All Articles Tagged "black hair"
From Kylie Jenner’s cornrows to Katy Perry’s gelled baby hairs to fashion week runways being full of controversial trolls from head-to-toe, the latest reiteration of a traditionally black element of style, as it pertains to women especially, has been revealed. This time around, yet another hairstyle is on the chopping block and being re-imaged.
Earlier this week on Thursday (Feb. 11), Cosmopolitan posted an article stating that “hair tattoos,” commonly known to the masses as undercuts, were the next big trend in hair. Next?
For those that may not be hip to undercuts, it’s basically a haircut where the back and sides of your hair is cut very short or shaven. It’s definitely an edgy look for those who are all about making a statement with their mane, but honestly there’s nothing new about this look at all.
Nevertheless, Cosmo went on to explain that Allure actually discovered the trend first:
“When singer Madison Beer posted a “gooood morning” photo to Instagram last week, all anyone could talk about was her hair. It looks like a simple top knot at first, but if you look closely, you can see the back of her head is shaved into a cool pattern.
And she’s not the only one rocking this hair trend. It’s called a Hair Tattoo, reports Allure.com, and it’s blowing up on Instagram. One girl showed exactly what it looks like both down and pulled up. The “tattoo” is totally hidden and then — surprise!”
Unfortunately, it’s clear that Cosmo didn’t care to give credit where credit was actually due when it came to this article. Ever heard of Kelis? Maybe Cassie? Or Rihanna? What about Lala? Mel B? Laurie Ann Gibson? All of those Black women and many more have rocked this style, influenced many others to do the same, and stamped it as a full-on hair trend years ago. You also can’t forget about rappers in the ’80s and ’90s like Big Daddy Kane either — it’s a long lineage of this hairstyle in the Black community.
Cassie Dans le clip de Wiz Khalifa Roll Up est juste INCROYABLE : pic.twitter.com/vWFXtP1O1J
— israel (@StigJordaens) March 15, 2013
My favorite Kelis hair period.
Why I’m itching to straighten my hair so badly also. pic.twitter.com/ZxL7yuqNBc
— Schekinah (@SchekinahJ) October 29, 2014
While this style isn’t just a “Black” style that can only be worn by “Black” people, an element of our community has once again been appropriated and spun as some sort of new trend by a majority white publication without recognition. And of course, when Twitter (primarily Black Twitter) got a hold of the news, reactions were abundant, declaring disapproval of Comso’s article. Soon after, the publication pulled both the tweet and the article from their site and social media pages.
Are you with us on this one or what? Continue scrolling to see what Twitter users had to say using the hashtag #CosmoHeadlines:
— Kayla (@KAYbeginskiss) February 11, 2016
— Lauren Warren (@iamlaurenp) February 11, 2016
— Lemon Cake✨ (@TheSlimGoddess) February 11, 2016
— Josh (@JoshSeaYouAreD) February 11, 2016
— Ol’ QWERTY Bastard (@TheDiLLon1) February 11, 2016
In the quest to have the most laid of ‘dos temporarily, many of us wear hairstyles that pull at our hair and cause our edges to thin out. For others, pregnancy comes for our edges, as does stress, lupus, alopecia, iron deficiency, and hypothyroidism. It can even be hereditary. But what is one to do when that hair runs for the hills? Whatever you do, I wouldn’t recommend going to a tattoo artist and having them create edges for you with ink. Like this woman:
This could be clever, and kudos to the tattoo artist for his good work. However, I can’t imagine what that tattooed edge is going to look like once it goes through the healing process, which usually includes dryness, peeling and itching. And what if this woman wants to color her hair later in life? What then?
While it seemed like a reasonable idea on paper, getting your edges tattooed on is not your next best bet. Experts and stylists say if you’re not trying to help your edges grow back, you need to leave that hair alone. So what should you do when you notice that your edges are thinning out? It may not be too late.
Rubbing your thinning hair with essential oils can do your edges good. Black castor oil is always lauded, as is Vitamin E, protein treatments, rosemary oil and temple balms from brands like Eden, Dr. Miracles and Organic Root Stimulator.
It’s a given that you might want to ease up on the weaves and extensions that pull on the hair, but the same goes for ponytails that pull excessively, tight braids, super secure knots and restrictive headbands.
