I think that it’s clear and obvious that the natural hair community (NHC) will be trendsetters in 2018. A lot of people thought natural hair was a temporary fashion craze but now you see naturals everywhere. Well this “phase” has quickly blazed through the black community and has become a fixture in our lives. It’s actually become a home-away from for curly girls like me who have met some amazing women all over the world. It’s rapid growth has been fluid, chaotic and rapid. The craze has become a “movement” that is fluid and continuously evolving. Our value and worth is well over $8 billion dollars just in the United States alone. It’s time that we take a look at where we are now and start designing our future. I envision the ten trends discussed below to be the driving forces in the future of the natural hair community.
- Natural and organic products: Going natural means more than wearing your hair in styles that compliment the hair that grows out of your scalp. For most of us, it also means that we stop using products that contain poisonous and carcinogenic (cancer causing) chemicals developed in a laboratory. The concerns about health risks are rapidly increasing in black families. People are starting to care about health issues such as obesity because it is known to cause cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, pain and mobility concerns among other things. It’s possible that the products we put on our hair and bodies can cause us as much harm as the products we put inside our body. Our response has been to increase our activity levels and start eating better. Have you noticed the number of people living a vegan lifestyle? It’s amazing! It’s only natural (pun intended) that we are starting to apply the same knowledge about the healthy ingredients needed in our foods to the products we use on the outside of our bodies. The knowledge of health risks associated with ingredients in basic hair products from shampoo & conditioner, to detanglers, to creamy crack (perms) is rapidly growing. We know which ingredients to avoid (sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), fragrance, cocamidopropl betaine, triclosan, polysorbates, polyethylene glycol (PEG), dimethicone, behentrmonium chloride, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, and quaternium-15, parabans, isopropyl alcohol, formaldehyde, petroleum). We also know our hair and bodies benefits from products that contain natural and organic ingredients such as honey, olive oil, coconut oil, aloe vera, bananas, avocados, red apple cider vinegar and more. Chemist and engineers have been aggressively developing products with natural and organic ingredients and the natural hair community is fully embracing it.
- Global businesses: The natural hair community is worldwide. The sales of perms have decreased, not only in the U.S., but in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Nigeria, South Africa and many other countries. The internet has created a bridge for an international natural hair explosion. Natural hair product lines are blazing the international markets. The decrease of brick and mortar stores has opened a gateway for natural hair entrepreneurs to sell their products online. More and more companies are offering international shipping. Brands like Shea Moisture, Kinky Curly, As I Am, Jane Carter Solution, Curls, Aunt Jackie’s, and Miss Jessie’s are showing up everywhere. There are new startups popping up regularly who cater to curlfriends all over the world. This also opens the door for other natural hair-related businesses such as media, clothing and accessories too. Just check out Afropunk or Team Natural for all kinds of natural hair gear, blogs, shows, etc. There is so much money to be made in the natural hair industry.
- Popup shops: Have you noticed all of the popup shops being advertised all over Instagram and Facebook? This is an amazing new platform for small business owners to sale their products. It’s taking the country by storm. It’s essentially like a flea market or entrepreneurial fair where small business owners can set up shop and sell their products and services. You never know what you might find – bags, dashikis, natural hair products, hand-crafted jewelry, organic deodorant, artwork, books, or your next stylist. You can find all kinds of treasures to enhance your natural hair experiences at a popup shop. I visited the GR Popup Shop for small business Saturday. I met some cool, self-motivated people and found some delightful items too.
- Technology: Technology has made its entrance in the natural hair community and is not going anywhere. There have been so many apps developed to teach and inspire those of us who want natural hair styles. Vloggers/bloggers like Curly Nikki and Mahogany Curls have apps that publish their own content. There are also apps where you can create a hair journal (like my hairstory), look up hairs styles, learn different natural hair care techniques. It’s a whole new natural hair world out there. I even saw an app for black men’s hairstyles while I was doing research for this article. I downloaded a couple of the natural hair apps. I posted in one that was a social media-like app but it got boring quick. I deleted them all because I’m so into social media. If you know one that I should try, let me know in the comments. Check the play store or I-Tunes to find apps to help you along your natural hair journey.
