Beauty Without Borders

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | April 1, 2014

Leaders in multicultural skin and hair care focus on solution-driven formulations.

With apologies to Tip O’Neill, “All beauty is local.”

Gone are the days of stereotypical beauty—Just consider Hollywood’s biggest stars—Cate Blanchett, Sofia Vergara and most recently, the fresh, youthful face of Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Academy Award this February for her role in “12 Years A Slave.”

Leading marketers are rolling out products that are designed to bring out the best in every woman, regardless of her skin tone or the texture of her hair. That’s because now more than ever, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, according to style-makers like MiMi Johnson, aka Mimi J, a celebrity makeup artist and owner of the beauty site and apparel line “Beat & Snatched” and a bridal beauty team called P3 Lab.

This Atlanta-based beauty maven says that while her clientele ranges from the naturalista to the glamour girl, there’s a common denominator: they all want flawless looking skin.

“I try to emphasize that you need a good skin regimen,” she told Happi

On Mimi J’s must-have list: “really good moisturizer.” Specifically she looks for products with natural ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter and emollients that keep skin hydrated, as well as grape seed extract and rosemary. 

“These type of ingredients are great for ethnic skin,” she said. 

In addition to the heavy emphasis on products with natural ingredients, multi-cultural consumers are looking for personalized solutions.

“Women of color continue to look for products that are designed specifically for them,” said Tricia Green, senior brand manager at Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which has owned the Ambi skin care brand since 2012 and recently launched the Ambi Model Search in an effort to find a new face that will be featured in a national print campaign.

Valeant has expanded the Ambi line with new SKUs designed to keep fans in the brand. Recent additions include Advanced 5% Micro-Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Spot Treatment and Ambi Even & Clear Makeup Removing Cleansing Cloths.

Have It Your Way
Nowhere is the demise of cookie-cutter beauty more apparent than in hair care. The marketplace is rife with products that aim to have women fall in love with their locks, whether curly, straight or somewhere in between.

That last category is exactly what Miss Jessie’s is addressing with its new lightweight styler SKU called Multicultural Hair.

According to Miss Jessie’s founders, Miko and Titi Branch (who are half African-American, half Japanese), being multi-ethnic is  beautiful, but it can sometimes leave women with an uncontrollable mane that needs special TLC. The Branch sisters contend their new styler addresses hair that falls “smack in the middle of the spectrum.”

The light emulsion highlights whatever texture the user is working with, reigns in frizz and leaves hair soft and manageable. The formulation contains safflower seed oil, olive fruit oil and soybean oil, which add much needed moisture to textured hair, as well as calendula flower and chamomilla flower extracts.

Miss Jessie’s has also rolled out Transitioner Magic, a treatment and styling hybrid designed to “86 the awkward stage for women that are growing out chemically altered hair but don’t want to sacrifice length.” The phthalate-free formula does triple duty by soothing and reviving tired, chemically altered strands as well as fighting curl shrinkage and frizz to give hair new life, according to the brand.

“Acceptance of natural hair is at an all-time high,” noted Taydra Mitchell Jackson, head of marketing for Design Essentials, Atlanta, GA. According to Jackson, to build upon last year’s successful introduction of the Design Essentials Natural line at Sally Beauty, the firm has added new SKUs: Almond & Avocado Detangling Leave-In Conditioner and Honey & Shea Edge Tamer, a moisturizing, firmer-hold edge control gel designed for curly to coily hair that securely lays down the hairline.

According to Jackson, the edge control category, although a niche, is on fire right now.

“This is one of our heroes,” she said about DE’s new Honey and Shea edge tamer. “It is one of the only tamers designed for naturally curly hair with stronger hold. It has gotten a big thumbs up.”

Texture management remains essential for hair care companies that want to deliver products designed to help all customers “fall in love with who they are, and give them the ability to manage it,” added Jackson.

Hair Supply
While embracing natural texture is on-trend, straighter styles remain in demand too. It’s all about options, say industry experts.
“Our community spoke to us about wanting the flexibility to switch up their styles without harming their beloved curls, and we listened,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO of Sundial Brands, maker of SheaMoisture. “Hair is an amazing form of self expression and every woman has the right to define beautiful for herself.”

To that end, SheaMoisture has launched the Tahitian Noni and Monoi Smooth & Repair hair care line in Target. The straightening collection offers users the freedom to wear straight or curly styles. The range includes shampoo, rinse out conditioner, high shine glosser, hair masque and a hair scalp weekly treatment. Each contains certified organic shea butter; Tahitian noni, an antioxidant enriched with vitamin C; monoi oil, which revives damaged hair; and keratin, peptides and botanical extracts to nourish, repair and protect distressed hair fibers. 

Meanwhile, another leader in multicultural hair care, Crème of Nature, kicked off 2014 with the launch of Straight from Eden, a new relaxer system that utilizes a straightening creme that is 100% derived from plants to make chemical straightening gentler on hair for better management with less dryness, damage and hair breakage. When Straight from Eden’s two activators are combined, the pH rises to effectively straighten the hair with a less damaging effect, according to the company.

