27 April 2013

Natural hair hitting the mainstream is good for the budget-minded

I've been trying to rock my natural hair off and on since the mid-1980s. The biggest issue I faced in the early days was finding products that worked for natural hair, so I would always end up going back to natural hair in frustration. Then about five years ago, with the growth of natural hair communities online, I started learning about product lines that people were starting on a shoestring with all-natural ingredients. Unfortunately for me, they were not available in my local stores and the cost was prohibitive. Spending $50 for a styling product is too much for me, especially if it is meant to be slathered onto my hair with abandon. I also don't want to risk spending that much on a product only to find that it doesn't work for me.

Lately, I have noticed that products for natural hair are becoming more accessible. Target seemed to be at the forefront of this. Miss Jessie's and Jane Carter, two "boutique" brands that were only available to me online before, are now available at Target and in sizes that make it more affordable to try. I would much rather spend $9 on the 2 oz. size than $50 on the 16 oz size if I am trying it for the first time.

Product lines aimed specifically at natural hair are showing up in other chains, too. I've seen ads for lines at Walgreens, CVS, and Target. Some of these are add-ons to lines from big cosmetics companies. Organic Root Stimulator has Curls Unleashed. L'Oreal has Evercurl from L'Oreal Paris and Au Naturale from their ethnic Dark and Lovely brand. All of these lines have products in the $7 to $10 range. Depending on the company, there may not be any black women pictured in the advertising but the ad copy uses many of the natural-hair community code words like "sulfate-free" and "curl definition".

I have never been a product junkie. When I was younger, most of the products for black-girl hair were basically some form of grease and I couldn't stand the feeling of it on my hand or on my relaxed hair. I've gotten over that, but now I rebel against putting too much product in my hair because it has been so costly. Many of the styling techniques that I have marked off as "not for me" may not have worked because I didn't put as much gel or curl-defining cream in my hair as other women do. I'm anxious to try some of these new products now that I can run down the street to get them and not break the bank.
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