Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Black Hair Perming/Relaxing Products Sales on the Decline: A Sign of Natural Hair Progress!

The American economy continues to suffer, as evidenced by the fact that one of America's major cities, Detroit, has gone bankrupt and is short in terms of pension money and planning to cut pensions from people who earned them and the third largest city in America, Chicago, is also experiencing pension deficits and other financial problems.  Although these are only two examples of financial woes, there are many others including high unemployment, particularly in the Black community, increasing numbers of people needing food stamps (also known as SNAP) to eat, low wages, steadily increasing percentages of children in poverty and homelessness all around us.  Hence, it makes sense that folks are counting every dime and deciding what is necessary and what is not in terms of purchases. All of this leads to a very interesting point,  which is that less money is being spent on hair relaxing/perming products by Black women.  Does this mean that more Black women are going natural in terms of their hair styles?  Honestly, it is hard to say because besides perm as an option for not wearing one's hair naturally, Black women are also wearing weave.  Unfortunately, there is no data, at least that I could find, as to whether the wearing of weave has declined, which is quite expensive.  As for relaxers/  perms and Black women,  there is an interesting story on this issue from which you will find quotes below (source: http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/beauty-and-personal-care/hairstyle-trends-hair-relaxer-sales-decline)

The first quote from the article  states:

But new research from Mintel reveals that natural may be the new normal in Black haircare, as relaxers account for just 21% of Black haircare sales and the sector has declined 26% since 2008 and 15% since 2011 when sales reached $179 million—the only category not to see growth.
Mintel’s research estimates the relaxer segment will reach $152 million this year, down from $206 million in 2008. Furthermore, in the past 12 months, nearly three-fourths (70%) of Black women say they currently wear or have worn their hair natural (no relaxer or perm), more than half (53%) have worn braids, and four out of 10 (41%) have worn locks.
The article goes on to attribute this decline to Natural hairstyles per the following quote: 
The natural hair trend is driving an increase in sales of styling products such as styling moisturizers, setting lotions, curl creams, pomades, etc., but the increase has caused the relaxer segment to decline in sales,” says Tonya Roberts, multicultural analyst at Mintel. “A look at expenditures from 2008-2013 shows steady growth in the Black haircare category for all categories except relaxers/perms.”
So the question that arises is whether or not we can truly attribute this decline in sales to more women wearing their hair naturally.  It seems logical as it may be due to enthusiasm and recognition of the beauty of wearing one's hair naturally as it grows out of one's scalp.  As mentioned above, it may also be attributed to economics.  There is no doubt that Black women who wear their hair naturally tend to buy lost of products as they figure out what to do with their hair in terms of style, but once Black women get in touch with the feel of their natural hair again, start coming up with beautiful natural hair styles and getting compliments galore, the need to try all different types of products and spend massive amounts of money doing so, begins to slow down.  Black women get into the groove of their natural hair, figure out what works and many begin to make their own products from natural oils, etc. that are in their home or cheap to buy. 

In a nutshell, moving towards one's natural hair is the best way to go economically as cutting down on wasteful spending on products that are bad for your hair because they are comprised of harsh chemicals and that change the essence of who you are, is definitely not progress.  So the conclusion of N.I.C.E. is that if there is a decline in the purchase of perming/relaxing products by Black women, no matter the reason behind it, definitely that is Natural Hair Progress!

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