There has been a lot of changes to cosmetics regulation within the European Union recently. As we now sit outside its reach we await similar changes to UK regulations and that leads me to question previous changes in regulation and how far they reach into our community.
I recently “tried out” a new product considering whether we should create something similar at Airfro. A product that softened curls with each wash and made blow-outs last longer. It was working well until I noticed that my curls didn’t come back. Now you may not know this but about six years ago I cut off all my relaxed hair. Yes, full TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro) and I never looked back. I loved the look, I loved the freedom of having my own hair and the time saved because I could just get up and go. Six years of growth, only natural ingredients and protective styles. As my hair grew it looked great, I have fine hair but it was full and healthy and all mine. It got so long I wanted to do more with it and started to blow dry it. Now, is it just me or is there something addictive about a good blowout? I loved the way my natural hair moved, I could see split ends and trim them, I could see the health of my hair better and I got hooked. I wanted my blowouts to last longer so used a product I didn’t fully read the label of. It didn’t contain formaldehyde, it contained a formaldehyde releasing agent I had never heard of. 😢 (crying emoji). I vow to never let this happen again.
Textured haircare products are regularly sold in specialist stores. Their wide range of products come from all over the world, contain anything and everything allowed wherever they are manufactured and are sold at low low prices. This experience truly delights the customer, the feeling of discovery; products from all over the world coming together just for my hair type. It is a trill. This wide variety of products all under £5 readily available to me so I can try something new without breaking the bank. Will it work? I don’t know but it is all for me so I’m going to enjoy trying it.
And we do enjoy our hair; new products, selecting styles, trying new looks, we invented transformation. I don’t even mind the language of taming unruly curls but what is problematic is the disappointment. Hair damage is one of those things we’ve come to expect. You may have good hair now but just wait till that thing gets you, that weave, that product, that cotton pillowcase! It’s easy to live in fear of hair damage but it’s also a sad expectation when you have textured hair.
It is this perfectly constructed low value experience that so many of us are trying to get away from. I hear you shouting that low cost doesn’t mean low value, and in a lot of cases you’re right it doesn’t. You can buy affordable mass-produced products that give you what you need. However, let’s examine if this is the case for cosmetics created for textured hair.
The reason I called this article The Haircare Apartheid is because as the discussion around hair equality grows and campaigns like The Crown Act come into effect there is still the issue of separation of different types of haircare and how that effects quality, safety and regulation. How is it possible that cosmetic products containing formaldehyde over 0.2% has been banned in the EU (and UK) since 2016 yet we all know where we can buy chemical hair straighteners right now and they all have approximately 11.5% formaldehyde in them. Don’t those retailers know what’s in them? What else is in textured haircare products The Guardian has not yet written about?
Where do we begin to change this? The growing number of products available to us make this a difficult question to answer. And in all honesty, it will start with you. The consumer must ask the questions at point of purchase – what is in this bottle? That’s not easy to answer on a shop floor during your lunch break, or with kids pulling you in different directions and a security guard’s eye following you through the store. To help we’ve included a detailed ingredients guide next to every product we sell. Not just the key ingredients but every single ingredient in every awesome bottle of Airfro.