Natural Hair Care industry gains steam

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Kinky, curly, twists, braids, and Bantu knots.

Wichita Falls salon owner Jerrica Castle says it's all about embracing one's own unique natural beauty.

The women, who some call Naturalistas, are rejecting the antiquated notion that what has been historically considered good hair has to resemble straight European hair textures.

"I really feel like it's a big movement for women. It's really saying don't straighten your hair, it's really saying wear the hair God-given, its really saying its ok to be you  - don't hide."

With Black consumers spending $2.65 billion dollars on hair care products in 2016 -  that means big money for natural hair care products.

Mahisha Dellinger launched "Curls" 16 years ago after noticing a lack of products for afros, waves, and curls. Today, it's nationwide in several major retailers.

"We were 100 percent e-commerce when we launched and very, very small. All the experts or the people in the industry assumed it would be a fad. it's been around now for all these years. It's not a fad."

As more women choose to go natural - beauty industry giants now want to build their own brands. Cosmetic powerhouse L'Oreal bought popular line Carol's Daughter and Shea Moisture was recently sold to Dove soap's parent company, Unilever.

When Sequoia Blodgett stopped using chemical relaxers to straighten her hair, she shared her journey on social media.

"A lot of the times we've been told straight is beautiful, you see that on all the publications, you see that in the media."

But that limited idea of what beauty looks like in the media is changing. In television news, some women of color are rejecting the idea that straight hair equals credibility and embracing their curls. When I started wearing my hair natural as a television news anchor earlier this year the response from the viewers was swift and overwhelmingly positive. One viewer even wrote that I was an inspiration to women.

Some women of color say they have also felt pressure to conform and wear their hair straight in the workplace, and feel that it could affect their career negatively if they don't.

"It makes you feel like you don't fit in. Like if you don't have straight hair then you won't succeed, you won't get those positions. In life, you need to look a certain way.

Naturalista and Rica Salon client, Vickye, has been a Naturalista for years. She says when she worked at her corporate job management made it clear they preferred her hair straight. Now retired, Vickye says it's been a relief going curly.

"I'm free. I can be who I am. I really have enjoyed just being wavy and curly whenever the opportunity permits itself."

Whether we're talking about the shift to natural hair as it pertains to the beauty business, the media or our workplaces - Jerrica Castle sums it up best.

"We have to simply love ourselves. Love who you are naturally."

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