- Strong social media and mass media presence: Selfie. Selfie. Selfie. We love to see ourselves on Facebook, InstaGram, and Twitter. YouTube tutorials will get you through rough times. The social media networks are full of natural hair guru’s, pages, advertisements, and groups. You can get the skinny on products from people who have actually used them. You can ask questions about techniques and learn from other people’s experiences. If you’re interested in blogging about your hair or have a natural hair product or service to offer, social media will be the place to promote your business.
- Natural hair groups, meetups and events: I love natural hair groups and natural hair meetups. I have met some of the most inspirational and motivating people using these venues. Some of my favorite natural hair groups are It’s All About the Curls (IAATC – I wrote about this groups in the past), Natural Or Not: Hair We Come (NONHWC), and Natural Kinks in tha Creek. The divas in these groups make me wanna slay everyday. NONHWC has meetups all over the country. I haven’t been to any personally but I’ve admired pictures from meetups they’ve held in Texas, Florida and New York. There are plenty of natural hair events already scheduled for 2018. There’s the 17th Annual Baltimore Natural Hair Expo. Chi-town has Natural Hair Fest 2018, but in January there’s also the Natural Hair Fest Mid-Winter. The Carolina Curly Girls are having the 2018 Natural Hair Expo in April. The Detroit Natural Hair Fest goes down in March. Natural hair groups get together all the time in New York. New Orleans puts it down too. Don’t forget about Return of the Curls in the summer. The biggest event that I’ve heard of is the 21st Annual World Natural Hair Beauty Show in Atlanta.
- Heavy influence on art, music and various forms of creative expression. Afros, fists, and black empowerment messages can be seen in contemporary artwork across the world. From canvas, to sculptures, to t-shirts, to TV commercials, you can’t go many places anymore without seeing kinky, curly, loc’d, braided, and coily hair. It’s like the 60’s and 70’s. Black is beautiful again. I’m so thankful to be apart of a community that reminds the world. We are setting trends around the world. There even selling shower curtains with the nubian image of natural hair queens. We create art and we are art.
- Empowerment wear and accessories. Can you make earrings, stationary, planners, calendars, buttons, cell phone cases, t-shirts, or make up? If you can, you need to get with some curlfriends because we are buying it up. We love to see our images represented and natural hair is not just about hair. It’s a lifestyle about self-love, unity, inspiration, and respect. We need our clothes and accessories to represent that.
- Products and stylists for multicultural curls: My name is Leonica and I’m a product junkie. So are many natural hair slayers. We’re always on mission to find that miracle product that will make our curls snap, crackle and pop. Even if we find it, we still look for more; so if you can supply it, we will buy it. Shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, aloe vera based products are in demand. We don’t just want hair products though. Natural kings and queens are buying organic skin products, shaving creams, deodorants, and bath oils are in demand too. We need stylists who are skilled in caring for our natural tresses and skin. Naturals love to slay so we’re showing a lot of love to makeup artists too. We’re also hiring stylists to help us brand our images because we’re representing on the runway, in films, and magazines as well as the boardrooms and corporate offices. Natural hair is in all areas of life now.
- Timeless techniques: The more things change, the more they stay the same. 2018 will bring a lot of innovative new hairstyles for naturals but the techniques we use to achieve them will not change. My grandmother taught me to take care of my hair at an early age and I didn’t realize how valuable her secrets were (section hair to style it, de-tangle from ends to roots, conditioner and moisturize often) until I went natural. I bought a book to teach me how to do my hair and it just reiterated my grandma’s advice. She learned to do her hair from her own from her grandmother who was a slave. The techniques they used back then are the same ones we use now and will carry us into the future. Therefore, my Sistah Queens and Brotha Kings, keep rocking those two-strand twists, flat twists, locs, braids, coils, twist outs, braid outs, bantu knots, bantu knot outs, tuck-roll-and-pin, foam curlers, rods & straw sets, and even weave/wigs if that’s your thang. We make it look good so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
What do you think 2018 will bring the natural hair community? Leave a comment below. Don’t forget to subscribe and share, share, share.