In America, one of the key experiences of being a Black woman is having someone do your hair. Many would wait hours in the hair salons to get their hair groomed into their own personal hairstyles. The hair salon was one of the original places where Black women would hear about new hair products, learn all the community gossip, and discover all of the latest trends. As a result, there was a genuine trust between the hairstylists and their customers when it came to hair and products.
Black Girl Magic
Today, many Black women take a right of passage to the local beauty supply stores. Being cultural trendsetters, Black women change their hair from wigs to braids, to silk-presses, to even going natural. They come out of the beauty supply store with bags of products perfect for their new dos. Personally, I remember going to the store with my mom at a young age for ‘Just for Me’ Kiddie Perm. Black women spend so much of their time and money on their hair, different hairstyles, products, and it’s upkeep. Therefore, this makes us an essential part of the beauty industry’s haircare market.
In a Nielsen report called the ‘Black Impact: Consumer Categories Where African Americans Move Markets’, African American consumers have spent $473 million of the $4.2 billion dollar hair industry while making up only 14 percent of the U.S. population. Key celebrity icons like Rihanna and Beyonce would popularize new beauty trends based on their own hairstyles. Black women in my own community would adopt the same hairstyles as those celebrities. During her Unapologetic Era, Rihanna rocked her hair with shaved sides in 2012. Beyonce’s signature golden-brown hair has been styled different ways since her DC days. From these examples, many brands are failing to realize our power with money and the style it comes with it.
The Natural Hair Movement
The innovation and reintroduction of the natural hair movement from Black 4c hair types have expanded into a huge industry. The power of the natural hair movement began as a way to fight against the preconceived views of ‘good hair’. It has the echoes of the Black Is Beautiful movement created in the 1960s and the Western popularization of other styles such as Rastafarian-inspired locs in the 1980s. As many began on their natural hair care journeys, innovative brands like Shea Moisture (started in 1991) and Carol’s Daughter (started in 1993) began to form and spread as a resource to the movement in the Black community.
The innovation of those brands sparked more brands like Mielle Organics, Curls, Camille Rose Naturals and others that began to meet the demands for curly hair products. The more demand that the brands received, it showed how serious the movement was becoming. Top retailers like Target, Sally Beauty, and Walmart, began to place them inside of their retail stores. Later, big industry leaders began to acquire natural hair companies like Unilever acquiring Shea Moisture’s parent company, Sundial Brands, in 2017. L’Oreal USA branch acquired Carol’s Daughter in 2014. Other corporations like Procter & Gamble (P&G) began adding natural lines to their haircare brands like Pantene’s Gold Series Collection. Other corporations began to expand their campaigns on social media such as L’Oreal Paris branch’s Dark & Lovely launch with new colored hair spays. The need for demand was created by Black customers in our community through the power of the Black dollar.
The Original Trendsetters
Black people are the trendsetters across industries. It is important to realize how powerful we are to the haircare industry. According to the Nielsen report, ‘African-American Women: Our Science, Her Magic’, “62 percent of Black women agree that they enjoy wandering a store looking for new, interesting products”. Black women also love to share their favorite products with their friends and get recommendations. There is always something new to try and this is how the natural hair care movement took off.
Today, more Black women get their product advice from their favorite influencers, bloggers, and YouTubers. From watching tutorials on Youtube to seeing the daily life of their favorite Instagram influencers. Black women are consistently keeping up to date with the latest news. “Black women spend more weekly time using apps and browsing the web on smartphones (19 hours and 27 minutes) than total women (17 hours and eight minutes),” according to Nielson. Our evolution of Black beauty, content, and trends are all connected to our active community. As we spend our dollars, we need to be aware of who is taking them and dedicating back into us. Black entrepreneurship is on the rise. Supporting our own is just as important as being creatives. As we grow as a community, we should buy for us, by us. We are the original trendsetters after all.