All Articles Tagged "African American hair"

Mom On The Move: Vivian Kaye Of Kinky Curly Yaki, Part 2

May 24th, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
Share to Twitter Email This

Vivian Kinky Curly Yaki

Vivian Kinky Curly Yaki

Mom On The Move is a weekly profile of a mom mover and shaker. Women we admire, who inspire us and who have amazing stories to share, oh and they happen to have kids, too! While we love to talk about celebrity moms and their fabulous lives, we also love (and need) to know about real moms who are out here doing it all, just as fabulously. This week we’re profiling Vivian “Queen of Kank”, the founder and CEO of Kinky Curly Yaki.

Mommynoire: What was the beginning of your business like for you?
Vivian: At the time I started I was solo, so I was able to put all effort and 110 percent into it. Like I said, I had already started another business, so I just basically applied the same premise from my other business which was: keep it simple. You have to gear your business towards your audience and what you’re selling so because my product is natural textured hair, girls with natural textured hair aren’t necessarily high-maintenance, so I didn’t want to go for that glamorized, face down up 24/7 type of look and feel. And then in 2013, as the business was really starting to grow, I found out that I was pregnant, so that sort of threw me for a loop. I worked all the way up to the day before I had my son  took a month off, and then started back up again.There’s a photo of mem with him on my chest and I’m at a computer answering questions and everything. So, I was in a service industry before and now I was selling a product so I had to change hats a little bit. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and read a lot of blogs on just running a business. I did a lot of bootstrapping in the beginning, I made my own logo, I did my own graphics…at the time I wasn’t so hot, but you know what? I did what I had to do with the budget I had.
How has it been balancing motherhood and being an entrepreneur?
I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s easy. Being a single mom and starting a business has got to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I say this, like, on the brink of tears. It’s not easy but my son makes it worthwhile. I’m blessed to have the support of my parents and my sisters because basically once a month I’m out and traveling for four days out of the week, so they help me take care of him. His father is still around but he lives in another time zone so it’s kinda difficult to coordinate with that, but I mostly rely on my family and without them, my business wouldn’t be where it is.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a business woman?
Well, one of the things I overcame is people inquiring, why would I buy hair that I can already grow out of my head? Or why would anyone want to buy kinky hair? It was a question I had to answer a lot, but no one questions why some chick is wearing 22 inches of Brazilian hair? First of all, just because it’s not silky doesn’t mean it’s not good hair. Another challenge was business growth and scaling; I started in my little apartment with those little plastic cubbies you get at Walmart and now I bought a house and it’s my whole basement. And now I’ve got to get it out of my basement and put it in a warehouse and hire a fulfillment staff and that’s hard. This is my baby, I don’t want to say it’s my first-born, but it’s hard to give it up.
So one of the challenges I’m facing now is that I need to get out of the business so that I can work on the business. Especially as a mom, it’s hard because you want to see your baby every step of the way, make sure it’s ok and do it the way you would want to do it, just like raising your child. But if you want help, you’ve got it let go and let them do it. I have a lot of good problems though, that’s how I know I’m successful.
What do you see next for your company?
We’ve got wigs, we’ve got frontals (closure pieces for sew-ins and wigs). We’re going to France in June to do the natural hair show. We do a lot of international shipping, and those are the next markets we’re going to focus on…we’re also working on a wholesale product for salons who want to sell our product.
What makes your brand stand out from the rest?
I like to say that I’m a pretty down to earth person and I focus on the for-us-by-us motto. I created this because I have a need, so I know that you have a need. You and I are the same, so we speak to you directly. It’s not, ‘oh I’m a fancy girl, with a fancy purse and I have fancy hair.’ Girl, I’m wearing my sweats, I have a few pounds on me and I have a son, I’m basically just like you. So I think our appeal is that we’re very down to earth, but up on the newest technology and we offer a variety of product. Everytime we try to take something out of stock, people are demanding it. Our brand is strong and we try to keep it 100.
Kinky Curly Yaki is not only about looking good and being fly, but it’s about feeling your best and helping everyone. I talk to moms-to-be and they tell me they’re having a baby soon and ask what should they do with their hair. I tell them about my own experiences– I lost a lot of hair in my crown, so now I wear wigs, and I had a lot of breakage and this is my texture now. We appreciate and love the support and we’re getting bigger and better.
Read Part 1 of our interview with Vivian here.

