Sometimes #BuyBlack Means We Can’t Keep Black Brands for Ourselves – AOL

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Chile, it’s not even a month into 2023 and the beauty girlies are back at it again. This time, micro-influencer Alix Earle made a now-viral TikTok about her best 2022 purchases, which happened to include the Mielle Rosemary Hair Oil.
This might not seem like cause for concern, until you consider that Alix is a white woman and the aforementioned hair oil was specifically created for people of color with textured hair. And after Alix shared her admiration for the oil, her millions of followers took action and, well, you know how this story goes. The oil immediately went viral and has become yet another thing that the Black community held dear and feels like is being pulled from our embrace. Read: good ol’ fashioned appropriation. Anyone else getting flashbacks to that whole Hailey Beiber brownie-glazed lips saga or white women being credited for the clean girl aesthetic, when our aunties have been rocking that style for ages? Ugh, the nerve.
I get why Black women are upset at the beauty gurus on TikTok. The market is filled with tons of hair oils for fine and straight hair compared to the very limited products for textured and kinky hair. I mean, South Asian women and women of color with straight and fine hair have been using ayurvedic beauty practices for years, so let’s not act as if there aren’t plenty of oils and serums.
But Mielle Rosemary hair oil is a product intentionally created for Black people. So it is high-key triggering seeing a bunch of straight-haired folks take the word of one white woman—as if her word is gospel—and run to their local Targets to buy an oil that was created for Black textured hair. Thanks to their insensitivity, the oil is selling out everywhere and the girlies with textured hair (like me) are struggling to find it.
But I’m gonna let y’all in on a little secret…if the people with straight or thin hair want to buy rosemary oil that’s made for textured hair, I say let them. Let them listen to some influencer whose background in beauty is *checks notes* nonexistent and buy a Black woman’s product that supposedly works well on their hair type and texture. Because the joke’s on them for not making educated decisions.
And before you get your panties in a twist about the supply chain, let’s be real here. There are other Black-owned brands that sell similar growth and strengthening oils. So while we’re patiently waiting for Monique to restock (ahem, sis this is your cue to answer my pleas for more oil!!), why not try my personal fave, the Curls Blueberry & Mint Hair Growth Serum? There’s also the Camille Rose Cocoa Nibs + Honey Ultimate Strength Serum and the Pattern Hair Oil serum that might work just as well.
The founder of Mielle, Monique Rodriguez, has already made a statement promising their formulas and targeted demographic *cough* Black women *cough* won’t change:
“We’ve been together on this ride for awhile, so you know that my journey with Mielle started from a place of creating the product I wasn’t finding in the marketplace. We remain forever committed to developing quality, efficacious products that address the need states for our customers’ hair types!”
Now, there’s also the eyebrow-raising news that multinational giant P&G is acquiring Mielle Organics. The brand will now operate as separate subsidiary of P&G, but Monique and her husband Melvin Rodriguez will stay on as CEO and COO. I’m not going to lie to you—I’m wary, but I still think the jury is still out on what this will mean for the product. I hope it stays true to its promises to Black women with textured hair.
Two things can be true at the same time: This situation is extremely frustrating and a Black woman entrepreneur is actually winning right now. A sista is winning, even if we don’t like how she’s winning at the moment. Because—hear me out—we need our desire for Black women to thrive to be deeper than our annoyance in this moment. Plus, white brands profit off of Black culture all the time, and we *still* put $$ in their pockets, so we should be happy that one of our own is getting her check.
That said, don’t take my “I want Black women to win” attitude for passivity. Our anger and sadness are valid in a world where appropriation is real. I challenge us to look at the bigger picture: A Black woman entrepreneur is building her brand and creating generational wealth. There’s not a lot of us making it happen, so let’s be proud that she is. I am.
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