Brands and my hair have always had a knotty relationship — and it's not me, it's them. As a black woman with natural curly, kinky hair it was always difficult for me to find products that actually tame my mane. The only readily available options were sulfate laden, alcohol filled products that made my hair my hair look less than fabulous.
If I decided not to buy the usual suspects, Pantene, Tresseme, L’Oreal or Suave, the shampoos and conditioners that worked for me could only be bought online and were not very budget friendly. In the end I purchased them and left the major beauty brands behind.
According to an Essence magazine study, black women spend $1.2 billion annually on health and beauty products. This represents a huge chunk of the market share that major beauty brands were losing to smaller, niche brands — brands such as Carol’s Daughter, Shea Radiance and Karen’s Body Beautiful that listened to what their customers needed and wanted.
But over the past few years I’ve noticed a huge shift — major, mainstream, beauty brands have finally woken up. They're taking note of what curly-haired ladies want and need.
For example, L’Oreal has introduced products such as leave-in crèmes that are sulfate free. They have ingredients lists that don’t require a PhD in Chemistry to understand and are actually good for the specific needs of our hair. Pantene too has introduced an entire line of products specifically for curly haired needs.
And to make it even better, these products are easily available in local stores like Target, Walgreens, etc.
What major beauty brands have done, which is a lesson for all brands, regardless of category, is that they listened to what their customers needed. They didn’t lump all customers into one unit and they have now offered products that are specifically relevant to their needs.
While I haven’t left my beloved niche brands behind, I am happy that now I have choices.
Are there any brands that you feel have finally begun to listen to a part of the segment that they didn’t before? Chat with us here in the comments or in our Facebook community.
Sutanya Dacres is an Associate Consultant in Verbal Identity.