What’s Up With All These Natural Hair Product Ads?

It’s no secret that the natural hair product business is booming due to the increase in women choosing their natural hair over relaxers. Even several companies that traditionally catered to relaxed and straight hair have come out with lines for natural hair. Countless ads featuring big, coily, curly and kinky hair displayed on buses, billboards and online encourage naturals to try out a company’s products in hopes that their hair will yield the same results.

However, I often find myself looking at these ads slightly confused. Why? Because the hair shown is too perfect and natural hair isn’t perfect. Our hair is beautiful and frizzy at the same time. But time and time again, we are shown images that imply that we should never have a curl out of place. Take this ad below for African Pride’s new texture manageability system for example:


It could be her hair (I know the model wore her natural hair on ANTM), but it looks an awful lot like a wig. The hair is super shiny and perfectly coiffed. There’s no frizz and not a single stray curl poking out.

And then there’s Lottabody’s new Coconut & Shea Oils line – this is an ad for their Moisturize Me Curl & Style Milk:


Is this supposed to be their example of a wash and go? To me, it looks like a flexi-rod set. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a flexi-rod set, but I find it interesting that this is their best example of curly hair.

There have also been accusations of companies using stock photo models or images taken from the internet to sell their natural hair products rather than models who have actually used the products. This gives consumers skewed expectations of their results. I recall the time Curls used my photo in a tip of the month on creating bantu knots with Cashmere Curls. Funny thing is, I never used that product. Some smaller indie companies that do not have marketing dollars also reuse stock photos and we’ve seen the same model on multiple sites. I understand not having the advertising money that big companies have, but they could reach out to customers for pictures using their products as examples.

But isn’t this all simply a common marketing strategy? It’s certainly not unheard of across the beauty industry (using false lashes in mascara commercials, photoshopping extreme shine in hair ads or using models with extensions, using celebrities as spokespeople for boxed hair dyes), but I do wish that companies would be a bit more sincere with their advertising.


Do you feel as if some natural hair ads are dishonest? Have you seen any suspect ads?


This post also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair!


7 thoughts on “What’s Up With All These Natural Hair Product Ads?

  1. D.E. says:

    Even though this type of deception seems to be common in the beauty industry, with products that advertise themselves as for natural hair, I think there is a responsibility to go for truth in advertising. If these companies are so confident that they’re products work as they claim, why can’t they just post a YT video of someone using their products? And those that claim to work on various textures should have at least 4 people of very different textures post a video. Maybe I’m naive but I don’t think that would be a budget busting enterprise…
    Now that some of the biggest companies are getting involved in the natural/coily/kinky hair biz, I wonder if the industry is trading one narrow set of standards (bone straight hair) for another (perfectly symmetrical, huge silky curls). I hope not. Last Saturday, I saw a panel discussion on the politics of Black hair on YT with Black women at Selfridges in London and there was one woman with cottony hair. One might say it was ‘untamed’ and somewhat wild but you know what? I thought it looked very becoming on her. There were no perfectly symmetrical ringlets framing her face but her whole posture and the way she carried herself with confidence–she wore her look so well. She looked beautiful and free, forget perfection, she was art in motion!
    If only we could get women with both sculptured hair as well as those with free form, no defined curl pattern as well as defined curls, in all types of lengths on those billboards, we might just be able to get a slice of the diversity in the natural hair community. And as long as these billboards had pictures of women looking confident, it would be beautiful and we all would be able to relate.

    • D.E. says:

      I made a typo y’all. I meant to type their, not they’re. Ugh. Sorry about that. Typing too fast while mult-tasking. I’m embarrassed. My apologies.

  2. RunnerMom says:

    It’s funny you should mention this because I was just thinking about it the other day. The same relaxed hair care lines are all of a sudden concerned about the care of my natural hair. Really? I don’t think so. I have only been natural for about 2.5 years now, but as far as products and how to care for my natural hair goes … it is ALL thanks to the natural pioneer sisters on Youtube. My hard-earned money will only be spent on natural hair care product lines, like Shea Moisture, Camille Rose, As I Am, Giovanni, etc., that focus on overall healthy hair goodness from root to tip. Oh, and one more thing. I like the messiness of my natural hair. What’s up with the ads and all that tame-looking hair?

  3. The Girlfriends Blog says:

    Ouuu Sistagurl, you hit the nail on the head. Every beauty store I enter its the same. It’s the commercial products big companies way of trying to take control of the natural phenom going on, and slowly push out the start-up kitchen making sista. Before I saw the companies posting, “Oh its just a fad” and now that they see it’s shaping into a way of life, they are quickly jumping on the band wagon, to get a piece of the million dollar market, boasting that they know best and the Diva’s on youtube don’t know what they’re talking about, when that couldn’t be fatherest from the truth. It’s a shame, but as long as we got sista’s like yourself continuing to do what you do, everything will be alright. Peace!

  4. KoilyK says:

    Yes! I detest these ads! I ALWAYS think it’s a wig or weave on the model! Or at the very least it’s someone with relaxed hair who has a rod set! I cannot stand it and it deters me from the product immediately!

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