Love her or loathe her, Cheryl Cole is creating a lasting impression – on sales of hairspray.
The fortunes of the hair grooming product, long blighted by its association with less than chi-chi salons and its environmental impact, has been reversed – and Cole's "big hair" is being credited.
Beauty experts say Cole, who returned to TV screens last night as an X Factor judge, is the biggest single reason hairspray has soared in popularity. Hairdressers also credit scientific advances that have improved the product and overhauled its old helmet-head image.
Mark Hill, the celebrity hairdresser who styles Agyness Deyn and Mischa Barton, said: "Hairspray is now much better to use. It gives great hold and can be easily brushed out. It can also be used for a variety of styles.
"In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was a return to more natural products, and people tried to use less hairspray as they thought of the ozone layer. However, in recent years, there has been a complete return to glamour, and the trend for big, bouncy hair has meant that hairspray is now an essential again."
Elnett, owned by L'Oréal, is the UK's best-selling brand. Launched in Britain nearly four decades ago, it saw the value of its sales rise 14 per cent to £30.2m in the 12 months to June. Quickly recognising the sales impact of the Girls Aloud singer, the French company, which sells 20 cans a minute, launched a limited edition can with Cole's picture on it. In just two months, the "Chel-nett" version accounted for one-fifth of all bottles of Elnett sold in Superdrug.
Annabel Jones, contributing editor at Grazia, said: "Our love affair with big hair is almost singlehandedly down to the Cheryl Cole effect. When she appeared as an X Factor judge, Cheryl's bouncy backcombed mane and sparkling smile were a welcome antidote to the looming recession. Her big-hair obsession shows no sign of slowing down. Even the fashion industry has followed suit. At the autumn-winter shows, models were on the catwalk with immaculately coiffed styles that hark back to the days when women would set their hair in rollers. Luckily for us, sprays that once left hair stiff and sticky have made way for shine-boosting, multi-tasking formulas."
Superdrug said demand for hairspray is up 20 percent. Simon Comins, director of toiletries, said: "As we head into the autumn and winter party season, the only way is up for sales." He also credited a "new return to retro styling, as seen in Mad Men" for boosting demand.
Market data showed sales of hairspray hit £97.8m in the year to May, a rise of 6 per cent, according to the research firm Kantar Worldpanel. It is the first time in 10 years that sales have increased.