And ditch the bonnets that are too tight around your hairline, as well as the ones that aren’t made with satin edges. Your best bet if you know your edges are thinning is to opt for a satin pillowcase or use a covering that is all-satin everything.
Also, be careful with products that could be hurting your hairline. From your makeup to your acne medication, your edges will thank you later.
Thinning edges are disappointing, but there are ways to get them together–without putting an ink needle to your scalp.
But what say you? Is this woman’s tattooed hairline a crazy idea or clever?
There’s a new trend. I don’t know if you’ve noticed it. Men who are bald or unhappy with their hair, length, line or texture are doing something about it. They’re filling it in with fake hair. Really, when you think about it, theres nothing necessarily new about men wearing fake hair. The toupee has been around for ages. But the technology has never quite been up to par. You could always spot a man with fake hair. (Looking at you Donald Trump.)
That was especially the case with Black men as Black hair for men is pretty difficult to replicate.
But the times they are a changin’. Technology is better and the deception is real. There have been videos popping up all over social media showing us how it’s done, including this recent one on Facebook.
I think since we watched this man go from a George Jefferson cul-de-sac to sporting deep waves, we might believe that we would be able to tell this hair was fake if we saw him in real life. But I’m not so sure. Without the video of the process, I might walk past this man on the street, not giving his hair a second glance, which brings me to my question.
Say this very same man approached you. You were feeling his game and decided to start dating him. Would you be disheartened or disinterested to learn that the hair on his head didn’t grow from his scalp? Would you want him to reveal this information on date one or two so you know what you’re really getting into? And lastly, would you feel some type of way about a man wearing a weave?
As much as I try to advocate for gender equality, removing double standards and the right for people to do whatever they want with their own bodies, I’m just not so sure I would be down with a man I’d just met revealing that his hair–all of it– is fake.
A part of me feels bad writing this, particularly when I don’t care for the way men shame women for things like “makeup sorcery” and deception through weave, fake nails, eyelashes, booties etc, when those are the things men and society at large demand from us, i.e. perfection. Men just don’t receive the same types of messages we do about their physical appearance.
I guess the older I get, the more I realize that hair is not just important to Black women. Black men send themselves through some changes as well to get their desired look.
What do you think, could you rock with a man who wore a weave or hair weave or transplant?
Natural hair care advice isn’t exempt from the quote, “There’s an app for that.” There are some great apps on the market, and not all of them are solely for iOS. Why let iPhone users get all the goodies?
So we’re here to help you find some of the best natural hair apps that are also for Android. The advice you need is instantly available on your device home screen and will help you figure out what products you should try for your hair type, offer tips for you and even your children to navigate your hair, and just provide you with support on your hair journey. You can thank us later.
This app is a perfect blend of the natural hair community and a holistic hair and lifestyle journey. You can record memo notes about hair journey milestones, interact with your ‘hair twins’ and rate products. Read the full description on Google Play.
Most beauty pageants claim they’re about celebrating brains and beauty. But the beauty (and body) part often gets a majority of the shine while the brains get whittled to one or two questions on stage.
That’s what best friends Maureen A. Ochola and Jessica E. Boyd hope to change. The two created the Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina pageant, a natural hair celebration also focused on business that’s been disrupting the Southern pageant scene since its 2013 debut in their hometown of Columbia, S.C. It has proven to be a success, so much so that they’re putting on their third exhibition on April 16.
“I had a high-level overview of pageants when we started, and they all seemed to be focused on the just physical aspect,” Ochola said. “What I like about what we’re doing is we’re highlighting natural hair. We take that confidence and add on the business element because that’s really what you need to be successful in business. Confidence.”
The pageant focuses on the beauty of natural hair and the beauty of Black female business owners. Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina started as a program to grow interest and a customer base for the co-founders’ original business idea: a brick-and-mortar natural haircare beauty supply store. They started social media accounts to test their idea first, and the accounts gained popularity.
“The money that it takes to start a store, we really didn’t have,” Boyd said. “We thought: How can we stay relevant and make people continue to be excited until we can get the store open?”
