Sa-Shea away leave our hair products alone!

Emilie Doumbouya

For years, people of color have embraced Shea moisture products catering to naturally coily and curly hair. The family owned business, inspired by a grandmother who sold shea butter across the Sierra Leone countryside nearly a century ago, has prided itself on empowering and meeting the needs of people of color. 

When I first heard about the brand several years ago, I was ecstatic that it embodied us. As one of the few hair product companies founded by a person of color, it designed products with textured hair, waves and coils in mind. I proudly spent double digits at my local CVS pharmacy, knowing that I was supporting a brand that valued me. 

However, many people are now questioning whether shea moisture and other hair products are authentic as we once believed. Over the past few months, the go-to-product line for many naturalists including myself, has done some questionable things such as changing its formula and selling the company to larger companies which has left its most loyal social media customers, people of color, feeling confused and quite hurt. 

It all started when customers noticed something was different with their favorite shampoos,conditioners and styling creams. The products known for natural ingredients and deep hydration were no longer leaving waves or curls the way they used to. The product has sold its company to Unilever and changed its formula causing many people’s hair to dry out and it was no longer defining my curls.    

I was then able to confirm my suspicion when Shea moisture released a commercial with a white straight haired woman holding the product. The brand was intentionally trying to attract a new customer base that caters more towards white women. 

It was not just the ad that caused hatred but the change of the formula sparked controversy against the black community. 

This phenomenon is not limited to the Shea moisture brand. Another hair product brand, Cantu, has also altered their products in order to cater to women outside of those with textured hair.  They also changed their formula, leading lots of women to look for another product. Women with textured hair make hair companies billions of dollars every year. We tend to focus on our hair care routine more than anything else during our daily routine. Having a hair product that is easily reliable is a necessity. 

How could a brand that prides itself on celebrating textured hair suddenly abandon its devoted customers for a new base