Mom On The Move: Vivian Kaye Of Kinky Curly Yaki, Part 1

May 23rd, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
Share to Twitter Email This

Vivian Kinky Curly Yaki

Vivian Kinky Curly Yaki

Mom On The Move is a weekly profile of a mom mover and shaker. Women we admire, who inspire us and who have amazing stories to share, oh and they happen to have kids, too! While we love to talk about celebrity moms and their fabulous lives, we also love (and need) to know about real moms who are out here doing it all, just as fabulously. This week we’re profiling Vivian “Queen of Kank”, the founder and CEO of Kinky Curly Yaki.

Mommynoire: How are you, Vivian?

Vivian: I’m great, I had a hectic morning like you. I just finished a spin class and I’ve been up since 2:00 in the morning. I went to bed too early , the same time as my son. I said “ok, we’re gonna go night night” and then fell asleep too, so that was around 8:30 p.m. And then I woke up at 2:00 am like ok, good morning. And then my son decided he wanted to start minding my business at around 5:30 this morning, so we were making pancakes at 6:00 a.m. and it was a whole thing. So I’ll probably start crashing at around 3:00 p.m. (laughs)

So lets get this interview in before you need a nap! Tell me about Kinky Curly Yaki, and how it got started. Do you have a background in beauty or hair? 

I don’t have any background in hair, I don’t have any background in anything but I guess motivation and ambition. I had a previous company as a wedding event decorator and I needed some hair that looked like me. I needed it to look professional, but not 30 inches of Brazilian hair down my back. I was tired of that whole ‘African in the front and Indian in the back’ thing, so I was looking for something that would work for me and look natural for me. In the course of this, I was going to networking events and people would ask me what my regimen was for my hair and I wouldn’t say specifics but I’d say it’s a wig or it’s a weave, and people would say “Oh my God, I would totally buy that, you should never tell anyone it’s a weave.”

And how long ago was this?

This was 2011. I was still working as a wedding decorator and because it’s a seasonal business, I thought, ok, I will start this up in the winter, just to see what it does.

So basically you found this hair that matched your own and figured out how to install it? What was your initial experience with the hair?

My initial experience was a weave, so I went to the hair dresser I used all the time back when I was relaxing my hair. I would just bring everything to her and she would install it. That was my 4th time going natural and I was like, I’m not doing this relaxer thing anymore, and that’s why I needed to find something that looked like my hair. So I brought this hair to her, she installed it, said it was gorgeous, I was like, thank you and then I put it in a ponytail and left.

Then you knew you were on to something?

From there, at the time, I was the only company that only sold kinky hair, and if other companies sold kinky hair it would be buried under the Malaysian, the Brazilian and the exotic texture du jour. No one else then was selling kinky hair, so I thought I should just go all out and sell just kinky hair and it absolutely took off. At the time, there was only one other company selling kinky hair and even then I was ahead of the game because I had five textures: two curly and three straight and since we’ve added a sixth texture. But man, it blew up. I pretty much had to put my other business to the side and focus solely on this business.

How did you get the word out that you had this great product?

V: I was a hair connoisseur before I started Kinky Curly Yaki, so I’ve always been interested but not necessarily doing hair but just how to be a lazy natural, I guess you could say. There’s this one woman who I e-met and I said, ‘Hey, I see you love big kinky hair and I have some big, kinky hair. How about I send you some and you tell me what you think?’ At the time I really didn’t think she was going to take pictures and post it all over social media and forums. And I was like, ‘Oh wow, oh ok, wow wow wow. So I guess you could say she was my first promoter. She posted photos and everyone love it. It didn’t just take off, it really took off.

KW: And you’re like, oh shoot, let me get rolling…

V: Yes, exactly, let’s clear out some space in my house and do it. That’s pretty much how it started.

Check out part 2 of this interview with Vivian of Kinky Curly Yaki.

4 Products That Snatch My Edges Every Time

March 28th, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
Share to Twitter Email This

There are three things you’ll always find in my purse: Vaseline, gum, and edge control. A year ago, that last item would’ve been hair gel but I have since come to understand traditional gel’s alcohol content doesn’t always leave my edges in good hands, as Dennis Haysbert might say. And more importantly — or less, depending on your priorities — I’ve come to realize there are edge control products that actually work just as well as gel but are healthier for your hair, which is important because we all know strong edges are hard to come by.

