Surely L’oreal, are we not worth it?

Surely L’oreal, are we not worth it

I’ve mentioned that I’ve grown up in Australia Melbourne.  This meant growing up around people who were very different from me in more ways than one.  As lonely as being the ‘only black’ this or that amongst the general population was, it taught me a lot about western culture, western way of thinking, and the western lifestyle. Mostly it taught me about the secret lives of western women. Their beauty treatments and the way they cared for their hair, and their attitudes towards life. In my friends and work colleagues I observed a sense of self entitlement, a belief that they deserved the very best in life. That included their beauty products.

My friends spent what I sometimes thought where questionable amounts of time and money on their personal appearance.  What has this got to do with you, you make ask? Getting there shortly.

Unfortunately a lot of the products designed for black hair don’t exactly fit into the category of the best. It’s a wonder your hair is breaking.  First of all, you grow up being brain washed about the beauty of straight hair, and then as an adult, you battle your whole life to achieve this look, only too often be let down by the very products that are supposed to make your life easier, your hair more beautiful and manageable.

This picture of this little girl with the perfect hair is on the Soft Sheen Carson Website, the company L’oreal bought in 1998/1999 and one it’s been running since. Must be part of their current advertising campaign. I also went to the L’oreal website to check out their brands. I wonder why Soft Sheen Carson or any of the other products in their range aren’t listed on the L’oreal website? This is a company that L’oreal owns and runs, isn’t it? Also anyone with a black child, would you want your children to be marketed with such images. How many black children’s hair can look like this and why have they dedicated a whole range of hair products for black children’s hair styles. There isn’t such a range for anyone else is there! I can just see the outrage if there  was a perming product directed at caucasian kids. I hope there isn’t.

The packaging is often a tale tale sign. Cheap! I always get suspicious when I pick up a product manufactured for black hair. I just don’t trust them.  And then there’s the prices! They are cheap and at the lower price end. I guess they see most of us fall into the lower social economic bracket, they don’t believe we can actually afford to pay for good hair products, so they don’t bother supplying them. Have you noticed that there isn’t a high end price product range for black hair products? Coincidence or do they think we’re just cheap.

There are major cosmetics companies behind the name of some of the black hair products. Alberto-Culver, Ales Groupe, Dudley Beauty, Johnson & Johnson, Johnson Products, Johnson Publishing, L’Oréal, and Procter & Gamble being the major players. All multi-billion dollar companies with resources to do better than they are doing.

L’oreal owns Soft Sheen Carson who own the following brands: Dark and Lovely, Roots of Nature, Optimum Care, Lets Jam, Sportin Waves’, Hi Rez, Weave Care, Sta so Soft, Wave Nouveau, Care Free Curl. Surely L’oreal, are we not worth it?

The way we black women treat our hair and the expectations that we have and what we ask from the world is very little. We are easily satisfied with substandard hair products that we’re sold. We have the technology to send men to the moon but we can’t come up with a hair straighter that doesn’t burn our scalp or damage our hair?

As a consumer group we have the right to demand better hair care products from the manufactures. I think anyone who has experience hair breakage or poor results from any of the products that they have used should complain to the manufacture instead of putting up with it.

The most common complaint I’ve always heard from black women is the complaints that their hair mostly is difficult, is a nightmare, they just don’t know what to do with it. Most of them have basically thrown in the towel. The Black hair care industry needs to be revolutionized.  I don’t know anyone whose ever complained to a company about their relaxer.  It’s not the hair’s fault that it breaks after chemical treatment. It’s the chemicals itself.

Where do we start? First of all there’s the deplorable collection of chemical treatments that are meant to straighten our hair.

I really don’t know what’s worse? the evolution of the idea that there is systematically something wrong with black hair, that the only management or treatment of it, is it’s transformation to more manageable straight hair has always had me baffled. But we have been indoctrinated into the belief that African hair needs to be tamed and the only way to tame and manage it, we’ve been told is straighten it. Somewhere along the line we’ve been taught to hate our hair, in essence hate ourselves.

