The Economics of Going Natural (And How to Save Money on Natural Hair Care Products)
There is also the notion of hair being a status symbol, some people tend to think those with natural hair spend less money on their hair care. Therefore, some people think it’s more cost efficient and easier on the pockets and that’s not necessarily true.
Before reaching out to Nicollette, I incorrectly assumed that African American women could save a lot of money by going natural. Apparently, that’s not the case.
After giving us a quick overview of the hair care industry, Nicollette will share some money saving tips.
If you are thinking about going naturally, hopefully these money saving tips will allow you to avoid becoming a member of Broke Phi Broke.
Multi-Million Dollar Industry
Over the past several years there’s been a definite increase in the amount of African American women going back to their naturally textured hair. The natural hair business is a multi-million (possibly billion) dollar industry, with new products and tools being produced almost daily. With natural hair comes a lot of different trials, from styling to acceptance and just generally trying to be confident rocking your natural hair. There is also the notion of hair being a status symbol, some people tend to think those with natural hair spend less money on their hair care. Therefore, some people think it’s more cost efficient and easier on the pockets and that’s not necessarily true.
Embracing My Natural Texture
When I decided to embrace my natural texture, I had a relative ask me if I was having money issues because I stopped getting relaxers. Instead of believing that I willingly wanted to have natural hair, he just assumed that I could no longer afford getting relaxers. Having natural hair can actually be very costly. With chemically unprocessed hair, it is possible to use natural products found at home, but that’s not always the case. Since more women are embracing their natural hair, companies have taken note and adjusted their prices accordingly. Most of the hair products geared towards women with natural hair are already more expensive simply because it says “For natural hair” on the container. At the end of the day, it’s a business and companies are about making money to continue to fund their products and their pockets.
Transitioning to Natural Hair
So, let’s just say you’re transitioning to natural hair, which is the process of growing out your naturally textured hair to get rid of the chemically straightened hair. Having natural hair is completely different from relaxed hair and most of us have not had natural hair in a long time. Learning about what works for your hair is about trial, error and time. Some of the oils that people rave about might not work for you; the super expensive, high end products that you see on Youtube might not work for your hair either. In addition to trying different products, it takes a good bit of valuable time to learn how to style and care for your natural hair. When I was relaxed, many of my styles would last for a 5 days or longer with little manipulation. Now that I’m natural my styles last two days at the most if I don’t do anything to it. In my opinion, I spend way more time on my hair than I did when I was relaxed. I have also heard the same from other naturals. Some of the very popular Youtubers admit that they spend several hours a week styling their hair or caring for their hair in some way.
Expensive Natural Hair Stylists
When I was relaxed, I could go to the salon and get a roller set or wrap every week or a few times a month. Natural hair stylists are massively expensive in my opinion. I’m not knocking the fact that hair stylists’ expertise and experience are extremely valuable, but I just cannot justify spending nearly $100 for a fairly basic natural hair style. Many people also suggest protective styling natural hair, which can be very costly as well. Natural hair often thrives when it is not being manipulated and protective styles such as box braids, sew-in weaves, quickweaves, crochet braids and wigs are some examples. All of these styles cost for labor and supplies (weave) so they can be pretty costly.
Are you considering natural hair?
I know this all sounds daunting, especially if you are considering natural hair, but have no fear, you can save money while being natural. Even though being natural can be expensive, it does sort of force you to take better care of your hair, which eventually leads to gorgeous, healthy hair! Here are my tips for saving money while transitioning to or caring for natural hair:
Six Tips for Saving Money!
Do Your Research!
1. Do your research WITH YOUR BUDGET IN MIND. I cannot stress this enough. There are so many sites and Youtube channels about how to care for natural hair. Find one that not only caters to your hair, but also your budget. Check the prices of any recommended products before heading out to the store to purchase them. Know your budget! When I became a natural I was a struggling college student and I could not afford the big brands at the time (Shea Moisture, Carol’s Daughter, As I Am). I went to Walmart and got the basics: An oil, a gel/holding product, a deep conditioning shampoo and conditioner and a leave in conditioner. Start with the basics and work your way up.
Invest in Hair Accessories
2. Invest in cute hair accessories and/or hats/beanies. Most of us naturals have a hard time getting the hang of styling our hair. I hate to break it to you, but you will have some bad hair days. Instead of getting frustrated or going out and spending a ton of money on another product or going to stylist, have a few hair accessories on hand just in case.
My Natural Hair Support Group
3. Join a natural hair support group. In April 2016, I started the natural hair support group in my area because I was having a hard time with my natural hair. I didn’t know what to do to it, what to whisper to it to make it grow, and I had a hard time just embracing it. I figured that other women were having a hard time as well so I pitched the idea and it became a thing! I have nearly 200 people (men and women) involved in this great cause and it has been such a great resource. Whether it’s venting or inquiring about a new product or swapping products, it’s so therapeutic to get together with others who are going through what I’m going through. If there’s not a natural hair support group in your area, start one! Or even look into ones online or on social media. This can save you money because other naturals can give you specific tips and tricks.
4. Look for free samples or trial sized products. When you’re a new natural, as I said previously it’s about trial and error. Save money by looking for free samples or buying trial sized products. Some companies also offer giveaways on their social media sites, so follow some companies on social media and be on the look out. Last year I won a couple full sized products from Lottabody, so it’s definitely possible. You can get a lot of free samples from hair shows/expos.
5. Practice those styles! Practice makes perfect and it can also save you money. Try your hand a few different styles and try to master at least one or two everyday styles. This will help keep you out of the salon and save you $. If your hair needs a trim or if you are experiencing breakage, definitely consult with a stylist about those things. I only go to the salon when I absolutely must.
Beware of “Organic” and “Natural Labels”
6. Beware of products that say “natural” or “organic”. These products might not always be the best and they are often very expensive simply because of those words. Some people are super quick to toss out all of the products that they used on their relaxed hair without even trying it on their natural hair. Before you toss out your old staple products, try them on your natural hair. There’s no ‘natural hair bible’ that says you must use natural or organic products on your hair. If you want to do that, it’s definitely your choice, but if a product works for you, your hair, and your budget, I say go with it. The best natural/organic products you can buy are usually stocked in the grocery section or are naturally occurring substances such as shea butter and oils.
Hopefully this article helps you to think carefully about your natural hair budget and all that goes along with being natural!
About the Author
This post was written last year by my friend Nicollette Davis. I think she did a wonderful job of writing an analysis on the economics of going natural! She rocks!
Earlier this year, I decided to focus on my own hair (or lack thereof). Since it was receding, I decided to let it go to save some dough. I have not been to the barber in almost six months and this has saved me $300.
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Jerry is a Business Insider Contributing Writer who is obsessed with personal finance. He believes you can improve your financial situation by applying principles taught by the financial independence community to your financial life.
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