A well– (or not so well) tamed edge can completely take one’s look from messy to polished which is why I am always on the lookout for a gel or paste that will give me the best hold for the longest amount of time without the buildup (because as an edge connoisseur I will not hesitate to reapply throughout the day). During the past six months I’ve come across four products that have yet to fail me when I need to tame my edges, which is why I pretty much keep one at the office, one in my purse, one in the gym bag, and one at the house.

Loc N Loc Twist Wave Edge Gel

edge 1

Loc N is the product that actually made me kiss gel goodbye. When I did the big chop in October my beautician put this product on my edges to smooth them down and I was blown away. Never had a non-alcoholic product offered such control and shine, plus I never really needed to reapply the gel throughout the day — yes it’s that good! Loc N is also a bit pricey at $25 for a 16-ounce container, but I promise it’s worth the cost.

Creme of Nature Perfect Edges

edge 3

Creme of Nature’s Argan Oil Perfect Edges is the second edge control product to make me a believer. I’m actually a fan of this brand’s entire Argan Oil line and the edge control did not fail on its promise to provide firm hold without flaking, like most gels do. Though most days the regular strength product is enough for me, I have started using the extra hold to give even longer lasting control, especially on humid days or when doing a slick ponytail. (Note: I did apply a curl gel to smooth most of my hair in the photo above but Perfect Edges was used to smooth the hair in the middle part and around the perimeter of my hair.

Curls Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Paste

edge 2

Curls’ Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Paste is the same thick consistency as Creme of Nature’s edge control and contains argan oil as well, along with mango and shea butter which add much-appreciated shine. The organic blueberry extract also gives the paste an amazing scent and I’ve been able to use this product not just for smoothing unruly edges but even for sculpting updos when my ‘fro won’t cooperate.

Mielle Organics Edge Gel

edge 4

Initially, I was hesitant to try Mielle Organics’ new edge gel because, unlike Curls and Creme of Nature, the gel has a thinner consistency that made me question whether it could provide enough hold. But as they say, don’t judge a book by it’s cover — or a product by it’s texture. This edge gel, made with honey and ginger which stimulate hair growth, is just as the manufacturer described it, “non-gummy.” I enjoy the smoothness of the application and the light hold it provides, which it should be noted held up this morning in a downpour without an umbrella. If you only have a few flyaways threatening to get the best of your ‘do, this product from the African American-owned beauty brand will do you good.

Yes, Women With Type 2C and 3A/3B Hair Have Struggles Too

February 24th, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
Share to Twitter Email This

I can decipher hair charts about as well as the periodic table, but I’ve been told I’m somewhere along the 3B spectrum — mostly by women who like to label my hair with that dirty G word Black women say they hate but still use regularly as both a mode of shaming those perceived to be less Black and self-deprication. I usually respond to those “but you got that good hair” remarks that are thrown at me whenever I complain about not knowing what to do with my own hair or I’m listening to someone complain about theirs by saying “more manageable” because “good” feels awkward and without hair struggles I am not.

The 2C, 3A/3B alphabet soup hair struggle is a topic that’s been on my mind for some time now, but I didn’t feel convicted to actually put my thoughts into a post until I saw the response to the #SaveMyEdges parody we posted on Monday. Thinking this lighthearted video would give all Black woman a good laugh, I was shocked to find a comment that read: “This comes off as disrespectful and mockery to me and I have full edges so it’s nothing personal. The fact that most of the women are biracial yet they mention “black women” makes it come off more mocking.”

I don’t have time to debate bi-racial Blackness right now (but I shall another day), what I want to discuss is the misconception that just because you don’t have course, kinky, or a so-called 4C texture means your hair care routine is a walk in the park. The fact is anyone with African Ancestry, no matter the percentage, is going to have to put extra TLC into caring for their tresses, and yes that includes preventing the endangerment of their edges, much to the surprise of the same commenter noted above who also posited: “Biracials seldom wear hairstyles that create lost edges.”

Tell that to my bi-racial best friend who rocks box braids in the summer and who just lost about 4 inches of hair due to color processing. I’m not bi-racial, but that 35% of European ancestry that’s apart of my DNA was not enough to stop a box braid from yanking out an entire section of baby hair on the right side of my head three years ago. And because I couldn’t stick to the Jamaican Black Castor oil routine recommended to me, I became that girl with partially see-through edges on one side until I left perms, braids, and super tight buns alone (for the most part on that last one because I still love a bun).

