are met. Though we do think it would be helpful for Matrix to make its classification system more of a front-facing endeavor, what they're doing now seems to be a step in the right direction.

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