Subscription Boxes for Women of Colour

Subscription Boxes for Women of Colour

Don’t you just love to know that a product is specially made for you? Maybe it’s just my inborn need to feel special but I love the idea that something is just for me - it makes me feel special and that’s why I was so thrilled to discover beauty box subscriptions specifically for women of colour! You may have heard about subscription boxes before, they seem to be steadily growing in popularity with no signs of slowing down as they offer a regular supply of new products conveniently delivered to subscribers in the comfort of their own homes. 

Just in case you have been under a rock for the past decade and don’t know what a subscription box is - it is a service where you pay a monthly fee and receive new product samples (usually about 5-7 products) in the mail every month from the service provider. The products are usually beauty related but subscription boxes for food and other products are available as well.

The unfortunate reality is that the beauty product subscription boxes that first appeared on the scene did not have many products that women of colour were able to use. Whether it was a hair product that wasn’t suited for our type of natural hair or a skin product that was clearly meant for Caucasian women, many of the items in these boxes would end being of no use to colourful women but thankfully this gap in the market did not go unnoticed and today there are several subscription boxes available that are tailored to the needs of women of colour. 
What’s In the Box?
These subscription boxes as mentioned earlier, will normally have about 5-7 products included in them. The products will change every month to introduce subscribers to new products that they may not way have considered or been aware of before. The included products are usually sample-sized versions of what you will get if you purchase them over the counter but they present you with a great way to try them out and see how well they work for you before you commit to buying them for full price. More of these subscription services seem to be offering regular sized products however, so you can watch and see if this trend continues as beauty box subscription services get even more popular. 

Some boxes like the ones from CurlBox and CurlKit  in the US, and TreasureTress in the UK, will feature only hair care products and typically contain a mix of Afro hair gifts that women of colour can use on our uniquely textured hair. Others such as MyChocoBelle and GlowBox in the UK, and Onyx and Brown Girl Box in the US will present you with a new variety of health and beauty products, including some of hair care, to sample each month. Make-up items, skincare and hair care products from some of the best brands can usually be found in these boxes, which is why they continue so popular. It’s like experiencing Christmas once every month when you receive your box filled with new goodies. 

What does it cost to have this Christmas morning feeling every month? Subscribing to one of these services can cost anywhere from £20 - £30 (or USD$15 to about $30) per month on average. Most of them will also give you the option to pay a reduced fee when you choose a biannual or yearly subscription. The combined value of the products that you will receive will normally be significantly more than your monthly subscription fee so you should always get a great deal when you subscribe, assuming that you will actually use all the products you get each month. 

Win-Win Situation
This trend of subscription boxes for women of colour is what I like to call a win-win situation as it not only benefits the previously un-catered to women of colour in our society, but black-owned businesses that make products for black women will also have more opportunities to reach their target market and grow their business as well. Subscription box services like the Essence Beauty Box intentionally include at least one product from an independent black-owned business in their monthly package to subscribers in an effort to support and encourage these entrepreneurial businesses. Both sides win, black women get products made just for them and black-owned businesses get more exposure. 

Embrace Your Inner AfroDeity

Letter to AfroDeity: Salon de coiffure Project

Letter to Team AfroDeity: 

Dear Leilu,

I have recently worked on a project I would like to share with you, I call it Nzoussi, it explores the stigma around black/African hair

About the project
The pictures I have attached are of my niece (her name is Nzoussi), my lovely niece wearing her lovely, natural and organic long hair (which she hates and resents, only God knows why).
I was lucky to have taken these photographs as this was one of the only few rare times she was not wearing a weave/extension.

The time I spend at home (Congo) with my extended family is always a mix of excitement, happiness and frustration. I fail to understand how can a lucky girl like my niece not embrace her natural hair, kinky Afro??? Instead she wants soft and smooth hair. Not even my compliments would make her change her mind. 
I couldn’t help it but to engage by asking her the infamous question “who taught you to hate yourself?” According to her girls with fake hair get more attention from men and women and look better… the worst is she truly believes that Caucasians and Indians have it better in life. It makes me sad, but again, I’m only a man, what do I know about combing and managing black hair?
I think the problem goes deeper, as I observe the Congolese society.

My Salon de coiffure project already tackled half the problem as the photos showed me that most hair salons only advertise light skinned models with fake hair and as a result girls are discouraged to do it any other way. They believe that to be seen as beautiful they need to straighten or hide their natural hair by any means.
There is also the problem of status, Indian and Brazilian hair costs a fortune so being able to afford them says something about your income bracket. Believe it or not women with natural hair are seen as lower class citizens because according to the society the only reason they don’t have fake hair is simply because they can’t afford it.

Our media is still predominantly Western content driven, from news reports, movies, series…Caucasian looks are still seen as better.  Congolese female TV anchors wear fake hair, women in government administration the same story, the higher the position the more likely they are to wear expensive weaves and Brazilian hair.
It’s hard, if not impossible, to undo a belief when you are seeing the images all around you.

I found myself asking the question, what are you to expect from a 20-something, when her first toy was a blonde doll and not a brown one?

My anger and disappointment just vanished; I remember telling her that I love her regardless, I don’t love her any less when she wears her fake hair.

Robert Nzaou-Kissolo

Robert Nzaou-Kissolo is a Congolese photographer based in South Africa.