Just a few weeks ago a friend of mine was complaining about how she can’t do anything with her straight, fine hair that people also like to tell her all the time is “good.”

“It won’t hold a curl; it won’t do anything. That’s why you always see it like this,” she said motioning to the low ponytail that has become her signature style. Sure, she may not have to do anything to it to beat it into submission in that ponytail, but she also envies other women who can rock big, wild hair one day, or have large curls the next, or even a funky updo, which her straight hair won’t allow.

Even with my ability to do a wash n’go, I know I’m not putting my best foot forward; I’m essentially getting by because I’m too lazy to take the time to twist and pineapple my hair every night and have a luxurious curly ‘fro like other naturals. And as soon as I lay down on any part of my hair, it’s smashed and I have to start over from scratch — like soaking wet hair, apply product and air dry or blow dry with a diffuser scratch because that spray bottle stuff doesn’t work for me. There’s also the fact that when I straighten my hair, the mere suggestion of moisture instantly turns my straight bob into a puffy, frizzy mess by the time I get from my apartment to the office. And there’s still no skimping on all those pre-poo, shampoo, co-wash, detangle, moisturize, seal, style, dry steps if you actually want healthy hair. Okay maybe the detangling takes a little less time, but does anything about all of that other stuff sound overwhelmingly “good?”

I didn’t write this to have a digital woe is 3B party, I just need for Black women to find one thing we cannot be divisive about. I know hair as a whole will never be it, but it would mean a lot if we could at least acknowledge we all struggle somewhere along the hair care maintenance spectrum, no matter how wavy or course our texture may be.

Things People With Locs Are Tired Of Hearing

February 15th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
Share to Twitter Email This

Understand Black Hair


Locs have been around for centuries, but faux locs were a serious hair trend in 2015, continuing to make waves in 2016.  Even people like Zendaya Coleman, who famously rocked them on a temporary basis, can attest to the stereotypes, misconceptions and straight up racist remarks that loc-wearers sometimes hear.

In response to Fashion Police co-host Giuliana Rancic’s comments that Coleman’s faux locs made her look like “she smells like patchouli oil or weed,” here’s what the wise-beyond-her-years starlet had to say:

“There is already harsh criticism of African-American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair. My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”

If you’re rocking locs on a more permanent basis, chances are you’re that much more subject to the politics of Black hair.  Read on for a list of scenarios and comments that people with locs are tired of hearing.

Mom On The Move: Interview With Queen Of Cuts Cynthia Meadows, Part 2

January 11th, 2016 - By Danielle Elaine
Share to Twitter Email This

Cynthia Meadows

Cynthia Meadows

Florida’s very own Cynthia Meadows has quickly gone from her hometown’s “Kitchen Beautician” to arguably one of the country’s headlining hair stylists. In just a short period of time, Cynthia has attracted the eyes of the hair industry’s who’s-who list with her exceptional cutting-edge skill, and signature blindfold haircuts.

We caught up with this mogul mom-on-the-go, to pick her brain about some of her styling tips and tricks and mompreneur secrets of her trade. In this part of our two-part interview, check out what Cynthia had to say about balancing her most important title: mom.

What is your daily life like being a business woman and mom?

My day starts with the morning wake up which normally starts around 5:00 a.m. with prayer, fighting with my daughter to get dressed and to eat breakfast at 6:00 a.m. then to the daycare to drop her off. Now, to change from mommy-mode to business woman is the easier part of my of my day. A day of management, doing clients, marketing strategies, training employees, budget cuts, counseling my clients, and daily team meetings. I work a lot of late nights as a business owner, which I don’t enjoy but the best part of my day is coming home to my daughter.

How do you find balance between cultivating your passion and family?

In order to cultivate balance, you have to determine what’s important to you and make it a priority in your life. When it comes to family-values, find a happy medium that balances the things you need in your life. In my business, I’ve learned to delegate. As my business grows, my staff will have to increase in order for me to balance my personal life and business. Above all, I am a mom first, and with the help of my traveling nanny I am able to maximize my time with my daughter and get business done.

Do you want more children ?

Yes! I’ve always wanted to be like Toni Braxton’s mom with all her girls around her all the time. I’ll love to have about four more kids someday.

cynthia meadows 1

What are some important lessons you aim to teach your children in your life’s pursuits?