We often sabotage our hair by torturing it and wonder why it fails us all the time. The major ingredient in relaxers is sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide, powerful caustics that burn the scalp and possess the ability to melt metal.

My hair Story

I’ve only ever relaxed my hair twice in my entire life, I wish I could say I’ve never. But I’ve done it. I had succumbed to the social pressure that is I think unfairly placed on black women, that to be attractive, your hair has to look European. Unfortunately this pressure starts in the home. The first introduction to a relaxer or a straightener is usually at home. For some, it’s almost like a coming of age. You’re 16, becoming a woman, how about you start relaxing your hair?

Then you start dating and your black boyfriend will be the first to tell you to straighten your hair. I told him to get lost.

The first time my I relaxed my hair, first it turned red brown, then broke and I vowed to never do it again. Oh but I did. To satisfy a crazy black woman who thought that the presence of my fro in her bridal party, was classless and wanted no dirty nappy hair in her wedding photos. She got her wish.

I cut my hair immediately after, I couldn’t stand it. I lost the volume and texture of my natural hair and had this lifeless limp of fluff on my scalp that I deeply resented and couldn’t really style. That was almost ten years ago, and despite a brush with a texturiser that had been forced onto me by a black hairdresser in Melbourne. I had no idea what a texturiser was or did, accept for the fact that he said it would make my hair easier to manage. I don’t remember telling him that my hair was difficult to manage. He just assumed I guess by the size of the afro and the fact my hair was afro that it was difficult to manage. It wasn’t. But the texturiser certainly turned into a nightmare. My hair became unmanageable, course, and even turned red. The pigment in my hair is very weak and doesn’t take much to have it stripped away.  Three months after the disaster, I found myself in Melrose Drive and walked into a hair dresser. I went in there because the previous day I had walked passed, I’d seen a black man in their doing someone’s hair.  This time I walked in and found a Peruvian woman working away. I didn’t care that she wasn’t black, I simply begged he to cut my hair. She was a little bit hesitant. She’d never cut black hair before. I didn’t really care, I begged her. I couldn’t go on like this anymore. Take it all off. For the second time in my life, I was down back again to a size two hair cut after another chemical disaster. I’ve never chemically attempted to alter the nature of my hair again. And never will.

That was almost six years ago. My hair since then? Well I never relaxed or texturized it again. I haven’t coloured my hair either. What I decided to do is take a page out of my Caucasian friend’s hair regime.

The first thing I did was stopped using products that were supposedly supposed to be for my hair. I also stopped buying cheap shampoos and started putting treatments into my hair just like they had told me they did.  At around the same time I also put a stop to breading. I don’t have a problem with it but my scalp wasn’t a fan. It would get itchy and unlike some people who can have their hair in braids for up to three months, I could barely last a month. I took up twisting. I’ve been twisting my hair since then. It gives my hair so many different styling options.  Small twists, large fat twists, sometimes I twist the twist into round little balls.

I’d get a different effect with the different twist. I also started getting the tips of my hair trimmed and for this I tried a few white hair dressers. I never again had my hair touched by a black hair dresser again.

Why I chose white hair dressers was because I noticed that because most of them had never dealt with my hair type, they were very careful and unlike black hair dressers, they were against relaxing and perming my hair.  Instead, would battle with a blow dryer to straighten every kink in my hair and then GHD it. They always cut my hair dry after blow drying it straight. Although two have done it without straightening my hair. I prefer it blow dried.  The price varied from $70 to $90. I didn’t mind. It used to happen every three months, now it’s every six months so it’s worth it.

I had tried asking for a hair cut from one of the hair dressers in Footscray, but I had been told by the African women running the salon that they couldn’t do it unless I got it straightened chemically first.

I’ve never come back disappointed from a cut although the quality of the blow dry has varied, my main aim was achieved, and that had been to get my hair cut.

