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Innovation made in Europe – Kao launches global hair dye novelty

Kao has developed an innovative hair dye technology at its European Research Laboratories in Darmstadt. An industry first, the technology uses a new generation of physical dye molecules that dye the hair in a completely new way and thereby deliver multi-dimensional, high-definition shine and long lasting brilliance whilst being gentle to both the hair and scalp. The so-called HD3 dye technology was developed jointly with Kao Labs in Japan, with experts in photographic dyes from Fujifilm and an eminent authority in dye synthesis from Technische Universität Dresden. Goldwell @Pure Pigments, will be the first salon-exclusive product based on the new technology and was launched globally in 2018.

Setting new standards in product performance and safety

The innovative molecular structure of HD³ dye technology enables unique properties as a dye for hair based on a completely new, non-reactive dye system. Thanks to the small molecular size and the special distribution of the electrical charge, the HD³ dyes penetrate the hair by forming a concentrated ring of color around the outer region of the hair´s core (cortex). In combination with regular oxidative hair dyes, this creates a multi-layer dyeing effect that interacts with light, leading to vibrant color results with truly multi-dimensional shine. Furthermore, the dyes have high fade resistance, while also being extra gentle to the skin and hair structure. The EU Commission has confirmed that HD³ dye technology has very low allergy potential.

Cross-sector, cross-disciplinary collaboration led to success

With the ambitious goal of creating a groundbreaking hair dye technology in mind, Kao initiated a collaboration that is unique in the industry. A group of Kao hair specialists from Darmstadt and Tokyo teamed up with world leading experts in photographic dye molecular design and synthesis from Fujifilm in Japan. The collaborative research team was further strengthened by Professor Horst Hartmann, a globally renowned expert in advanced dye synthesis from Technische Universität Dresden. Over the course of 17 years, the team designed, synthesized, and tested more than 1,000 new color molecules before finalizing the HD3 dye technology. “This joint research success with Fujifilm and TU Dresden confirmed our belief that breakthrough innovation only comes from a strong, multi-disciplinary co-creation process,” Dominic Pratt, Vice President R&D at Kao European Research Laboratories Darmstadt, explains, who has managed the project from the very beginning. “It’s important to look beyond core competencies by fostering strong partnerships with experts from other industries as well as academia. Breakthrough ideas come with interdisciplinary approaches.”

High innovation power in Europe

To successfully complete the project, Kao did not only benefit from 130 years of industry knowledge, but also the 1,800 years of joint research experience at the European R&D Lab in Darmstadt, Germany – added up, this is the experience that the 110 researchers and 20 professional stylists in Dominic Pratt’s team bring to the table. Annually, they develop more than 300 new products and enable around 12,000 technology, product, and tool tests. Despite its Japanese origin and international partner network, Kao feels at home in Europe. “As a research-driven company with more than 2,800 researchers globally, Kao benefits from the innovation power of the science and technology location in Darmstadt, the synergies arising from it and the promising talent the region in the middle of Europe attracts”, says Dr. Dominic Pratt.

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