Corkscrew Curls: Curlformers Review Part II

As mentioned in my previous posts I had trouble styling my own hair, so I asked Niki to help me with reviewing the Curlformers this time around.

Usually I would add the Curlformers after washing the hair, but Niki had just washed and blow dried her hair straight so I spray her hair with Joliette Caribbean Coconut Hair Mist.

I then put in each Curlformer. I had mentioned before that my hair was tender on applying these. The trick is the stretch out the Curlformers and then squeeze the neck. Once the hair is threaded through then wind the curl back in ringlet form.

We had great fun again using the Soft Hood and Niki agreed it was great especially for voluminous hair. The Soft Hood has this great strap that pulls the edge of the hood gently around the head.

We put her under the hood for 20 minutes, had lunch and the removed the Curlformers. Again I stretched out the Curlformer before squeezing the neck at the root of the hair and pulling gently off. Easily removed, no pain.

All in all Niki loved her new style and left with her hair bouncing.
Niki gave this 5 out of 5

Can't Wait? Buy your Curlformers from The Curlformers website

We will be seeing much more from Niki as she joins our blogging the team and will be telling us more  in the next few months.

Embrace Your Inner AfroDeity
Leilu and Niki

BTMS: Why is it so common in cosmetics?

BTMS: Why is it so common in cosmetics?

Have you ever looked at the ingredients on the back of your favourite cosmetic product and it seems to be a long list of unpronounceable ingredients that sound like they would all be right at home in a science lab somewhere? Have you ever seen acronyms that apparently mean something to the scientists, but are just a bunch of letters to you? BTMS is one of these mysterious ingredients that is commonly found in cosmetics. 

As times change and we become more conscious of our choices as consumers, we are starting to look for more natural ingredients in the products that we purchase and I wanted to do a little investigating to find out exactly what BTMS is, if it is natural and why it is so commonly used as an ingredient in cosmetics. 

What is BTMS 
BTMS is the acronym for behentrimonium methosulfate and if you try to say that out loud you will understand why it is most commonly referred to as simply BTMS. It is a conditioning emulsifier that is sourced from the oil of the natural Colza plant (sometimes called Rapeseed oil) so in case you were wondering ‘is BTMS natural?” the answer is yes, it is. If you missed some chemistry classes (or just fell asleep) and have no clue what an emulsifier is - it is basically an agent that allows oil and water to mix together since they will not mix well on their own. 

How BTMS is used 
Cosmetic products such as lotions and creams typically have 3 main ingredients, the first two being water and oil and - you guessed it - the third ingredient has to be an emulsifying agent like BTMS as it is needed to help the other two ingredients combine and stay combined in a stable state. BTMS-25 and BTMS-50 are the two variations most commonly used as an ingredient in cosmetics. BTMS-25 means that there is only 25% behentrimonium methosulfate present and BTMS-50 means that the product has 50% behentrimonium methosulfate, which is obviously a more active conditioning ingredient. 

Why is BTMS so common in cosmetics?
As BTMS also has excellent conditioning properties it provides added benefits when used in hair and skin products. In skin products like moisturising creams and lotions BTMS will normally have the effect of making the skin feel very soft and when used in hair products like conditioners and hair relaxers it is known to give hair more body and bounce. It also great for detangling as it makes wet combing very easy even with very thick ethnic hair and this is one reason why it is common to find BTMS in cosmetics that are made specially for women with natural Afro hair. BTMS is very mild and is commonly used as an ingredient in leave-in conditioners and leave-in treatments because it is so gentle. 

To sum all that up, BTMS is commonly used in cosmetics because it is an effective emulsifying agent, an excellent conditioner, and it is all natural. These properties make BTMS suitable as an ingredient in not only hair and skin cosmetics but also in deodorants, antiperspirants and cosmetic products that use silicone emulsions as well. It is considered to be particularly effective when used on Afro hair because it does such a good job of lubricating and conditioning hair and this is why is used in so many ethnic hair care products. The next time you are shopping for a new skin lotion and you happen to see BTMS listed as one of the ingredients, you can smile a little secret smile to yourself as you are now a part of the small group of people who actually know what BTMS means and why it is commonly used in cosmetics.

Embrace Your Inner AfroDeity
Zunammie K.

April giveaway with Curlformers

Our April Giveaway is in association with Curlformers 

Its our April giveaway! We are super excited to have up teamed up with Curlformers this month to give you something truly special to put a 'Spring' in your Curl

If Curlformers are one of those products you've heard about but haven't tried, here's your chance to try them out. We are giving away one set of Curlformers to one winner this month. All you have to do is enter your email address into the blue bar and click the orange button. See below.

Curlformers Corkscrew Set is everything you need to easily create glossy, smooth and healthy curls every time. Perfect for all ages and all hair types, wigs and weaves. Best of all, Curlformers will never cause heat damage. Packed in a luxury, dark silver, satin vanity bag, take Curlformers anywhere to create salon quality curls-on-the-go.

Just enter your email address in the orange bar below, click the turquoise button, and we'll enter you into our April giveaway. This is a giveaway not to be missed, enter today.

Alternatively buy Curlformers on the Curlformers site.

Also check out Niki and Leilu's reviews of the corkscrew sets

Embrace Your Inner AfroDeity