For a long time society has forced women of color to emulate Western hair while damaging theirs in the process. Flipping the switch on chemical straightening treatments, a new generation of brands has emerged to help restore the health of natural curls and coils. Curly hair needs moisture, something that sulfate-heavy shampoos end up stripping away. Newcomers include Pattern Beauty, Dizziak, and Bouclème, owned by naturally curly-haired founders and offering products that use gentle ingredients to hydrate and treat.
Joining this movement are haircare brands such as Chāmpo (pronounced shar-pour, meaning “to press and knead the muscles” in Hindi) that combine new technology with botanical ingredients to promote the Ayurvedic principles of mind and balance. This aligns with the trend for “co-washing,” a process that swaps shampoo for a conditioner with mild cleansing agents to clean and condition hair without depleting its natural oils. A great option for dry hair, it prevents the damage that can be caused by regular sulfate-laden shampoos.
As with skin care, a relatively new entry to the world of Western haircare is the conditioning oil. While some may have a morbid fear of this all-natural substance, it’s a much-loved secret weapon of many beauty ritualists. Artist and jeweler Arpana Rayamajhi learned about the advantages from her mother while growing up in Nepal, and continues the tradition: “Nepalese women are really big into oiling. On my hair I use everything from olive oil to mustard oil, almond oil and amla oil, which comes from the Indian gooseberry.”
Japanese massage therapist Ryoko Hori also champions the power of oils. For her, the magic ingredient is tsubaki oil, which comes from the seeds of the camellia flower. It’s the oil that is used to give Sumo wrestlers’ hair its incredible strength and shine. Try it as a calming leave-in treatment, working in a generous amount after towel-drying.
Or go the everyday low-maintenance route: The Brazilian footwear designer Mari Giudicelli does very little to her naturally wavy hair, but after a shower she applies the traces of Costa Brazil body oil that are left on her palms to the ends of her air-dried hair.
It doesn’t stop there. You can also consider the wonders of oil as an eyebrow- and lash-boosting treatment. Wellness coach Isa-Welly Locoh-Donou extols the benefits of humble castor oil: “I put it on my lashes and brows before bed. I’ve done that for several months, but the lashes get silkier. I buy castor oil and put it in an empty mascara tube and add vitamin E.”