Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a redhead. Blame it on Lindsay Lohan in her teen queen heyday, or Hayley Williams’s punk-rock mullet, or, as I’ve gotten older, Julianne Moore’s perfect garnet hue. Whichever the case may be, I’ve always wished that my perfectly fine dark brown hair looked more like that. Or, at least, in theory — never enough to commit to the lightening process it would take to actually achieve the color.
Over the years, I’ve tried just about every temporary color-depositing product on the market. Each time, as I watched the color-stained water circle the drain, my dreams of livin’ la vida Lohan went right down with it. My (admittedly almost black) hair was just too dark to get the look I so desperately wanted. That was until I tried Aura Hair Care.
A newbie on the custom hair care market, Aura makes individual formulas specific to each user. The process is simple: you take a quick, easy quiz that asks typical questions like your age, hair type, and main concerns. But here’s where it get’s interesting: at the end of the quiz, you are given the option to add a “color enhancing pigment” to your conditioner. These are broken down into two categories: Fantasy (your pinks and purples, etc.) and Classic, meant to enhance natural color with a rich pigment.
With little hope and some nagging curiosity, I selected the shade “Mahogany,” a deep, purple-leaning red. Soon after I placed my order, I received my set: a shampoo, conditioner, and mask, all personalized for me, and the latter two enriched with pigment. While the shampoo was your typical white color, both the conditioner and the mask were the color of, well, mahogany. I first tested out the mask, which should be applied with the same mindfulness and precision of your typical hair dye (read: it stains). After applying and washing as directed, I instantly noticed a red tint to my hair that wasn’t there before. Surely, I thought, this was a fluke or some misleading hopefulness? Reader, months later, I’m happy to share it was neither. Over the past month, I’ve been dutifully using the conditioner, with a mask thrown on once every 2-3 weeks, and have achieved my ideal, just-redhead-enough state. It’s the perfect at-home change: subtle enough where you can’t really mess it up, but noticeable enough that on a recent trip home, my own mother even asked, “Is your hair redder than usual?”
Here, Vera Koch, VP of Global Marketing, breaks down what makes Aura stand out from the pack, and what temporary hair trends we should all be paying attention to now.
What was the idea behind launching the brand?
Custom hair care has become a buzzword in the beauty industry in the past few years with even off-the-shelf products claiming to be custom. For more than ten years, eSalon has created truly custom hair color, and with that personalization technology and the creative minds behind the brand, expansion into truly personalized hair care with a fresh new brand felt like a natural fit.
In developing AURA, we didn’t want it to be just another custom hair line. The brand had to have a certain twist to deliver something that wasn’t offered in the market. This is where eSalon’s color expertise came in handy. With expert colorists, we were able to combine the option for temporary hair color with personalized hair care, creating a personalized hair care line the world has never seen.
With AURA being a youthful and vibrant brand, we made sure our offering of temporary pigments not only spoke to the classic shades one might expect, but also Fantasy shades, such as purples, pinks, and blues, really creating the option for our customers to experiment and try new things, while still getting premium personalized hair care.
Along with our product offering, we launched AURA with sustainability as a core pillar of our brand. This was an area where we refused to compromise, settling only for plastic bottles and jars made with 100% post-consumer recycled plastics instead, and extending that thoughtfulness into every area of our packaging.
What makes AURA stand out from other personalized hair care?
Our most colorful differentiator from personalized hair care brands is the fact that you can add one of three pigment categories into your formula — a Fantasy shade, Classic shade, or Neutralizer. You can add these pigments into your mask for a rich pigment result, or into your conditioner to help maintain the shade you’ve selected over time. We have 21 Fantasy shades (each available in three different intensities), 30 Classic shades, and three neutralizers. The best part is, you can switch it up any time you’d like, so you never have to have the same color more than once.
The way we allow you to adjust your formula is also uniquely AURA. After your first order, you’re able to truly take the reins of your formula by adjusting any element of your formula, including the specific strength of the different elements.
We’re also taking our idea of endless possibilities outside of just hair care with our recent partnership with Step Up, an organization that helps young women and girls reach their full potential through educational programs, workshops, and mentorships that include volunteer opportunities for AURA employees.
How long did it take to develop the color depositing technology/formula? What makes this more effective on dark hair than other brands?
Our R&D team perfected our color depositing technology for the better part of 2020 in our El Segundo, California headquarters. With our immediate feedback loop we have with our customers, we continue to optimize our overall client experience, including formula updates and packaging, clarity around pigment application, and updates to our Hair Care Quiz to start product education as soon as users enter our quiz.
While pigment easily deposits and is easily visible on naturally light-colored hair or pre-lightened hair, it can be tougher for customers who have a darker hair color. At AURA, we offer three intensities of our Fantasy colors, one being Bold, which is highly pigmented and deposits better on darker hair compared to other brands. With our proprietary technology, we have the ability to fine-tune our dye concentrations and can adjust the pH of each color mixture to help it better deposit in conjunction with other hair goals chosen (moisture, curl care, etc.).
What colors are you seeing users gravitating towards?
Currently, our most popular colors across all ages and demographics are both purple and pink, which reflects the overall current spring color trends in the beauty industry and has been spotted on celebrities like Demi Lovato. Our top shades in those categories are: Kyoto Purple, French Lavender, Rose Gold, and Fuji Fuschia.
We’re also seeing an increase in popularity with a few shades that don’t fall under purple and pink, like Arctic Gray and Santorini Blue. Gray hair is making a comeback, and blue has been gaining momentum with many celebrities like Hilary Duff, who have dyed their hair blue over the past year.