The two chose to think outside the box and celebrate two things they love: natural hair and business. “We thought about a pageant,” Boyd said. “In December of 2013, we announced we would have it.”
The organic success of the pageant was a pleasant surprise to Boyd and Ochola. It gave them the initiative to explore the pageant as a legitimate extension of their original idea. It was clear that such celebrations were needed and gaining quite the following.
“After the first pageant, it kind of took off. We sold out of tickets,” Boyd said. “The impact it had on the girls and the community, in general, took on a life of its own. It wasn’t a question. We had to bring it back and do it bigger and better.”
It’s not a surprise that creativity in business is also one of the pageant’s key themes. Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina contestants learn firsthand about entrepreneurship and small business.
“Last year we added a twist: a business pitch idea because that’s essentially what we’re doing,” Ochola said. “Why not introduce that to these girls as well?”
Contestants attend seminars with coaches and successful entrepreneurs to perfect their business ideas. Instead of a Q&A interview format, contestants pitch a business plan to judges. Half of the inaugural pageant contestants, women ages 19-30, have actually taken action on their proposed business plans and made them more than just an idea.
“When [the contestants] saw that we were able to have the idea for the beauty supply store and also have the idea for the pageant, and were able to execute it on the level that reached across the globe, a lot of them were inspired to go ahead and start their own businesses,” Boyd said.
With the niche angle of the event and the force of social communication, including Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina’s Instagram page, the success of the pageant has brought about admirers, remixers, and straight-up copycats recreating their own versions of the event. Some even in the pageant’s home base of South Carolina. But Boyd says that’s a good thing.
“If this pageant can expand beyond our borders, that’s great! Ultimately, we want it to be the Miss Universe of natural hair.”
The two maintain a positive outlook and say they’re happy to plant a seed for the pageant in their city, in other cities and beyond.
There are tons of social media accounts and many positive online resources that cater to natural hair. Is there a need for a pageant to celebrate natural hair? Boyd thinks so and clarifies that their pageant is about more than just hair. It uplifts its contestants.
“South Carolina has not made the best news. Miss Naturally Crowned is in the center of all that. Imagine how powerful that is? We’re here to be positive, and combat the negative images.”
Both Boyd and Ochola believe the need is there, and the Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina pageant will continue to innovate and expand to meet the needs of its contestants and its audience.
“Being in a pageant not only brings you the confidence, but it allows you to to envision your dreams and bring it to other people,” said Boyd. “When you gain that confidence on stage and in business, nothing can really stop you.”
The application deadline to join in as a contestant in the Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina contest is Sunday, January 31. To support the Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina pageant, you can donate on their website as an individual, sign on as a business sponsor, or attend a local event.
LaKrishia believes every woman has the power to choose her own adventure. She’s the founder of BeautyShock.Me, a platform for Black-owned, indie beauty brands. She writes about creativity, lifestyle and big ideas at ARMOURELLE.com.
Marathon protective style challenges, style preferences and plain laziness cause you to carefully tuck your hair under wigs and weaves. But what about your real hair? She should get some shine, too. In most, reasonable cases, wearing weaves and wigs is about a style preference. But if you can’t fathom the thought of stepping out without your wig or weave, it might be time for a sabbatical. More celebs are showing off their real hair, like its a mane event. (Sorry, I had to do it!) Maybe you should consider doing the same–especially if this sounds like you:
You haven’t changed your style in more than six months.
A bundle of premium Remy is, well, a premium. It’s a luxury. There’s nothing wrong with a daily serving of “treat yo’self.” What’s the point, though, of donning luxury tresses if you’re not styling them to their full potential? Treat your real hair by experimenting with an intricate style during your next trip to the salon.
Your weave or wig is your Best Friend, and “She” has a name you use in regular conversation.
Wigs make great companions. They compliment everything you do. You turn your head, she swangs in unison. You brush her down, she stays put. A co-worker spills the tea, she holds the secrets. You and Best Friend are a dynamic duo. But, maybe Best Friend wants to visit her other homegirl, Mannequin Head. Let’s allow their friendship to bloom by giving “Tonya” her space while you give your scalp some space to breathe, too.
You collect and store bundles like sneaker heads collect “J’s.”
