Desegregating Hair Products
A few weeks ago, I made a product suggestion to an African-American woman, encouraging her to try out Tresemme Naturals Conditioner. “But isn’t that for white people???” she responded. I found myself unsure of how to respond “… well, I’m black and it works for me, but technically speaking I suppose it is typically found in the ‘white section’ of the store”
Recently a couple of white friends with highly textured hair have asked me for product recommendations to help them with dryness and frizz. One said “I think I should try, you know, some products that are for black people because they always have a lot of moisture.” And so I made some recommendations of “black products”.
But why do we have this black and white view of the product world and why does it seem so unnatural to break out of it?In a recent post on the Natural Haven, JC, the renowned natural hair scientist, studied white, black, and asian hair and concluded that all three types of hair are more alike than they are different. Why? Because we are all part of the human species. If that is the case, then how do these “white products” and “black products” truly differ? In a word: marketing.
Just as many of these “white products” typically use Caucasian or Asian models, “black products” similarly employ black models so that when you are shopping for a product, you naturally gravitate towards the ones that have models who most resemble you on the packaging because you assume that those are the ones that will work best for your hair.
If we were to take ALL hair products from their shelves and throw them into a massive bin and resort them by various texture properties and styling desires (i.e. fine, super conditioning, coarse, dry, needs volume, oily, curl enhancing, curl straightening), I think that this new organization and layout of products would be much more efficient and appropriate for our own individual needs.
Historically speaking, whenever I would go into a Target, Walgreens or other large store to check out their hair goods, I used to always bypass the aisles of “white products” and head straight to the significantly smaller section called where one could find Pink Oil Moisturizer, relaxers, spray sheen, and shea butter/olive oil/coconut infused products catered to black folks.
Now that I am natural, I find my desired products about half in the “black aisles” and half in the “white aisles” as I search for conditioners, stylers, and moisturizers. I use the ingredient list, rather than a hanging sign denoting the aisle name, to guide my product purchasing decisions.
The bottom line is hair is hair is hair is hair. If something works for you (or looks like it could work for you), no matter what is on the packaging, then by all means USE IT! I encourage you to take a walk over to the “other aisle” and check out what they have to offer. I’m confident that you’ll be pleased with what you try out!