I live by these top three life lessons in life:

  1. Love and forgive. The degree to which you are able to truly love as an expression of your character, not merely as a feeling, the more you will be willing to forgive. The more you are able to forgive, the more you will be free to love. Character is a much more accurate voice exclaiming who you are than popularity, personality or status. So let your moral character speak so loudly no one can hear the gossip spoken about you by lesser minds.
  2. Invest regularly in your own human capital, in the development of your ability and talents, in your knowledge and education. Learn every day. Don’t rely exclusively on formal modes of education. Learn on your own. Get excited about it. Read. Study. Challenge yourself. Develop. Improve.
  3. Let patience be your first response, kindness be your first reply, courage be your default setting, faith be your first inclination, curiosity be your first question, perseverance be your longest answer, gratitude be your spontaneous condition and love be your first, final and only method.

I want to be a living example to my daughter–and future children–by showing them that anything is possible through faith and hard work. I don’t believe in excuses, just results. I have never worked for anyone but myself, not many people can say that.

What’s next for Cynthia as a mom and business woman?

As a mom, I’m just trying to get my toddler potty trained (laughs). As for A’Bliss, I am looking into franchising. I’ve been staking out property in top cities around the country, as well as working toward expanding my brand with a natural hair product and cosmetics line. I am also excited about providing opportunities to educate upcoming stylist. Within the next year I plan on hosting classes for those looking to continue their education, and enhance their skill set. 

What would you say is a great go-to style for busy moms like yourself?

Sew-ins or pixie cuts are a great style opt for any busy mom on the go. With a shortcut you can just wax it up and go.

How can a natural mom save time, and maintain healthy hair in the midst of a busy week?

My best advice is moisture! You hair needs moisture daily to maintain healthy hair. Incorporate natural hair remedies to your hair care regimen like mayonnaise for proteins, castor oil, eggs etc.

What are a few tricks you use on your daughter to promote hair growth?

There’s no magical trick to making hair grow, because mostly it’s a matter of genetics. There are however, some things you can do to help the natural process along and you may actually see your child’s hair grow faster. Adding certain foods to can actually promote hair growth and give children the nourishment their bodies need.

  • Peanuts, corn, and spinach contain vitamin E, which stimulates hair growth.
  • Folic acid, found in foods like asparagus, peas, citrus fruits, and turkey, will help promote hair growth by strengthening strands so they don’t break off prematurely.
  • Drinking water—four to six glasses a day—will keep hair hydrated.
  • Vitamin B produces keratin, a protein that strengthens strands. It’s found in bananas, whole-grain cereals, rice and eggs.
  • Dairy products like skim milk and yogurt—as well as broccoli and strawberries–are great sources of calcium, an important mineral for hair growth.

Many women wear braids and style their children in braids as a protective style, and because of the styles low-maintenance. What are some ways one can reverse breakage on the hairline from braids? What are some methods of prevention?

Many people are resorting to braids as a protective, low-maintenance style. I would highly recommend leaving the hairline out with braids and avoiding extra-tight braids that causes so much tension on the hair, causing it to break off.

What are some great tips and tricks to achieving a quick and cute style (using Paul Mitchell products) for your daughter?

For my daughter’s hair, I use the kid’s line which has a shampoo/conditioner with a detangling spray. I also use a Paul Mitchell Curls Twirl Around Crunch-Free Curl Definer cream to keep her natural coils tamed all day.

What’s a great Paul Mitchell styling product for the natural mom on-the-go?

A great PM styling product for a natural mom on-the-go is their curly hair products. They are a lightweight conditioning treatment that hydrates, detangles, tames frizz and won’t weigh the hair down throughout the day.

Click here for Part 1 of this interview where Cynthia talks about her life as a business woman.

Mom On The Move: Interview With Queen Of Cuts Cynthia Meadows, Part 1

January 8th, 2016 - By Danielle Elaine
Share to Twitter Email This

Cynthia Meadows

Cynthia Meadows


Florida’s very own Cynthia Meadows has quickly gone from her hometown’s “Kitchen Beautician” to arguably one of the country’s headlining hair stylists. In just a short period of time, Cynthia has attracted the eyes of the hair industry’s who’s-who list with her exceptional cutting-edge skill, and signature blind fold haircuts.

We caught up with this mogul mom-on-the-go, to pick her brain about some of her styling tips and tricks and momprenuer secrets of her trade. In this part of our two-part interview, check out what Cynthia had to say about her Bronner Brothers performance, being a Paul Mitchell Insider and establishing herself as an influencer.

How old were you when you knew you had a gift for hair?

