Take Sarah Breedlove, better known as Madam C. J. Walker, who made her fortune by developing hair and beauty products for black woman back in the early part of the 20th century. Walker set out to answer needs that weren’t being addressed by the beauty companies of her day.
Walker’s spirit and vision are being amplified by Sundial Brands, which has unveiled a new line that honors the entrepreneur and philanthropist: Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture, a prestige four-collection/25 SKU hair care line exclusive to Sephora.
“Madam C.J. Walker was the first person to devise and scale a business model that addressed the hair care and beauty needs of women of color, while also challenging the myopic ideals of the beauty industry at that time,” Richelieu Dennis, CEO of Sundial Brands, said when the line was announced. “Today, Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture is poised to challenge those same ideals in the prestige category with our revolutionary new products and cutting edge formulations that provide women with any hair texture with a new standard of beauty—their own.”
According to Dennis, in partnering with Sephora, the “launch represents another step forward in our rich history and continues Madam C.J. Walkers’ legacy to help every woman feel confident to embark on the life she desires. It’s also a dream come true not just for us, but for the millions of women who have been touched by the legacy of Madam C.J. Walker and the millions more who will be inspired to reach their own levels of greatness by hearing her story.”
Amityville, NY-based Sundial assumed ownership and the trademark from Madame C.J. Walker Enterprises in 2013.
Added Dennis, “We aim to give this brand back to the world in the elevated, iconic manner deserving of a woman who defied the limitations of her time and accomplished what no American woman had done before—in hair care, beauty or business. That spirit of audacity, inspiration, empowerment and ingenuity still lives in women today and is reflected in every part of this brand.”
“We are taking an iconic brand and bring it back to life. It has been a labor of love,” said Sundial’s Richelyna Hall in a phone interview about the range, which consists of four collections that address the cleansing, treatment and styling needs of all hair textures, including three styling collections formulated with six multi-tasking oils that help nourish, condition, detangle and seal in moisture.
The range includes the Brassica Seed & Shea Oils Collection, Coconut & Moringa Oils Collection and Jamaican Black Castor & Murumuru Oils Collection. Each have the lead oil as an individual SKU, which can be used for treatment and conditioning boosts and refreshes in between full washes, as well as blended for more personalization according to hair needs.
Sundial is keen on the line’s use of dual encapsulation technology and Brassica seed oil, both of which are first to market. The encapsulation technology infuses hair with two natural oils—one reparative, the other style-enhancing—delivering nourishment exactly where hair needs it most. Tiny microspheres infuse hair with targeted, time-released nutrients to rapidly boost conditioning benefits, according the company.
A natural silicone alternative, Brassica seed oil has an excellent antioxidant profile that results in a natural shine, smoothness and silky softness without the potential for buildup, according to the company.
“We are constantly looking to build our ingredient playbook,” said Hall. “Silicones allow for performance, but there are people who are looking for an alternatives. We are providing them with the choice.”
The Customer is Always Right
Serving customers evolving needs is also at the heart of Jacksonville, FL-based Creme of Nature, which has taken on high profile spots at New York Fashion Week and this month will debut as the official hair care partner of the upcoming comedy “Barbershop: The Next Cut.”
With more than three decades of market experience, checking in with consumers helps drive the company’s NPD.
“Research, research, research. Whether it’s qualitative or quantitative we are constantly learning from our customers,” said Jolorie Williams, vice president, marketing, Revlon Professional Brands.
As for NPD, Crème of Nature takes continues to look at oils, how they deliver additional benefits to the hair, said Williams.
“With Argan Oil for example, we were the first ethnic brand for women of color to use this good for your oil in our products and we don’t see it going away. We are still finding ways to share the educational benefits of Argan Oil and maximize its use within our brand. We are also impressed with shea oil and coconut oil along with new ingredients found in our new Creme of Nature Certified Natural Ingredients line—including Coconut Milk, Mango and Shea Butter and Acai Berry & Keratin. We have formulated an entirely new line with these ingredient families and cannot wait for consumers to try them and experience the results.”
Also new to the Creme of Nature stable is Moisture-Rich Hair Color with Shea Butter Conditioner, billed as affordable at-home hair color formulated with a combination of specially blended dyes, conditioners and polymers. The ammonia-free color delivers multi-dimensional color from root to tip and 100% gray coverage. The six shades include Jet Black, Light Golden Brown, Red Hot Burgundy and Honey Blonde as well as Vivid Red and Lightest Blonde, both of which were unveiled in March.
An array of colors and styles are norm today when it comes to hair, as consumers are embracing all kinds of looks, including natural texture. In fact according to Mintel, sales of styling products have increased 26.8% from 2013 to an estimated $946 million last year, accounting for 35% of Black hair care sales in the US (well ahead of the 16% it represents in the total hair care market).
According to Mintel’s data, the shift to natural has impacted sales of relaxers, which fell 18.6% from 2013-2015, and the research group contends this segment may soon lose its spot as the second-largest in the Black hair care market.
There’s also been shifting ownership in the sector. For example, in December, Strength of Nature acquired the Motions, Just for Me, Consort and Groom & Clean brands from Unilever. The Savannah, GA-based company—which owns African Pride, Beautiful Textures and Dream Kids among other lines—also picked up TCB’s business in Africa, making it the full owner.
“The Motions, Just for Me, Consort, Groom & Clean and TCB brands are beloved and trusted with a strong legacy, high awareness and great potential. Each provides an excellent foundation for renewed growth and expanded innovation. We look forward to building these brands,” noted Mario de la Guardia, CEO of Strength of Nature.
