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Markets & trends

USA: For their hair, Black women embrace the natural beauty trend

As the natural beauty trend takes hold across the US, it seems Black women are fully embracing their natural hair. According to a new research from Mintel [1], more than half of Black women say that wearing their natural hair makes them feel beautiful. One of the main consequences is the decrease of the haircare market in this segment, except for certain categories such as shampoos.

Black women are most likely to say they use five or more haircare products at home (43%)  — Photo: © Flamingo Images /

Black women are most likely to say they use five or more haircare products at home (43%) — Photo: © Flamingo Images /

Chemical-free preference

Black women in the U.S. are increasingly opting for chemical-free with no-heat hair styling (40%) and for natural (no chemicals) with heat styling (33%). With the majority (87%) of Black women agreeing that health is the ultimate beauty accessory, more and more consumers today are just as concerned with what’s not in their beauty and personal care products as what is included. In fact, 70% of Black women say they prefer to read ingredient labels in haircare products so they can avoid certain chemicals.

Increased consumer interest in avoiding damage to their hair has resulted in damaging effects to the category. In fact, total haircare expenditure among Black consumers overall is estimated to reach $2.51 billion in 2018 in the U.S., a -2.3% decrease since 2016, as a result of at-home relaxer sales declining 22.7% over the same period. However, shampoo and conditioner are soaking up sales as Black women prefer caring for and styling their natural hair on their own. As such, spending on shampoo has grown 12.2% in the last two years, while conditioner has grown 7.3%.

Multifunctional products

Actually, the penetration rate of hair care products is much higher among Black women than among any other demographic in the U.S. With regimens and maintenance systems for nearly every hair type and concern, Black women are most likely to say they use five or more haircare products at home (43%). Today, a wide collection of haircare products with specific benefits is commonplace, especially among younger Black women, as those aged 18-34 are the most likely to say they use haircare products such as deep conditioning treatments (59% of 18-24-year-old Black women vs 37% of Black women overall) and edge control (58% vs 26% overall).

However, Mintel research indicates women are eager to streamline and personalize their routines with multifunctional options. Looking ahead, the option Black women are most interested in is haircare products for multiple uses (57%). “Black consumers are more interested in product innovation that addresses their concerns rather than new haircare methods,” said Toya Mitchell, Multicultural Analyst at Mintel.

On-line purchases

When it comes to purchasing new products, online shopping is on the rise. Beyond learning about styles, it seems social media is where Black consumers are doing their shopping as well. One third (32%) of Black consumers purchase haircare products online, including one quarter (24%) who shop for haircare products via online-only retailers - a nine percentage point increase over those who did so in 2016.

Black consumers are looking for products formulated specifically for their needs and they are more likely to find them online. While mainstream retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target have expanded their product selection, smaller brands are often offered as online-only exclusives.

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