young woman with afro

Are you going broke being natural?

“You can either pay your electricity bill or afford to have natural hair.” These are words quietly uttered by Black women at most natural hair events I’ve attended lately. Going natural is not for the weak, but it’s not for the financially timid, either. Making the switch from silky strands to glorious kinks—comparable to swapping that hearty burger for an organic smoothie—costs a pretty penny for a female demographic who just so happens to spend the most.

Let’s take a look at the products. Curly girl favorite Miss Jessie’s Buttercream, a thick, luscious moisturizer, retails for $58.00 for a 16oz jar. Why? Because it works. The natural hair community has longtime praised the mixture for its superb moisturizing abilities, and the one thing that unites all textured beauties is the endless pursuit of hydrated, frizz-less hair. Kinky Curly Curling Custard, a coveted gel that gives definition to the most unruly of curls, will cost you $30 for its largest size (16oz). The fairly simple formula contains a base of aloe vera—and you'll struggle to mimic the styling aid. According to recent consumer reports, Black women with natural hair spend the most on conditioners and styling aids. Why? Because these happen to be two products that can make or break your ‘do. Curl expert and celebrity stylist Anthony Dickey's Hair Rules Quench Ultra Rich Conditioner costs a whopping $42 for its widely known detangling powers, and according to the Hair Rules addicts I know, it's quite the magical potion.

There’s also the matter of ingredients. After ridding their follicles of relaxers, a substantial quantity of Black women pay closer attention to everything they put in and on their bodies. Sulfates, alcohol, parabens and known cancer-causing agents are out. Along with the concern over synthetic ingredients, there is also a desire for products containing the trendy must-haves like olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter and argan oil—along with exotic botanical extracts and strengthening essential oils. These rare combinations can be found in products like Jane Carter Scalp Nourishing Serum, which costs $14 for a 1oz dropper.

On the styling end, natural hair bloggers are cleaning up in brand endorsements and appearances. Natural hair aficionados like Natural Chica and Afrobella are in high demand because there's a lack of trained hairstylist working with textured hair. Most cosmetology programs don’t have a natural hair curriculum, so aside from seminars and local events with natural gurus, finding hair care professionals that can style kinks, curls and waves is like striking gold. And the professionals that have gone the extra mile to understand this new clientele are winning. Curly cuts like the almighty C-cut or Deva Cut (personalized multi-textured haircuts) will run you upwards of $100. Fingerstyling, the process of vigorously running products through a wet head of curls, averages $70, and two-strand twisting will cost you about $90. Add color and additional services like a date-night updo and your ticket could be as high as $300.

Why spend this much on hair, you ask? Simply put, hair matters and many of the aforementioned brands are the forefathers of a burgeoning movement. Yes, you're paying for a high quality product, but you’re also shelling out dollars for a reputable and revered name in natural hair. It makes perfect sense that a number of older hair care brands—most notably known for their straight-hair offerings—are now attempting to get their piece of the pie with cheaper lines. Beautiful Textures, from the creators of Elasta QP and African Pride, offers an arsenal of natural goods all under $7. Mizani True Textures is a great line that won’t completely break the bank, with products ranging from $9 to $20.

As natural hair products gradually move from the bottom shelves of Target aisles into their own space in the health and beauty section, the increase of natural hair sisters combined with new, competitively-priced lines will undoubtedly lower product costs. But for the glorious look of healthy curls, natural women won’t hesitate to pay more for better products, and the options will only continue to multiply. In the meantime, we can only wonder how much some of you curl fanatics spend on your potions that keep your ‘fros funky and fabulous.

How much do you spend on natural hair care?