According to Shawn Tollerson, Colomer Beauty Brands vice president of marketing, Straight from Eden is the result of years of research and development.  It is offered in two formulations: Hair Type A for fine, wavy, delicate hair looking to reduce frizz and improve manageability, and Hair Type B for normal to thick hair. 

Points of Purchase
There are more solutions in the multicultural category than ever before, but finding a retail outpost that has a wide selection of products can be a tougher task. While shopping multiple channels might be considered a relatively new trend in the general beauty market, multicultural consumers have had to do this for years, say industry insiders. In fact, the simple task of replenishing one’s beauty bag could mean stops at Target for moisturizer, Sally Beauty for shampoo and a specialty styler, and Macy’s for foundation.

“A woman might have to travel to three of four places to address her needs, and that’s three hours of her day on a weekend,” said Phil Williams, who has founded a new e-com platform designed as a one-stop shop for the multicultural community.

The site, Enchanted Life, features products for men, women and children ranging from skin care to cosmetics to bath and body to fragrance to styling tools. The site currently offers more than 75 brands including Shea Terra Organics, Carol’s Daughter, Mixed Chicks, Butter London and Bobbi Brown.

According to Williams, early data shows that men’s grooming is the second highest traffic area behind skin care. He pointed to Hyd for Men, as a standout men’s skin care offering currently on the site.

“We want to give these smaller brands a national platform,” Williams said.

Enchanted Life is embarking on mobile marketing tour this Spring and will make stops at major US cities. The road trip will feature beauty demonstrations and local experts providing services such as manicures, hair care consultations and shaves.

“We believe we will provide an open forum on beauty, health and wellness within the multicultural community, something that hasn’t been available previously,” said Williams.
Bold face names in the multicultural sector are reaching new retail platforms too. Jane Carter Solution, for example, just landed in Ulta stores and at Ulta.com. The beauty retailer now offers Carter’s cult favorite Nourish & Shine as well as Wrap & Roll, Incredible Curls and Restore Moisture Mist, to name just a few.

“I am glad to also be one of the brands that has had the opportunity to be invited to play in a bigger game,” Carter told Happi. “I think that the decline in women who relax their hair as well as social media branding has created an opportunity for us as well as the brands that will follow in the opportunity to play the bigger ‘drug mass’ game.”

Ulta’s national presence is a long way from the single Cranford, NJ salon that Jane Carter opened in 1982.

“The vision still remains the same,” Carter said. “As a hair colorist and stylist, my clients had the range of hair textures. From high lift blondes to hair color clients with locks. I could never find a product line that I could prescribe to all of my clients. It always seemed like a professional responsibility to find a line that addressed the needs of all of my clients. Obviously, the industry did not see the same need or have the same commitment.” 

A Solution-Driven Sector
Carter’s formulation practices center on performance and the best natural ingredients available; she’s not “category” focused.
“Women with problematic hair are our largest following. They need great products that work and information on how to manage their hair,” she said. “I personally don’t understand the category called ‘ethnic’. I don’t think that ethnicity has anything to do with hair texture… I am finally glad to be able to say that the ‘ethnic’ is now evolved to multi-textured.”
Dennis of Sundial Brands also pointed to changes.

“We’ve seen a new market emerge in personal care that we’ve coined the “new general market,’ which eschews traditional criteria and emphasizes factors related to what people need,” he said. “At retail today there’s the general market, there’s ethnic and different subsets within those. We don’t believe that this sort of approach is healthy for the consumer or the retailer. It feels exclusive because it puts certain consumers in certain boxes and they don’t get to explore other opportunities in the store.”

According to Dennis, his customers are “every person who is interested in a wellness and ‘green’ lifestyle and wants to leave this world a better place than they found it, while finding better ways to take care of their families.”

He continued, “The new general market is not ethnicity based, and it’s not culturally based, because every single human being wishes to live by these tenets. What we try to do is to focus on and meet specific needs that can be shared with all kinds of people. In so doing, a whole new marketplace emerges—not one that is segmented by these different labels —but one that is much more inclusive, embracing and accessible.”

The ability to deliver solutions is how many category leaders measure their success.

“There are so many voids in the hair care industry that I feel honored to have the opportunity to fill in the missing pieces for women who have the money to spend but have not been heard,” said Carter. “In the US just like many other places in the world, there are many people that are looking for ‘hair solutions.’ If we can create a brand that addresses their needs, not black or white, we have proudly done our job.”

SheaMoisture Enters Color Cosmetics Category

• Known for harnessing the power of shea butter to benefit hair and skin, SheaMoisture is branching out into the color category.

“Due to community demand, SheaMoisture took the next step in its head-to-toe “A Better Way to Beautiful” offerings with our color cosmetics collection,” said Sundial CEO Richelieu Dennis.

Fashion fans were treated to a sneak peak during Fashion Week as models at “Project Runway” All-Star Korto Momolu’s Fall/Winter 2014 “Urban Coup” show featured bold pops of color from the range.

The paraben-free makeup line is shea butter-based, with certified organic and natural ingredients, and it features a customizable palette. The collection, which debuts this Spring at Target, includes CC cream, lip stain, lip crayons, wet/dry eyeshadow, mineral blush and other offerings, with a range of on-trend, classic and nude shades that suit all skin tones, according to SheaMoisture.