I found myself wandering the haircare aisle at Target recently, marveling at all the curl brands that lined the shelves. As I Am, MopTop, Eden Bodyworks, SheaMoisture, Jane Carter, Carol's Daughter, Miss Jessie's, to name just a few of the available options. I could choose from dozens of different styling products and conditioners - products designed especially for my texture. It was a much different landscape 17 years ago when we were sitting around at a brunch, complaining about our curls and our lack of options. At that time, we just took our lack of options for granted - the lack of options; a lack of options when it came to finding curl-savvy stylists.
And worse than all of that was the lack of respect that curls and coils got in society. Straight, "sleek" hair was the standard of beauty in beauty magazines and in pop culture. When that brunch bitch session led to the launch of NaturallyCurly.com, we didn't intend to add fuel to a fledgling revolution. We just hoped we could provide a place for fellow curlies. We thought maybe a few hundred people would find us and they'd find some tips and support and maybe wouldn't feel so alone.
What we couldn't realize then, but what's become clear looking back, is that we had tapped into a growing discontent happening among women. - and some men - around the world. In a pre-blog world, We provided them with a platform to talk about their texture.
This was truly a grassroots movement driven by entrepreneurs who were mixing up products in their kitchens, mastering their cutting and styling techniques without the benefit of formal training and writing about natural hair in their spare time. On NaturallyCurly, blogs were born and products were created. Stylists, who might have been working their magic on curls in salons without much fanfare, were developing huge followings with curlies traveling hours to get their ringlets snipped. It was a truly democratic, bottom-up revolution where a one-woman brand could give a major brand a run for its money.
It was a truly democratic, bottom-up revolution where a one-woman brand could give a major brand a run for its money.
And the big brands took notice. With each new product and each new blog, the growth of the natural hair movement was becoming a revolution - defying those who believed it was a passing trend that would once again be tamed by flat irons and chemical relaxers. I recently was asked to put together a presentation on the top texture trends that I've seen emerge from this movement. They include:
- Huge growth in the availability of products from brands both large and small designed specifically for texture.
- An emergence of a new kind of celebrity - bloggers and vloggers - who have as much if not more clout with hair care consumers than models and actresses that traditionally have served as a brand's spokesman.
- The slow disappearance of the ethnic aisle in favor of “Curl,” “Texture,” and “Multicultural” sections that pull in women with a variety of textures.
- A new generation of stylists who actually understand how to work with texture - whether it be super coily or wavy. Although cosmetology schools still don't teach their students how to work with curly or coily textures, some brands now offer curl training.The changing perception in the media and in the workplace that curly and coily hair can be both glamorous and professional.
And we've just begun.