No one wants itchy “pack hair,” and I totally understand that. There’s always the lure of the “ultra luxe, ultra premium virgin hair from a saint in the making” that will be the only bundle you need to round out your collection. Great–achieve that goal. Go to great lengths for that hair. But don’t forget that you have the Real MVP growing out of your scalp. Your natural hair wants a little game time.
You wear the same wig every. single. day.
And no one knows what your real hair looks like. Feeling stagnant or stuck in your style isn’t a symptom of modest, chingnon wearers. It affects glamazons with gorgeous, shiny hair bundles as well as dedicated custom wig wearers. Give your favorite wig a rest. “She” has one job and she’s working double overtime. Give your wig a two-week vacation before she quits on the job from exhaustion.
You’ve finagled a way to deduct hair expenses on your taxes.
If you are doing this, you and your accountant need to step away from every single strand of Remy. It sounds crazy, but I wouldn’t mention this if such schemes weren’t confessed to me. Bundles and bundles of weaves and wigs are not your new LLC tax write-off. A weave technician is not classified as your employee. It’s better to save money by wearing your real hair before Uncle Sam snatches a few tracks for his beard.
You have more hair products formulated for wigs and weaves than you do for actual hair.
Being a wig product junkie is a sure sign it’s time to gently place “Tonya” back into her suede dustbag for storage. Roll back that stocking cap and loosen up those cornrows. Listen to your hair when it bargains with you to “Give us us free!” Then do it!
Listen, in all seriousness, you look beautiful either way, and you know it. There’s nothing wrong with endless mermaid hair, a steady supply of Marley hair for crochet braids, or a fly wig in a dope hair color. But as easy as it is to keep your hair on constant hideaway, there’s nothing wrong with giving your head a break and allowing the hair you already (hopefully) know and believe is beautiful to shine.
LaKrishia believes every woman has the power to choose her own adventure. She’s the founder of BeautyShock.Me, a platform connecting you with Black-owned, indie beauty brands. She writes about creativity, lifestyle and big ideas on her personal blog, Armourelle.
It’s been a while since Marie Kondo’s book devoted to extreme minimalism, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, gained popularity. Many women, myself included, have since become very interested in exploring minimalism and have started the process of practicing it by eliminating stuff sitting around in our homes that don’t bring us joy. But what happens when you’re a beauty and hair product junkie? Does a minimalist beauty routine mean we’re doomed to wearing the same warm, gold eyeshadow and burgundy lipstick every single day and ever after? Blasphemy!
The hardest part of ‘tidying up’ isn’t the act of tossing unused, expired stuff in the trash. It’s admitting to ourselves that we’ll never use those items and that they’re taking up space, making life, particulary, our beauty routines, more complicated.
We don’t need to go on a rampage of throwing everything away immediately, but acknowledging the products we neither use nor need and coming up with a plan (whether that includes storing them away or giving them away) is a start. A minimalist beauty routine does have it’s perks. Let’s talk about five of them.
Beauty Minimalism Reduces “Decision Fatigue”
There are only so many choices we can make in a day. Agonizing over whether to wear black eyeliner versus brown or blue shouldn’t be one we allow to drain us of our decision-making power for the day. There’s a reason top brainiacs at tech startups–think the late Steve Jobs and Elizabeth Holmes–reach for the same black turtleneck and jeans combo. They reserve their thinking power for ideas bigger than surface things like gel vs. liquid liner.
Beauty Minimalism Helps You Find Products That Actually Work
When we finally get rid of all those jars of expensive, half-used hair products, we start to see a pattern forming. Take inventory of the products that you really love, and that work for your hair and skin. You’ll soon notice that you use a core set of products that compliment the way you style your hair most often. Once you cut what you don’t need, things will come together. Often, it will be something simple like Shea butter or coconut oil, products that that can pull double duty for both your hair and your skin. And just like that, you now have a minimalist hair regimen.
Beauty Minimalism Saves Money–Lots Of It
Purchasing what we need rather than what catches our eye at Sephora, Target, and the like not only keeps us from losing two hours drooling over fragrance rollers, but it also keeps us from overspending. We can focus on using the items we truly enjoy in their entirety. Embrace spritzing the final drop of perfume rather than panicking that it’s empty. It’s satisfying to know a beauty product delighted you so much you now have an empty container and made the most use of it–and your money. One empty container is better than five quarter-empty bottles and jars going to waste.