Cynthia Meadows:  My love affair with hair begun at 14 years of age. I started braiding hair in my mother’s kitchen. I was very well known for braided styles throughout my community. By the time I was 16 I had my first job working in a salon.

How did you arrive at the blindfolded hair cuts? Who was the first person to actually let you try it?

(Laughs) The first person to let me try it was one of my clients. Obviously she was nervous, but she trusts me. We just went for it and she ended up loving it! I was looking to do something different, something extreme to really give me an edge and help me to stand out on stage. Cutting is what I know, it’s who I am.

cynthia meadows queen of cuts


You have accomplished so much in the last year, how do you manage to stay focused?

I manage to stay focused by eliminating distractions around me, and by staying surrounded by people who can only help elevate me by keeping me grounded.

What are some of the qualities about you, your brand, and styling techniques that make you an influencer?

Some of the qualities about me that makes me a great influencer is my personality and good character. I am also a developer of cutting edge trends.  My brand is a great influence in itself due to the story behind the brand. Everyone that knows me, knows my beginning and my strong work ethic to get to this point in my career.

cynthia meadows 1

What do you plan to achieve for yourself and Paul Mitchell as a PMInsider?

I plan to continue to build more of a relationship within the brand and someday become a platform artist.

What are some of your favorite Paul Mitchell products to use?

My salon, A’Bliss Studios, is a Paul Mitchell  based salon, meaning we use 90 percent of Paul Mitchell products.  My absolute favorite product to use is their Marula Oil line, which is a luxury hair care line that nourishes and hydrates the hair.

What inspiration can upcoming stylist draw from the PM brand, and their products?

Some of the inspirations upcoming stylists can draw from the Paul Mitchell  brand is knowing the history behind Paul Mitchell. You have to understand where the brand came from, how it was built, and who the brainchild is behind the product. Every stylist is inspired by either Paul Mitchell or Vidal Sassoon, which are two of the industry’s biggest million dollar companies. Their product line is a major inspiration to anyone who aspires to have their own product line one day.

What would you say it takes for one to become an influencer in any profession?

One of the most crucial skills an entrepreneur needs for success is influence. Without it, failure is inevitable. For the entrepreneur, it’s arguably the most important ability to possess. The need to influence others is unavoidable, and unfortunately, it’s not very easy. Some key steps in becoming an influencer in any profession it to be able to motivate people, have actionable information, and develop new ways to become an innovator or to recreate yourself.

Check back for Part 2 of this interview where Cynthia talks about her life as a mom.


What Does The WEN Lawsuit Mean For Black Women?

December 14th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
Share to Twitter Email This

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

A class-action lawsuit aimed at a popular co-washing system might have many Black natural hair wearers ready to snatch the wig of the nearest White girl for, once again, messing a good thing up for us…

According to The Daily Beast, nearly 200 women have signed up for a class action lawsuit against WEN hair care alleging that it failed to warn consumers that use of the product may result in temporary and permanent hair loss.

More specifically, the news site reports:

Billed as a sulfate-free alternative to shampoo, WEN promises to “take the place of your shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, detangler, and leave-in conditioner.”

But the cult favorite products have also attracted controversy. Over the years, horror stories from customers have circulated online—on WEN product forums and sites including Pissed Consumer and Amazon—about WEN’s 5-in-1 Cleansing Conditioners causing hair to come out in handfuls, as well as clogged drains and bald spots.

Now, more than 200 women in 40 states have joined a class action lawsuit against WEN by Chaz Dean and infomercial giant Guthy-Renker in California Federal Court. They claim that the WEN products can cause severe and possibly permanent damage to hair, including significant hair loss to the point of visible bald spots, hair breakage, scalp irritation, and rash.”

At the center of the lawsuits appears to be WEN’s Sweet Almond Mint basic kit. The kit bills itself as an all-natural mix of botanicals. The cleansing conditioner in particular includes such ingredients as:

Water, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Bark Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Vegetable Oil (Olus Oil), Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Polysorbate 60, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Amodimethicone, Citric Acid, Menthol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol, Benzyl Benzoate, Hydroxycitronellal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde.

However as the Daily Beast article notes, many of those ingredients are widely used in the hair care industry, with exception of hydroxycitronella, which is currently banned in the European Union for being toxic to the immune system.

