DID you know that women of colour are estimated to spend around five times more on haircare than other women? Yet, for decades, women with curls, coils and relaxed hair have struggled to find products that cater to their specific hair needs. Recently, however, both luxe and high street heavyweights have started pumping much needed resources into this glaringly lacking area, alongside a new wave of luxury brands created by women with curls, for women with curls. At last, there appears to be a new dawn of hair inclusivity on the horizon.
Pantene’s new Gold Series – a six-strong product range dedicated to afro hair – has launched exclusively at Superdrug as part of the chain’s brilliant #Shadesofbeauty campaign,
which promotes more diversity in their beauty offerings. Spurring on the launch was Superdrug’s significant 96% increase in annual sales of afro haircare, which subsequently inspired them to launch Black Castor & Shea Replenish – their first own-brand vegan afro haircare range based on black castor oil, shea butter and plant keratin. Since launching in January, 6.2k units have already flown off the shelves – making it one of the most successful new curl launches to date.
So, what’s taken so long? Social media has clearly played a crucial role in the movement towards inclusivity, allowing and actively encouraging frustrated curly-haired consumers to finally galvanise their voices and demands.
Thanks to Youtube and Instagram, more and more people are ditching harsh chemical relaxers (straightening techniques) in favour of embracing their natural texture. So much more than just a ‘trend’, this forms part of the #Teamnatural movement – a hashtag with over 4.7 million tags and counting*. With this comes a new wave of curl entrepreneurs, creating products that aim to nourish, enhance and protect curls and coils, from women that know what they’re talking about.
new KID on the block
Future cult classic in the making, Dizziak was created by music industry alumni and beauty journalist Loretta De Feo, after years of personal frustration. ‘I created Dizziak simply because I needed it and I got tired of waiting for someone else to do it for me. Being half-nigerian and half-italian with incredibly thick hair, I felt frustrated that I had to import hair products from the US. I wanted to be able to buy them on the high street, the same way most of my friends could. I wanted to put some love back into my hair.’ And that’s exactly what she did – in the form of her Deep Conditioner, £22, which hosts a hearty helping of quinoa protein, babassu and argan oil to properly nourish afro hair types.
Then there’s multi-award-winning afro hair stylist, Charlotte Mensah, who launched her eponymous haircare line in 2016 after 26 years of salon experience. The secret to its success? Manketti oil (otherwise known as mongongo oil) – a bona fide superfood for curls that has been used for centuries in Africa thanks to its impressive hydrating and overall regenerating properties. Comprised of a shampoo (£24), conditioner (£24) and oil (£48), the range has scooped up various awards and puts hair health first and foremost. For a deep hydration hit, book in for the Stream Treatment (from £80), which cleverly lifts the hair cuticle, allowing the potent super oil to deeply penetrate the shaft, encouraging blood flow to the scalp that stimulates healthy hair growth. You can also find this antiinflammatory oil in Shea Moisture’s Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-seal Masque, £17.99.
Remember those crunchy curls of the ’90s? Thanks to innovations in formulations they’re now a thing of the past. Subrina Kidd, textured hair specialist at the The Collective and Jennifer Hudson’s go-to stylist, explains, ‘My clients are so well educated, fuelled with knowledge and take what’s in their haircare as seriously as they would their food. They are no longer settling for products we grew up with like DAX, Blue Magic and Pink Oil, all of which are full of lanolin, petrochemicals and irritating dyes and fragrances.’
Following this green, clean and ethical approach is Bouclème founder, Michele Scott-lynch, who introduced her range using 0% sulphates, silicones, parabens, petroleum, propylene glycol, PEGS,
CURLY HAIR IS THE MOST VULNERABLE OF ALL TEXTURES
phthalates, artificial fragrances or colours. When creating the line, Michele kept on coming back to her daughters, ‘I didn’t want them to wake up every day feeling cursed, as I did for so long by not being able to readily find targeted products.’ The Intensive Moisture Treatment, £26, is particularly impressive – combining a winning mix of mafura butter and prickly pear seed oil, which doubles up as a leave-in treatment for defining coils.
Technology has played a huge part in the curl revolution, with new apps and websites putting knowledge and power in the hands of consumers. One such example is Allshadescovered.com – launched by two young business graduates after discovering how difficult it was for their family to buy afro haircare, wigs and extensions, despite being willing to spend a small fortune on great quality products. They now stock tried and tested brands such as Shea Moisture, Cantu, Aunt Jackie’s and Carol’s Daughter, and their growing Allshadescovered Instagram is packed full of information, tips and inspiration.
THE SECRET OF HYDRATION
Curly hair’s unique structure makes it the most vulnerable of all hair textures to dryness and damage from breakage. This means that supplementing hydration is absolutely paramount. When it comes to washing afro curls, the rule of thumb is to shampoo once a week or, for looser curls, every three to four days. Lupita Nyong’o’s stylist Vernon François recommends always opting for sulphatefree formulas. ‘Many traditional shampoos contain sulphates, which create a big foaming reaction, but can strip hair of natural oils making it even drier, which may lead to breakage. It’s important to choose sulphate-free formulas because they gently cleanse, are much kinder to strands and won’t dry your hair out.’ Try Big Hair And Beauty’s Clean SLS Free Shampoo, £14, which is great for sensitive scalps with soothing aloe vera and shea butter.