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Hair relaxer companies must be fuming! Sales for the proverbial “creamy crack” have plummeted 26 percent over the past five years, and as The Grio points out, the industry’s future doesn’t look too promising either.

Two years ago, MN reported that relaxer kit sales dropped 17 percent between 2006 and 2011. New information from Mintel, a consumer trends firm, finds that relaxer sales has, again, taken a nosedive. In 2008, relaxer kit corporations reeled in a $206 million profit. In 2011, their revenue dwindled down to $179 million — a 15 percent decrease. This year, Mintel expects profits to plunge down to $152 million.

“The natural hair trend is driving an increase in sales of styling products such as styling moisturizers, setting lotions, curl creams, pomades, etc., but the increase has caused the relaxer segment to decline in sales. A look at expenditures from 2008-2013 shows steady growth in the Black haircare category for all categories except relaxers/perm,” Tonya Roberts, multicultural analyst at Mintel told the site

The lead authors of the research found that a large majority of Black women (70 percent) are natural or have worn their hair natural over the past 12 months. Furthermore, 53 percent of African-American women have worn braids and 41 percent have worn locks this past year. “African-American women increasingly opt for styles that don’t require them to chemically alter their natural curl pattern,” The Grio adds.

On the flip side, shampoos and conditioners formulated for Black natural hair has skyrocketed. This year profits are expected to peak at $257 million which is up from 2008’s $211 million. This is a 22 percent increase in just three years.

Styling products for the upkeep of natural hairstyles are also, of course, reaping the benefits of the natural hair trend. “The styling products segment has also increased from $220 million in 2008 to an estimated $268 million in 2013,” Mintel notes. Relaxers are the only Black hair care products that have dropped.

Mintel also found that more half of Black women (51 percent) are willing to spend top dollar for a product to maintain their precious kinks and coils. Forty-eight percent of women revealed that they felt new sense of confidence when they wore their natural curls and coils. Nearly 40 percent admit that they “like to experiment with new hair care products,” the Grio adds. Social media is one way they learn about new products.

“Given their passion and love of hair, Black consumers represent a lucrative market for companies. Black consumers are always looking for new products to try and seeking information about haircare products,” Roberts says.

Keeping up with the changing times, L’Oreal and Pantene and a number of other hair care brands have ditched the championing of straight hair and have begun selling natural hair products, like Dark and Lovely’s Au Naturale line.

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