Black women and Hair care products

Major decline in relaxer cream; could natural hair wave be to blame?

Ashley Montgomery | 11/14/2013, 9 a.m.

Are the days of sitting in pain and waiting for your relaxer to “take” (the process of hair relaxing) becoming a thing of the past? Recent studies show that hair relaxer sales have declined 26 percent over the past five years. And while hair styling trends and product launches have always been prevalent in the Black community, it isn’t often that we have seen such an increase in natural hair styles.

According to Mintel’s consumer trends research, relaxer sales were at $206 million dollars in 2008. Research estimates the relaxer segment, will reach $152 million this year, down $54 million.

“About 60 percent of all my clients have natural hair now,” said Flossie Simon, hairstylist and owner of Keep It Cute Hair and Beauty.

Recently, Nielsen reported that Blacks' buying power is expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2015. This report also showed that Blacks make an average of 156 shopping trips per year; beauty supply stores have an average household penetration rate of 46 percent. Also, the average Black household spends an average of $94 in local beauty supply store each year.

Fiona Hutchinson, a hairstylist for over five years at A Kinky Thing hair salon, says that she noticed the trend ever since Chris Rocks’ documentary, “Good Hair.”

“I have watched people stop getting perms and go natural, it’s the current hair trend right now and I don’t see it dying down anytime soon,” Hutchinson said.

Mintel's research shows that in the past 12 months, nearly nearly three-fourths (70 percent) of Black women say they currently wear or have worn their hair natural (no relaxer or perm), more than half (53 percent) have worn braids, and four out of 10 (41 percent) have worn locks.

Popular relaxer lines like Dark n’ Lovely and Motions have too gone “au natural” in order to keep up with the growing demand of natural hair enthusiasts. Perhaps you’ve noticed specialized products popping up in the hair care section now more than ever.

Black women are willing to shell out top dollar to change/maintain their hair. More than half (51 percent) agree that it’s worth spending more money on hair care products to achieve their desired looks while 39 percent say they like to experiment with new hair care products.

“I’m so glad the stigma behind natural hair is breaking down to the point where businesswomen are confident in the workplace wearing their natural hair,” Simon said.

Simon went on to say that “more than anything else, people have the most influence on other people and now that the knowledge is spreading more and more Black woman have embraced the beauty of natural hair.”