Ten British Black-Owned Beauty Brands Challenging South Asian Male Dominance of the UK Black Beauty Industry
There are over 1.8 million black people in the UK, yet black women often travel miles to find a hair salon or beauty shop that caters to our needs. It’s common to hear of women trekking from the North to the South simply to get some braids done or even just to find specific hair products. In 2016, seventy percent of Black women felt that the high street did not cater for their needs. The UK beauty industry has historically ignored the needs of black women, opting not to sell hair products suitable for afros regardless of Black women’s high spending potential. Despite this, black women dominate the hair industry in the UK, accounting for eighty percent of total hair product sales. We spend £5.35 billion pounds a year on our beauty, with the average black woman spending £137.52 more on their beauty products per year than anyone else. While the white world has ignored our needs, another demographic has made billions from the sale of black hair products. South Asian men.
South Asian men spotted the niche in the market and managed to become the key players in the black beauty industry. It’s disconcerting that every time I step into a ‘black hair shop’, I’m asking a South Asian man to help me find the right product for my natural afro hair, when he has zero experience or understanding of it. Black women also bemoan the customer service we receive in these shops. We’re often followed down the aisles and treated as criminals, revealing the shop owners’ prejudice and belief that the very black women they’re selling to would also be thieves. The biggest chain of black hair and beauty products is Paks Cosmetics, owned by Saghir and Tanvir Hussain. They’ve dominated the market with an online shop, wholesale outlets and taking up huge spaces in key locations that quash any attempts at black-owned competitor stores popping up. The stores don’t even sell many black British products, with over eighty percent being imported from the US. Shopping in these stores often feels like a betrayal. As black women who spend a large sum of money on hair products, we should be upholding and sustaining Black British brands instead of lining the pockets of South Asian men who have little experience of our hair. The UK market has ignored our needs for so long, the least that we deserve is to benefit from the ignorance of white British brands and have our own stores that support our own communities.
One of the best options is to turn to Black British brands online that are catering to our natural hair and beauty needs. Let’s support the Black entrepreneurs that are trying to reclaim the black beauty market for our communities.
Nyuri.co.uk is a website that recognises how difficult it is to find great Afro-Caribbean and Mixed Heritage Hair and Beauty services in the UK. The website makes it easy to find services local to you, no matter what part of the UK you’re in!
Afrocenchix is a black hair brand created by two friends who met at University, Rachael and Joycelyn. They write, “At Afrocenchix we believe the little things in life should be simple. We blend natural and organic ingredients with expertise to make hair care as simple as possible. Supporting Britain is important to us so we work with UK scientists and chemists to formulate high quality products, we manufacture in the UK and support British suppliers. Our products are never tested on animals, our raw materials are ethically sourced and we use environmentally friendly preservatives.”
Founded by Ibi Meier-Oruitemeka, The Afro Hair & Skin Co. is an award winning afro beauty and wellness business located along the beautiful English coast. We are dedicated to creating truly organic and natural products carefully crafted by hand, using fresh natural, and locally sourced ingredients that will feed your skin and hair with all the goodness necessary to blossom and be truly healthy.
4. Antidote Street
Antidote street is a platform that lets you buy black-owned hair products, the majority of which are British! It’s a marketplace that fills the gap in the market for black women searching for new products and black-owned brands.
5. Big Hair No Care
Big Hair No Care™ was founded by Freddie Harrel, top UK fashion blogger and confidence coach. Frustrated with the poor quality of regular synthetic extensions, and the difficulty to get a beautiful protective style when both time and skills are poor, Freddie got to work on designing easy-to-use clip-ins with a more realistic texture and lower maintenance needs. But this was back in 2013 and initially for her own use; in 2016, she started bringing it your way: Big Hair No Care was born. They sell premium synthetic hair clip-ins, weaves and wigs at reasonable prices!
L.O.G Cosmetics founder writes “As a makeup artist and certified organic skin care formulator, I began to infuse natural oils, butters and fruit extracts to create products that nourish the skin. So over the years we have seen our ideas, creativity and passion for beauty come together. Our company prides itself in offering high quality natural cosmetics for all women. We strive to ensure that our cosmetic products are made with safe ingredients.” Not only is L.O.G Cosmetics a Black British owned makeup brand, they also sell hair products for natural hair!
7. Modie Haircare
Following her frustration at the lack of premium natural hair prouducts available in the UK, Modiê founder Janette Nzekwe made use of her biochemistry degree and 10 years experience working in the pharmaceutical industry to launch her own brand. Modiê Haircare exists to create a safe space for black women to express themselves, just as they are.
Akua Wood of Sheabutter Cottage founded her toiletry brand Cioccolatina in November 2002 in response to her frustration in trying to find a natural range of toiletries to moisturise her skin, as well as to fulfil her need to work at home. "The British cold, damp winters and raw winds came as a shock when I moved to England" - especially to her skin.
A Ghanaian native who had spent a year studying in Italy, she was used to kinder climes ... and better moisturisers. So she made a virtue out of necessity and started concocting her own, using an ingredient native to her country of birth: shea butter.
9. SUNU KËR
Sunu Kër was founded by British/Senegalese artist Aïcha Daffé in early 2016, inspired by her experiences of living and working in Senegal, West Africa the previous year. Like many young women of black origin, she had spent years and (not to mention a small fortune) building a hair and beauty regimen that worked for her back home in the UK, only to find that the natural raw ingredients she used whilst living in Africa provided results she didn't even know were possible for her skin and hair.
Sandra Brown-Pinnock is the founder of the company “Haireverlasting” and the creator of the “Xsandy’s” brand of hair extensions. She is an ambitious and tenacious individual who ensures she works with the best manufacturers to produce the highest quality hair which is subsequently used for her brand of extensions. Her store is the only black-owned hair and beauty store in the Lewisham area.
Article by VERVE Operative & Blogger Chanju Mwanza