I have had a few hair setbacks. I went through a stressful period which resulted in my hair breaking and falling out. There were no chemicals involved with this fall out. Stress can be a B***h and mess with your hair and your health, but as soon as I noticed that, I decided, vitamin therapy.  I also increased the quality and type of protein in my diet. I ate more fish more often, eggs, and assortment of raw nuts. I took vitamins and mineral supplements that supported health hair growth and gave myself a realistic goal. I read somewhere that black grows a little less faster than white, about 1-1.5 cm a year.

Fact: Hair is almost 91 percent protein, and is made strong by its composition of amino acids.

First to get healthy then to grow hair. This whole journey has taken almost five years. Last year I got sick of my hair and just didn’t care. I noticed that when I didn’t seem to be watching it, it seems to have grown a lot.

I decided that I could expect my hair to grow about 10 cm a year. I’ve had to factor in my scalp condition (eczema), breakage, and a previously low protein diet and stressful life events which have been unavoidable.

My hair Regime.

I wash my hair twice a week because of my scalp and just this week have decided to start using a sulphate free shampoo which I’m very happy with the results at the moment (will do a review of the product by the end of the week, I want to use it twice, before I get all excited). I always condition.

I have also started massaging my hair at least twice a week, have been oiling my hair before a wash, using starflower oil (organic) which is supposed to be good for hair and skin. I also use this oil on my skin before bed and sometimes during the day when my skin feels excessively dry.  Very happy thanks.  I’ve always conditioned and I’ve started using a Brazilian Cacau hair treatment and Brazilian Cacau live in treatment.  I really love the hair treatment, my hair has felt a lot softer after using it at least three times, I’m not so sure about the live in treatment. It’s not the product but the extra amino acid that my hair just doesn’t need that is causing it to stick together and there resulting in hair breaking knots!  Have had to stop using it. I used a hair balm from Aesop, Australian brand. Will have to use more of the product before I can make any further comments

My hair don’ts

Cheap Products

Relaxers

Cheap straighteners and blow driers. They will damage your hair!

Be careful with protein or amino acid rich hair formulations. Not everyone needs it, I found that shampoos and conditions with amino acids or proteins made my hair harder to manage and caused breakage.

My Hair Dos

Health diet rich in proteins. This is a must. If you’re not healthy, you can’t grow healthy hair and it doesn’t matter what else you do, growth is not going to be maintained.

Treat scalp problems if you have them

Massaging scalp to stimulate blood circulation

Always try to use products that are as natural as possible

Depending on the health of your hair, get it trimmed regularly. The healthier the hair, the less trimming it requires.

Daily hair moisturizing with a light moisturizer

If you’re going to blow dry or use a straightener on your hair, please use a heat protector to protect your hair from damage

Know your products and know the condition of your hair.

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3 Comments »

  1. Angela Valentine said

    This is m daughter. She doesn’t have a perm. In fact her hair is very curly. She has had reg trims and conditioning since four years. She is African American ! She represents African American as she is!

    • Hi Angela. Thank you for your comments. Your daughter is very beautiful, she has beautiful hair that does looks loved and cared for. And as you state is natural and is perm free. I sincerely apologize, in no way did I intend to say that your daughter was not representative of an African American because she certainly looks African American. And although she is African American, unfortunately her hair isn’t representative of the average African American’s child’s hair. That is not a reflection on your daughter’s hair or her ethnicity! It’s simply because some people unfortunately associate beautiful hair with chemical treatments rather than the virtues of good hair care which unfortunately is foreign to a lot of people in the black community not just African Americans. In fact your feedback has just proven my point. The image of your daughter is used to advertise products that she doesn’t even use. This gives young girls the false association of relaxer products with beautiful hair and puts them on the false path of drawing an association between beautiful hair and relaxers. The fact that you take good care of your daughters hair and that she gets regular trims and conditioning treatments unfortunately isn’t stated in the advertising used. And that’s what I was trying to get across in my article. Companies like Loreal all prey on our insecurities and desires about beauty, using images to seduce us to buy their products. It’s all about advertising and nothing to do with the individuals who are standing in front of the cameras or whose images are being used. I hope I have cleared this up for you and thank you very much for raising your concerns.

      • Angela Valentine said

        Yes you have. I understand.
        Thanks

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