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How Shea Moisture Products Have Made an Impact on the Mainstream Beauty Industry

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at WVU chapter.

Beauty products designed for people of color are few and far between and typically expensive when they are found. This is mostly due to the fact that they are sold by popular mainstream brands such as Suave or Pantene who normally produce products designed for Caucasian hair. When these brands market products designed for African American hair, they are able to raise prices because there are not many on the market, not because they cost more to produce. It is also quite uncommon for mainstream beauty brands to produce hair products specifically for African American men. The most frustrating part about the lack of accessibility and the price difference is that these products are not even necessarily effective for colored hair.

Shea Moisture is a line of hair and skin products designed for African American men and women. The brand originated as the sale of shea nuts at a market in Bonthe, Sierra Leone in 1912. Today, the products have advanced to African Black soap and homemade hair and skin products made by Sofi Tucker, a 19-year-old widowed mother of four. The founders of the brand are the grandchildren of Tucker who chose to carry on her legacy by further advancing these products for men and women of color. Shea Moisture guarantees that its products are made with fair trade shea butter, are cruelty-free and contain no parabens, mineral oils, formaldehyde, petroleum or phthalates. Formaldehydes and petroleum have been known to be linked to hair loss and stunted hair growth due to clogging of the follicle. According to the FDA, it is not clear the effect of phthalates on humans, but when tested on animals, phthalates may have caused malformations and or permanent damage to the male reproductive system.

Shea Moisture has changed the game for men and women of color for so many reasons. It is common to co-wash hair, use a leave-in conditioner or use hair masques often so that curls are not stripped of their natural oils and texture. Shea Moisture provides products specifically designed for all of these uses. The brand also produces its products for each specific curl type/pattern and this is what sets them apart from other mainstream brands. Curl pattern specific products allow for an even more effective hair product. Shea Moisture also produces a children’s line with even milder ingredients safe for children. This part of the brand, in particular, has made such an impact for Caucasian parents of African American children. Growing up in a comparable household, having accessibility to products designed for my hair would have been so helpful to my mom. 

Although Shea Moisture is essentially designed for men and women of color, that does not mean that is exclusive to that demographic. Their hair care products are specifically designed for certain curl patterns, but there are plenty of other races who could find use out of these products, especially if you have curly hair. Shea Moisture also sports a wide array of skincare products including soaps, moisturizers and toners, lip balms, masks and cleansers. The brand also makes products designed exclusively for specific skin concerns such as dry or red skin. The aspect of diversity is what differentiates Shea Moisture from other beauty products. 

Edited by Madison Greer

Madisen is a sophomore honors student at West Virginia University. She is pursuing a degree in Medical Laboratory Science with a minor in Communication Studies. Upon completing her degree, Madisen hopes to be accepted to physician's assistant school to continue her education. Madisen strives to be diverse in everything she does by delving into writing, science, photography, and painting. Being so diverse has allowed her to find the beauty in many aspects of life!
Rachel is a graduate student at WVU majoring in journalism with minors in Appalachian studies, history and political science. In addition to writing for Her Campus, she is also a publicity intern for Arts and Entertainment and a news intern for Univerisity Relations. She is from Princeton, West Virginia and loves her state and its beautiful mountains. She is passionate about many things including dogs, musicals and the Mountaineers.