And while no one knows for sure what ingredient in WEN is allegedly causing hair loss (the article quotes experts who said that determining the root causes of hair loss in women in very complicated and include many factors from genetics to hormonal changes to prolonged flat-iron use), the law firm representing the plaintiffs in the case estimates that as many as “in the thousands or tens of thousands” could eventually be named in the lawsuit.

It should be mentioned that the plaintiffs featured in many of the articles about the lawsuit (including this USA Today article from earlier this year when the lawsuit was announced and features pictures of some of the women alleging WEN caused their hair loss) appear to be non-Black women. This is important to note as the WEN system, which allows you to clean your hair with conditioner, has been marketed as a product made for all hair types and textures.

Likewise, it has become very popular among Black women with natural hair who are looking for alternatives to harsh sulfates and other chemicals that are in standard shampoos and known to cause damage to our hair.

And although the Daily Beast article said that there are negative reviews of the product all over the internet, the article also highlights this interesting quote from a hair stylist who says:

“WEN seems to be good for certain hair types, especially those that are coarse or frizzy,” says Kelsey Smart, a stylist at Fox & Jane salon in New York. “But for women with fine hair, it becomes more important for the scalp to stay really clean—otherwise, product can build up and lead to breakage.”

In fact, my own quick Google query for negative reviews of the WEN hair care line within the Black online hair care community has resulted in unrelated complaints about its price (it’s too expensive) and double-billing.

I bring this up because over the last few years we have seen hair and beauty companies, including Black-owned businesses, steer away from marketing to Black women specifically for a more universal customer base.

From a marketing standpoint, it is genius. Black women in particular have long felt excluded from the mainstream health and beauty industry. Therefore, who doesn’t like the idea of a product that can be used by all hair types?

But is that really realistic? More specifically, is there really such a thing as a universal product that addresses the needs of all textures and types?

Arguably, WEN could just be a product that is more “botanically” aligned with African-American and other ethnic hair textures. And if the allegations are true, this entire lawsuit could have been avoided if it had just sought to cater more to its real customer base while telling Becky and ’em to go elsewhere – just like I am told with about 80 percent of the hair care products for “women” on the shelf.

But I understand, there is little money in that…

I Had To Wear A Wig To Get A Job

November 17th, 2015 - By Christine Mwaturura
Share to Twitter Email This



People are superficial. Time and time again studies have proved that most people (whether consciously or unconsciously) make judgments about other people based on physical appearance. How this manifests in the workplace is that unattractive people often get the short end of the stick. Economist Daniel Hamermesh reveals in his book Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful that, “…the attractive are more likely to be employed [and] receive more substantial pay…” This research has been out for a while, but I hadn’t given much thought to the implications of the findings in my personal life until I had to re-enter the job search market.

Job Searching With Natural Hair

I typically wear my hair in dreadlocks as a matter of convenience and have done so for the past three years. So when I started meeting with recruiters and interviewing for a new job, the thought of changing my hair for the sole purpose of landing a job didn’t even occur to me. Curiously, even though I felt that I was a great candidate, I wasn’t getting any call-backs. Frustrated and annoyed with my lack of progress, I called my sister to vent about my job search woes. Her advice: wear a wig. Really? So my stellar resume, exceptional work experience and superstar personality meant nothing? I refused. I was adamant – I would rise against the tide of corporate conformity!

Fast forward to a few weeks later, still no call-backs. I started thinking about a recent experience that I’d had in my local grocery store when a young white girl excitedly pointed at me, turned to her father and said, “Daddy, daddy look! That girl has funny hair!” Maybe my sister was right after-all. So I reluctantly pulled on a wig for my next interviews, and rather coincidentally, I started getting call-backs. Now, this obviously could just mean that I got better at interviewing. But on the other hand, maybe there was something more vile underpinning this coincidence…

Black Hair and Discrimination

In an episode of the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast, Lori L.Tharp discusses how negative perceptions about natural Black hair in Western societies stems from the racist slavery era. During slavery time, it was often assumed that a Black person who had lighter skin and less kinky hair texture had some white blood mixed in them. These slaves would often be treated better than their darker-skinned and kinkier-haired counterparts by the slave masters, as they were thought to be smarter and more teachable because of the white blood running through their veins. Kinky hair textures weren’t even referred to as hair – rather as wool, effectively dehumanizing Black people. Thankfully, things today are certainly not to that degree of racism, however, vestiges of slavery remain within our modern culture. The story we generally see in the media is that natural Black hair is not worth seeing – it’s something that ought to be covered up. It’s unattractive. When it comes to the workplace, some companies even go so far as to disallow natural hairstyles for Black women under the company dress code. Podcast host Cristen Conger sums this up quite precisely as “…racism under the guise of professionalism.”

