By Kourtney Webb
Being a curly hair girl in a straight hair world can be difficult. But more and more women have gone against society’s standards of beauty to embrace their natural coils. As women are rejoicing over their healthy tresses, companies and society have no choice but to get on board with the trend of going natural.
Black women have been returning to their natural roots and hair companies have responded to this movement by creating more products that cater to the care and styling of afro textured hair. Even the companies that traditionally target people with European hair types are making hair care lines specifically for afro textured hair such as OGX, Garnier Fructis and Pantene.
Organic Root Stimulator renamed ORS, Herbal Essence, Dark and Lovely and many other companies are also meeting the demands of curly hair customers. ORS includes more natural ingredients in their lines that are gentle on this hair type such as sulfate free, paraben free, and silicone free products.
“Products that are made with more natural ingredients are best for black hair. They keep moisture in and don’t coat the hair. Silicones block out moisture and no one wants a dry looking afro” said Nadia Smith, 25, a cosmetology student from Saint Albans, Queens.
With the natural hair movement growing, budding black entrepreneurs are introducing new brands that are constantly popping up. Meanwhile, older more established companies are playing catch up by releasing natural products of their own, according to Empower Magazine.
Along with better products, YouTubers, and bloggers have been a crucial part of the movement. For the women just starting their hair journeys YouTube and blogs have provided an abundance of information. From how to big chop (cutting off relaxed ends), to styling a wash and go and everything in between. Natural hair gurus like Taren Guy, Naptural85, Haircrush, and African Export, have been giving naturalistas enough ammo to grow the biggest of fros and healthiest of curls.
“Natural hair” is defined as Afro hair that is not chemically altered. This revolution of loving your curls does not only revolve around the African American community, but has spilled over into all communities and cultures.
Doves “Love Your Curls” campaign, reminds women and young girls with curls that your hair is beautiful and to never forget it. Dove launched the campaign after conducting a survey of 859 women in the U.S., U.K. and Brazil in September 2014. Only 10 percent of women respondents in the U.S. said they “feel proud” of their curly hair, and only 4 in 10 American girls with curly thought their hair was beautiful.
Market research firm, Mintel, estimated that the Black hair business is worth $774 million and relaxer sales are aimed to decrease 45 percent before 2019.
Natasha Turner 21, an aviation management student at York College, has been natural for five years. “Trends impact the market a lot. When more women were wearing weaves, relaxers (chemically straightening) and wigs you didn’t have as many products for black hair.”
The natural hair movement has beauty supply shops seeing less clientele in need of wigs and weaving hair. The owner of Paradise Beauty Supply (*located where( can vouch for the decline.
Paradise Beauty Supply Store has been open for six years but has been struggling to stay afloat for the past year and a half. The beauty supply store sits in a small strip mall on located on the intersection of Hollis Avenue and Francis Lewis Blvd.
Owner Walid Mehel is desperate to get business. Promising 20% off discounts on Brazilian weaving hair that has already been marked down. Bright posters and stickers fill the aisles and line the back walls with discount offers on all wigs.
“We have all types of hair, we just can’t sell it. Hair use to be a lucrative business, but not anymore,” said Walid Mehel, 36, owner of Paradise Beauty supply.
Determined not to be defeated by a fad, Mehel has stocked a section of his store dedicated to those with natural hair out there looking to grow strong healthy hair.
Wigs and weaves have not gone completely obsolete among natural women, they are just not being used as their primary hairstyles. Wigs and weaves have become protective styles for the women who want to keep their curls healthy. For different reasons most will resort to protective styling as a way to combat split ends and breakage according to the natural hair blog naturally Curly.
Protective styling is a hairstyle that shields the ends of the hair,. It keeps moisture in and protects hair from harsh weather. Low manipulation hairstyles like wigs, weaves and braids, help naturals maintain the length of their hair. And with the threat shrinkage sometimes hiding up to 90% of the actual hair length in some cases, every inch counts.
Hair texture and debate seem to mirror each other. A media frenzy surrounded radio personality Don Imus when he referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, which was comprised of eight African-American players, as “nappy headed.”
Although more and more women are living a natural lifestyle there is still controversy in accepting natural hair. In August 2014 the U.S military mended their rules on grooming known as AR670-1. Hairstyles like dreadlocks, two-strand twists, and other natural hairstyles were deemed acceptable, and the terms “matted and unkempt was removed from the guidelines. Many consider the change a small step considering the women who are affected by the rule are willing to die for their country. Styles including afros were banned in an effort to “maintain uniformity within a military population,” military officials said in a press release.
“I feel beautiful wearing my natural hair, because natural hair is beautiful. Black is beautiful. Healthy hair is beautiful hair,” said Anna Davis, 38, of Jamaica, Queens who has been natural for 13 years.
The women in the natural hair movement are giving little girls of color the power to know that kinky/curly hair can mean beautiful.
Sophie Brown, 64, a retired history teacher said “It’s time we stop teaching young women that only straight hair is beautiful.”