If you’re a naturalista, it’s no news nor is it a surprise that natural hair products can cost you an arm and a leg. This can be discouraging, especially when most women (and men) are deciding to wear their hair natural to avoid the harsh and toxic chemicals found in relaxers. Essentially, black people are having to jump from the pot into the fire when it comes to their hair.
According to the May 2018 Nielsen Consumer Report, approximately 86% of ethnic hair and beauty purchases can be attributed to black consumers. Because brands understand the power of Black Dollars, they have made it their mission to target black people in their advertising. However, most brands have not put the same thought into making sure their products are safe for black consumers. In fact, according to a five-year study performed by Women For Wellness , hair products for black people are some of the most toxic on the market.
I know you’re probably wondering that if hair products for black people are toxic, why then are they so expensive? The short explanation is it’s mostly about BRANDS and their branding… and making a profit. Brands that sell toxic products can sell them for higher prices by claiming that the products will work wonders for you hair. Brands that sell toxin-free products (or so they claim) can sell them for an even higher price by using the “toxin free card” to their advantage. I know most people think that toxin-free products should cost more since a lot of work goes into making sure the product is excellent, but I think that defies all logic; if a product has less ingredients, then it should cost less, shouldn’t it? Also some people claim that most companies that sell toxin-free products are small companies fighting for the same market with larger companies, so they have to spend more money on advertising and brand awareness. By this logic, if everyone is already familiar with brands like Shea Moisture, As I Am and Taliah Waajid, are these companies still spending as much money for brand awareness, or simply milking the consumers? Black consumers, if I must add.
Now that you have a rough idea on why ethnic hair products are priced the way they are, the next question on your mind is how do you, as a consumer, protect yourself from the sharks? Well, I have a few pointers:
- Try Samples
If you’re still new to the whole natural hair game, play your cards right by trying out samples of the products that you’re interested in. You can get samples from most beauty supply stores for under $2 a packet. Once you try the sample, you can then commit to buying the product IF it works to your liking. Here’s another trick: whenever I make a purchase at my local beauty supply, I always ask if they have free samples…and they almost always do.
- Take advantage of Sales
If you want to save money, you have to always be on the hunt for sales. Assuming you already have a product line or products you like, check stores like Target for BOGO. Also, use coupons…even if it’s just to save $1.
- Only buy what’s necessary
Shampoo, conditioner, oil and a leave-in conditioner are the bare minimum. In fact, you don’t even need a leave in conditioner: you can simply dilute your regular conditioner and get the same results. For curly hair, you might want a gel. Want, not need.
- Know how to make a few DIY products
Spend time learning how to make your own deep conditioners, butters and other hair essentials. I only recommend this if you are crafty and willing to do the research. Otherwise don’t bother because DIY products have a short shelf life.
- Know which household items can help with your hair
Baking soda. Apple cider vinegar. Avocado oil. Such great product. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar work great as clarifying shampoos: they remove product buildup from your hair and scalp. There are lots of YouTube videos that show how to use these products. Avocado oil is a lightweight oil and works wonders as a sealant. This is the part where I would have recommended coconut oil, but not after this Havard Article.
- More expensive doesn’t mean better
This is self-explanatory. Before you shell out your hard-earned money on hair products, think about whether you’re getting value for your money. Are there any cheaper alternatives? Do you absolutely need the product? That’s your job as consumer to think about this kind of stuff because the seller isn’t thinking about you, they just want your money.
- Attend natural hair festivals
There are lots of natural hair festivals all over the globe. Check EventBrite, Facebook and other social media to see what may be happening near you. You can usually get products at a lower price and also score some samples. You can also interact with other naturalistas and learn about their haircare regimens… all in a safe place.
Now go forth and save money, and while you’re at it, may your afro grow and your skin glow and you flow through life.