Dreadlocks, especially, come with a host of negative stereotypes. We all remember Giuliana Rancic’s unfortunate comment about Zendaya Coleman’s locs smelling like weed and patchouli. While Giuliana might have meant this as a joke (albeit in poor taste), I have no doubt that there are some people who genuinely believe that all dread-heads are druggies.

So, if dreadlocks are a stigmatized hairstyle, and research has shown that it only takes a tenth of a second to form a first impression of a stranger, plus attractiveness is one of leading traits assessed the quickest by people and is known to impact success in the workplace, then does the intersection of all these pieces of information mean that I had been knocked out of contention for getting the job before I’d even opened my mouth in the interview? I wonder.

What Now?

After landing a job I continued to wear a wig to work so as to not ruffle any feathers or distract people from the quality of my work. I’ve worn wigs in the past but never for a full eight hours per day, five days a week. I hated it. Taking off my wig when I got home was the best part of my day – like exhaling after holding your breath for a long time. I lasted for a few months doing this but then couldn’t do it any longer. I’m back to wearing my locs full-time and accept the risk that some ignorant people may not look favorably on my hair styling choice, but at least I’m comfortable and no longer feel like an impostor.

Curl Talk: 5 Products For Your Daughter’s Natural Tresses

September 2nd, 2015 - By Allyson Leak
Share to Twitter Email This



Curly, kinky, and wavy hair needs a lot of moisture. It takes the moisture from the natural oils in the hair a longer time to get down the hair shaft because of the beautiful twists and turns of the hair pattern. And this can cause dry hair and breakage and that’s why it’s essential to replenish the hair with great products. Here are some great products to try for your daughter’s natural tresses.



Bee Mine Botanical Moisturizing Shampoo

Bee Mine Botanical Moisturizing Shampoo is loaded with botanical extracts to gently cleanse hair, remove residue and moisturize while enhancing natural shine.  It leaves hair touchably soft & smooth and will nourish the scalp and strengthen the hair without stripping or weighing it down.  It will cleanse, hydrate and quench your dry hair. Apply a small amount to wet hair gently massage to create a lather.  Rinse thoroughly repeat if needed.  Follow up with conditioner.


SheaMoisture’s Mango & Carrot Kids Extra-Nourishing Conditioner

SheaMoisture’s Mango & Carrot Kids Extra-Nourishing Conditioner softens and smoothes children’s hair, making it easy to detangle and work out knots. It helps nourish and strengthen hair while protecting against breakage. The mango butter  is a moisture-rich emollient that leaves the hair feeling silky smooth. The carrot oil nourishes hair, helping to prevent breakage and promote growth. And the orange blossom  soothes sensitive scalps. After shampooing, apply a dollop to wet hair. Gently run fingers through hair to distribute evenly. Rinse well with warm water.




African Pride Dream Kids Quick Bounce Detangling Pudding

African Pride Dream Kids Quick Bounce Detangling Pudding’s intense moisturizing properties help manage tangles, instantly improve softness, and boost shine in naturally curly, wavy, kinky-coily hair. The smooth creamy feather light kids formula contains the finest Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Herbal Extracts used for generations to help strengthen and protect hair. And it’s formulated exclusively for children’s delicate hair and scalp.




Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is great for penetrating the hair with its vitamin E, vitamin K, protein, fatty acids and iron. Not only does it moisturize but it prevents hair breakage by sealing the hair follicle. It has also been known to eliminate dandruff and promotes shiny hair. To use as a deep conditioner apply to damp clean hair in sections and comb through from root to tip. Pin it up and leave it on for half an hour then rinse and create your natural style.


Carols Daughter Mirabelle Plum Leave In Conditioner

The Carol’s Daughter Mirabelle Plum Leave In Conditioner is a  lightweight, silicone-free moisturizer that detangles, strengthens and adds weightless body to lifeless strands. Made with Mirabelle Plums plus a fusion of oils, it intensely rehydrates and restores hair so it appears visibly stronger and fuller. Now you can quench your hair’s thirst for ultimate health without weighing it down. The powerful ingredients include: Mirabelle Plum, Biotin, grapeseed oil, aloe leaf juice, and sweet almond oil.