Natural Ingredients Drive NPD
A quick look at late 2015 and early 2016 rollouts proves that natural ingredients, especially oils, continue to drive NPD in hair care.
Taliah Waajid has rolled out Pure & Natural Shea-Coco, a new line designed to nourish and define textured hair. The collection launched online late in 2015, and moved into Target, Walmart, Sally Beauty Supply, and local beauty supply stores in February.
The Pure & Natural Shea-Coco range has five products that have 97.7-100% natural ingredients: Pure & Natural Shea-Coco 2-in-1 Conditioning Co Wash, Pure & Natural Shea-Coco Monoi Oil Natural Serum, Pure & Natural Shea-Coco Condition Daily Leave-In Conditioner, Pure & Natural Shea-Coco Curly Hair Curl Soufflé and Pure & Natural Shea-Coco Natural Hair Style Cream.
Perfect for men, women and children, the range offers the highest amount of naturally derived ingredients in its products, according to Waajid, who created Black Earth Products, her first line, some 20 years ago, and is also the founder and presenter of the World Natural Hair, Health & Beauty Show, which takes place in Atlanta this month and comes to New York City in July.
ORS Olive Oil is addressing the hair needs of naturalistas with a line of styling products that couple its hero olive oil with other oils—think pequi, moringa, grapesee and avocado—to elevate performance. The range includes Smooth & Easy Edge Gel, Strand Strengthening Styling Gelee, Smooth Control Styling Gelee, 2-n-1 Shine Mist & Heat Defense Spray and 12-n-1 Style Defining Crème Gel. Suitable for all hair types, they are ideal for curly, kinky and wavy hair, notes the brand, which is part of Namaste Laboratories.
A new launch from Dark and Lovely is Au Naturale Moisture L.O.C., a regimen inspired by the L.O.C. method—the layering technique (leave-in, oil, and cream) used by women with naturally curly hair to maximize moisture retention. Formulated with a powerful combination of nurturing ingredients including coconut and moringa oils, Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Moisture L.O.C. penetrates deep inside the hair, leaving hair deeply nourished, shiny and healthy for a full week. The range is comprised of five key products: Sulfate-Free Cleansing Shampoil, Deep Conditioning Delight, Super Quench Leave-In Spray, Soak It Up Oil Cocktail and Lock It In Sealing Cream.
Canadian hair care brand Jirano contends it is quickly becoming a go-to for curly haired women looking to obtain beautiful defined curls. Its Multi-Ethnic Curl Care System, which is free of silicones, parabens, sulfates and contains no harmful chemicals, is sold online and in select high-end salons in Toronto and Montreal.
Products are coconut-, keratin- and shea-based, and include an amalgam of other all-natural ingredients in a formula that’s proven to reduce breakage, while providing the perfect balance of hydration, flexibility and strength for curly hair, regardless of origin. Company founders, twin sisters Jane and Jedi Nyachiro, in fact, refer to the line as Multi-Ethnic (“Me”) for that reason.
Jamaican Mango & Lime’s newest launch is Pure Naturals with SmoothMoisture, which is said to address the problems of dryness, breakage, split ends and frizz with a unique blend butters, oils, vitamins and honey that penetrates and surrounds overworked strands and locks in long-lasting moisture. The seven products in the line include Coconut Milk & Honey Shampoo, Coconut Leave-In Conditioner & Detangler, Shea Oil Styling Serum, Coconut Butter Crème, Coconut Milk & Honey Hair Masque, Coconut Moisturizing Cream Hair and Coconut Conditioning Mist. All are mineral oil-, petrolatum-, paraben- and sulfate-free.
The use of natural and exotic ingredients isn’t relegated to hair care. CVS has unveiled an updated Salma Hayek Color Cosmetics Collection. Chemists have infused the makeup line with botanicals and unique ingredients that are found in the Nuance skin care, hair care and body collections.
Products include Endless Eye Effects, weightless, ultra-fine powder eyeshadows with argan oil and an innovative blend of silicone-infused mineral pigments; Flawless Finish Naturally Luminous Concealer, which is formulated with ginger, green tea, and vitamins A and E and cold-pressed Inca inchi seed oil; and Flawless Finish Contour & Illuminate Duo, which contains gardenia and tepezcohuite to tone, condition, and reduce inflammation.
Mother Knows Best
Even as more products hit salons and store shelves (and show up online), industry observers say there is still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to products that address the needs of all beauty consumers.
In fact, not being able to find a product that works could very well push more entrepreneurs into the beauty category as modern day Madam Walkers.
Like Selma Idris. This Sudanese-American mother of two is the founder of The Brown Crayon Project, a Brooklyn-based start-up that launched a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign this winter to produce what she contends will be the first certified-organic, chemist-formulated line of hair and skin care products for babies, toddlers and children of the diaspora. (As this issue headed to press, the company had surpassed the $21K mark with 15 days left in the campaign.)
“I am my audience…I am a Brooklyn mom with two children of color that is addressing my own unmet needs. I am not unique; the US is becoming more diverse and there are very few products that address the needs of babies, toddlers and children of color. There are even fewer all natural products and other than The Brown Crayon Project, there are no certified-organic product lines designed for children of color available,” she told Happi.
The range—which includes Everyday Hair Food, No-Rinse Skin Bath, Everyday Skin Whip, Wake-up Hair Mist, Sunday Oil and Hair + Skin Bath–will be ready for delivery in August. The range is designed to be a complete system, according to Idris, who told Happi that she and other moms just like her had to pick and choose from available products in their quest to find that safest options that didn’t “hate our hair.”
Indris continued, “Our products are practical solutions that moms like me have been looking for, made by a mom like them.”