To All the Black Hair Products We've Loved Before (and Now)
As POPSUGAR editors, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. If you buy a product we have recommended, we may receive affiliate commission, which in turn supports our work.
If you've been blessed with kinks, coils, and everything in the curly between, you're likely well-versed in the measured dance that takes place within the cathedral-like walls of hair shops across the country. Thanks to innovation within the Black hair space — brought about by both Black beauty founders and a community forged online — we've seen a seismic shift in how information and products for Afro and multitextured hair is communicated and sold.
After being historically ignored by the mainstream beauty industry, Black women have begun to reclaim space for Afro hair and for Black people, and the result is that shelves are now full of products that promise to
hydrate strands, tame edges, treat damage, and add length and shine. But as we know, this was very much not always the case. Between a single lone shelf in drugstores to the high street shops providing Black hair care brands frequently not owned by Black people themselves, until quite recently, Black people have been very limited in their hair-care choices.
That means the products that were available became an integral part of the Black hair experience in the UK, whether it was your first relaxer box, braid-lengthening packets of Xpressions, or jar of Eco Styler. And praise for these brands is long overdue. These beloved products have filled our shopping baskets and washday arsenals for decades and helped us to nourish and style our 'fros proudly — a long-lasting relationship that now drives around 10 percent of the UK's hair-care spending.
Black hair and our connection to products is not one to be underestimated as mere materialism, according to Ava Welsing-Kitcher, a beauty editor and expert on all things Afro hair. "I'd say we're in the midst of one of the biggest turning points of Black hair history. The industry's finally paying attention to the power of the Black pound and dollar, and there have never been more products on shelves created for us, or by us, or both," she told POPSUGAR. "And thanks to emblems of Black hair history like the Afro pick — a tool that dates back to Ancient Egypt through to Ghana's duafes, all the way through to its symbolic use during the Civil Rights Movement — it's clear that Black hair products have always been more than just a tool."
With that sentiment in mind, we look back at the lotions, tools, and serums that have helped to shape Black British hair over the years, as well as a few recent game-changing introductions.