Ending Hair Care Segregation

Black Hair. White Hair. Biracial Hair.  These terms seriously irk me. They are not real and they don’t exist.  These terms focus on common stereotypes and lead the consumer to believe that they can only use products geared toward their skin color.  The devil is a lie.  

Hair is hair people.  Now there are difference in texture, type, porosity, density and elasticity but that cannot simply be drawn among color lines.  Black hair is said to be dry, tightly coiled, very dense and coarse in texture.  However these properties are not exclusive to Black hair, nor does every Black person have these properties.  White hair is said to be oily, straight, limp and fine.  Likewise,  these properties are not exclusive to White hair, nor does every White person have these properties.

Take a stroll in the beauty department in your local store.  They have a section of beauty care products and a separate section for Blacks, leading to believe that the main section is for Whites.  Moreover what if you are Asian, Latino, or Indian; you are just simply excluded.  How stupid is this?  Many in the industry agree with my observation including Miss Jessie’s founders Miko and Titi Branch who lobbied for Target to remove their products from the “Ethnic” hair section and place them with other salon products (see video here). 

The fact is I know many naturals who have found that “White products” like Aubrey Organics, Garnier Fructis and Herbal Essence have worked great on their strands.  Likewise many of my White friends have benefited from grabbing a deep conditioning treatment or a frizz fighter from the Ethnic section.  I also know that chemical lye relaxers are not used exclusively by Blacks, but are also tools of mass relaxation used by Italians, Jews, basically any person looking for a permanent reversal of their curly hair.

So what can you do? First stop using these terms yourself.  They are divisive and not helpful.  Secondly, stop limiting yourself to only use products that are marketed toward you based on broad description.  Instead look for products that are formulated with ingredients that meet your specific hair needs.  Lastly, complain to your local store about the hair product segregation and tell them to correct it.  Advise them that they should separate products based on type: natural/organic, professional grade, boutique brands, budget, etc.

Addendum: This is bigger than just hair products.  Read this article by Pepper Miller concerning segregation in other sections of the beauty department including make-up.  As she states, “Can a sista get an expresso lip pencil?’

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10 thoughts on “Ending Hair Care Segregation

  1. Kudos to you for highlighting as issue that has been ignored for too long. There is absolutely no reason that beauty products must be segregated in stores or in marketing materials either, for that matter. It’s time that consumers become educated on shopping for products based on the criteria that matters most: the ingredients and their own individual needs, not on what the advertisers and stores have decided are best for them. I’m going to intentionally check into a few of the brands that you mentioned in your article since I’ve been programmed through the years to overlook them without any good reason. Again, great article, Haley! :)

  2. The first race on this earth was black anyway so it makes sense so many people have bascially the same hair texture.

  3. So glad you posted this!! I’m in the UK and have found a lot of advice on ‘ethnic hair’ that totally fits in with what I need for so called ‘caucausian curls’ (don’t like that phrase either, but that’s another story). My hair is dense and dry and curly and I need all the help I can get. I have noticed on curly forums all users seem to be able to share tips and product recommendations with really good results. The only times you have to ask about hair properties like fine/coarse or porosity, well, as you say, that is not divided on racial lines. The natural hair info online has been invaluable to me. I have often found someone on a forum who has say fractal type 4 curls and finds same products/ techniques good as me, even though I’m more loose curls. Our hair must have other properties like dryness and texture in common and that is why it works. It is individual by individual, not Black/White. In the UK us curlies have been struggling to reassert ourselves and I’m buying products that are US imports often, just to get something that can handle dryness, curls and volume.

    so, YAY, all together, please!! And thank you again for broaching this issue!

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