Beauty Minimalism Helps You Discover Your Signature Style
Stripping away everything from neglected makeup to clothing leaves us with only the pieces we love and use on a daily or weekly basis. No more “special occasion” makeup, jewelry or dresses means you make the best of what you have. Plus, you’ll start to wear those pieces more often, while discovering new ways to rock the stuff you already love. An expensive cocktail ring you admire but never wear could become your new signature accessory.
Beauty Minimalism Gets You Out the Door, Fast
Gold eyeshadow? Check. Coral blush? Check. Black gel liner swooped into a sharp cat eye? Check. A simplified beauty routine on autopilot helps you put yourself together quickly. It makes you more confident and you know you look good by default (because that makeup combination always looks great on you). Keeping only the best of the best leaves you with only the best. Get it?
Tidying up to create a minimalist beauty routine takes some discipline–especially when it means letting go of your stash of pricey hair and makeup products sitting under the sink. It can happen, and it can actually make you feel more stylish, more beautiful, and more creative.
Watch this video from YouTube beauty guru Ambrosia Malbrough, where she talks you through creating a simplified beauty routine for more inspiration. Remember: Less is more.
LaKrishia believes every woman has the power to choose her own adventure. She’s the founder of BeautyShock.Me, a platform for Black-owned, indie beauty brands. She writes about creativity, lifestyle and big ideas at ARMOURELLE.com.
“I’m Happy That They Stuck With Those Choices” Shanice Williams Talks Plethora Of Natural Hair In “The Wiz Live”
If you’re anything like me, you still smile at the thought of NBC’s recent live broadcast of “The Wiz Live.” It was such a beautiful display of the brilliance of Black people, Black women particularly. And I’m very appreciative of everyone who helped bring that production to our television screens.
And even though it’s been weeks since it aired, there are still little behind the scenes secrets that are being released that make us appreciate the production even more.
If you looked at any of the promotional photos for “The Wiz Live,” you might have noticed that Glinda the Good Witch of the North, played by Uzo Aduba, rocked a curly blonde wig. But in the actual broadcast, Aduba’s hair was a braided, updo natural style that was elegant and regal, resembling a crown.
That was no doubt intentional.
In a recent interview with theGrio, Shanice Williams, who played Dorothy in the broadcast, explained the decision.
“I know you saw the promo pictures for Glinda with the blonde hair, and we was like, ‘Good witch doesn’t have to have blonde hair, she can have her natural braided up hair, like an African-American queen.’ I’m happy that they stuck with those choices. It added to her character. She’s just funky, modern and fierce.”
Many of the Black women in the play, from Shanice to the background singers and dancers, rocked a plethora of natural hair styles, showing the splendor and versatility of Black hair.
And for Shanice, it was even bigger than hair.
“This was the perfect time for The Wiz. It shows that we’re African-Americans, we’re doing something positive, and we’re bringing joy to people, and anyone can do anything.”
yes, Yes, YES!
You can check out the rest of Shanice’s interview over at theGrio.com.
My older sister first decided to go natural back in 2004. She was the first person I had seen go from Dark & Lovely boxes to trying to grease and pick out a fro on a daily basis. The naturals in the community I lived in were very few and far between, and they all were natural because they had never put a perm in their heads. But for every other Black girl and woman I knew, it was shiny, short bobs with just the right amount of bump at the ends.
But my sister Veronica, who was finishing up college at the time, was the first person I knew to wake up one day, go to the shop, and have her relaxer cut out of her hair.
I didn’t get it.
It turned out to be confusing for other people too. There was a lack of understanding and appreciation for her hair choice at that time, and my sister would later remark that a lot of assumptions were made about her being a pro-Black or militant (read angry) Black woman. Her hair was also used as a diss by men she rejected, who would make remarks after the fact about her “nappy a– hair.”
Yeah, it wasn’t an easy transition at all.
