Women in the black community have thrived in fabulous hairstyling for years. Invented by Madame C. J Walker in 1905, the hair relaxer also referred to as the ‘creamy crack’ appears to be the most reoccurring element in this styling/alteration process of our Afro hair. Most black women can identify with having their hair relaxed at a very young age and have grown up to repeat the chemical process in order to maintain the style it creates.
There is without a doubt an appeal for straight hair in the western world. Hollywood beauties such as Megan Good, Nia Long, Lauren London, Gabrielle Union and many have been recognised for their signature straight long hairstyles. Some prefer it as it looks ‘controlled’, glamorous and is sometimes considered the standard for professionalism.
“I wrapped my hair the night that I got back from the salon (after a fresh perm). The next morning I tried to unwrap my hair and I had a cap of puss, really sticking substance… I was in so much pain!” – Ambrosia Malbrough
As time passes, Madame Walker’s creation has and continues to become a multi-million dollar business accounting for 21% of Black hair care product sales. However, statistics have recently shown that those sales dropped by 26% in 2008 and had another dip of 15% by 2011. Research estimates that relaxer sales will plummet again to $152 million this year, a long way from $206 million in 2008.
The evidence is undeniable, women’s interests in chemical hair treatment has faded to some degree. While this is true, the reasons for these depleting numbers have greater meanings. One of which suggests that black women are finding other ways to express themselves with their hair and are ‘going natural’!
As we become a more health conscious society, this allows us to consider risks of using the chemical straightener. Thus, making relaxer sales far more challenging. Many women have claimed that there are benefits of relaxer free hair – referring to it as getting over the ‘creamy crack’. Natural hair YouTube gurus have videos talking about their experiences and the reasons why they went natural.
“My hair was thinner and it started breaking off so fast (using relaxers)… then I realised I was killing my hair!” – HairCrush
Afro textured hair hit the hair and beauty industry by storm with media figures such as Oprah, Solange and Janelle Monae rocking their hair natural and proud. In essence, as black women develop self-acceptance and self-pride of their natural hair are they sabotaging the relaxer business?