But my sister stayed with it. She genuinely felt like her hair was healthier than ever before. And more than anything, she liked it. Therefore, she didn’t care who was for her style or against it. She learned what products worked on it, and she stayed positive about it all. Her choice to go natural would eventually inspire a few of her friends to go natural, as well as me and my other sister, who have since ditched relaxers for curls and locs years later. Veronica, like a few women you probably know, helped to promote positively the natural hair movement that has since expanded and exploded.
Nowadays, things should be much easier for everyone.
If you go natural, you’re usually not the only woman in a room or train car who is. There are all kinds of products out now that cater to natural hair, with beauty brands seeing the demand. There are YouTube channels and sites that consistently offer product reviews and tips on how to try new things with your hair. Nowadays, you don’t have to go it alone.
But with every movement, some find a way to try and create division. Some people decide that we need to dictate the rules of what it truly means to be natural. Of what it means about your self-esteem if you’re still one of the few women getting consistent relaxers. Some complain about the lack of representation of different hair types on TV and in ads. And simple systems meant to help you find the right products for your hair type become something like teams, where some say the struggle of 3B hair is nowhere near as real as that of a woman with 4C hair.
And that’s where the meme you see above comes in.
A co-worker shared it with me, and as you can see, it says that in order for someone to really be a part of the natural hair movement, they can’t support one type of hair (the looser curls) while leaving another type (the tighter curls) out to dry.
As I looked at the commentary over the image, I did see a myriad of responses. But I will say that most reactions were speaking on how women with kinkier hair textures often feel like they’re ridiculed over their hair. How those who know their texture is more on the 4c side won’t commit to going natural because they don’t want to deal with the comments or the maintenance.
“…the point of this pic is saying don’t support natural hair movement only for the more looser curls or waves patterns and not show love for the women like myself who have more coarse textures wanting to where [sic] our hair natural as well,” one woman said.
And while I thought about the reality that you don’t see as many women whose hair looks like the woman on the right on TV, and we are often told that our hair looks “unkempt” by some, I couldn’t drink the Kool-Aid this meme was serving.
I don’t see anything wrong with reminding people that there’s beauty in all hair textures, but I’m not a fan of trying to define who really is and really isn’t a part of the natural hair movement. I’m not here for the rules. I’m not here for people arguing over who is and who isn’t receiving enough adulation.
I’m also not here for people who expect everyone to love their hair for them.
Too many of us decide to go natural, and we have this warped idea that once the relaxer is all gone, our hair will immediately look like Tracee Ellis Ross’s.
Lies! Lies from the pit of hell I say!
And when our hair doesn’t look like what we imagined, we do what we can to try and change it. We follow YouTubers whose hair texture looks nothing like our own. We cover up our own hair with nonstop wigs and extensions (but still tell other women with natural hair, “Cause you know I’m natural too…”). We try to force wash-n-gos when Lord knows our hair will just coil up and refuse to bend to the will of our combs afterward.
When these things we deem as disappointments happen, then we feel like our hair textures and types are not appreciated or cute, then we pit one texture against another, and memes like this are created.
But you have to learn to love your own hair. Isn’t that the point of all this?
It’s not meant to do what anyone else’s does and what you deem a disappointment is truly a lesson in what does and doesn’t work for your locks. If you’re natural because you truly want to learn about and embrace the hair God gave you (or in my case, you want to see what it can do without being altered by a relaxer), then we have to stop focusing on everyone else’s head and do what we can for our own. Style your hair in forms that actually work for your texture. Do your research. Try your products. Learn your hair and appreciate the ups and downs of it. From the way it looks after a good twist-out to the way it shines in the sun. To the drama it gives you when you don’t cover it up before a nap to the shrinkage you deal with on a humid day.
I could be wrong, but I thought going natural was about embracing your strands instead of worrying about what others tell you is good and bad hair. I didn’t think it was supposed to be a club where only certain types get access, or you have to prefer every kind of head of hair to truly be #TeamNatural. It’s all becoming a little too serious.
It’s all a process, and in many cases, it can be a long process to fully embrace your strands. But when you are confident in your hair, you don’t need to seek outside validation or compliments or self-esteem boosts from third parties. It may be nice to hear, but it shouldn’t make or break your decision to grow with your hair. Because you didn’t big chop or trim off that last bit of relaxer for the world or to fit into some kind of club in the first place.
Or did you?
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…