The next frontier of inclusive beauty is textured hair styling

The beauty industry has made strides to be more inclusive of textured hair in marketing, advertising and brand assortment, including with its embrace of the 15 Percent Pledge starting in 2020. Still, until recently, a salon environment for all hair types was not part of the picture.

Recent salon industry developments point in the right direction. That includes the passing of inclusive cosmetology rules and regulations, and the establishment of more diverse and educational programs, In June 2021, Louisiana became the first state to include textured hair-care styling among its cosmetology board’s graduation requirements. And in April 2022, Tresemmé announced that it crafted a textured hairstyling certification program to lend both new and experienced stylists the opportunity to receive training for textured hair.

Tresemmé developed the textured hair certification program following its 2020 survey on hair bias and the 2020 launch of its Future Stylist scholarship program supporting BIPOC stylists and cosmetologists. That survey polled 1,000 Black women and 500 professional hairstylists in the U.S. The data revealed a training gap for stylists in regard to textured hair, which tends to create a salon atmosphere that makes Black women and customers with textured hair feel uncomfortable and underserved. As a result, Tresemmé partnered with styling school SimpleeBeautiful’s Curly Textured Academy to train more than 1,000 stylists in textured hair care by the end of 2022.

“That survey was the beginning. We wanted to understand what more we could do as a brand and where we can make an even more meaningful impact on a larger scale,” said Jessica Grigoriou, brand director for Tresemmé.

Hairstylists from across the country will be able to register for three complimentary courses taught by Diane Da Costa, CEO of SimpleeBeautiful, alongside celebrity hairstylists Lacy Redway and Nai’vasha. The program combines online and in-person training, with three units on fundamentals of textured hair, cutting textured hair and styling textured hair. The cutting and styling units are full-day in-person sessions. It takes a total of about 15 hours over the course of three classes to complete the certification program. Tresemmé encourages sign-ups across its owned social media, with a landing page on its website and promotions from partners like Redway and Nai’vasha to their social followings. The program will kick off in June.

“We hope there is a world where this [training] becomes required curriculum within state licensing requirements,” Grigoriou said. “Tresemmé is bringing scale and expertise to this space; we formed a collaboration that we hope will greatly impact the industry.”

Moving forward, any stylist Tresemmé works with to perform services will need to have this certification. For example, TreSemmé is often present during New York Fashion Week, with approximately 60 stylists on-site for multiple shows. All 60 stylists will need to have the Tresemmé certification.

The lack of textured styling at salons across the country is no minor issue. Nielsen reports that Black women are traditionally known to visit salons and use professional styling products to maintain their hair. In its 2021 multicultural beauty report, Neilson found that 41% of African-American women indicated that the Covid-19 temporary salon closures prompted changes to their hair styling and maintenance regimens. As Tresemmé found in its hair bias report, it also has costly effects. According to the report, 63% of white stylists felt it is fair to charge extra to style textured, coily or kinky hair, compared to only 46% of Black stylists. And people with textured hair, particularly Black women, have been denied service at high-end salons because their kinky and coily hair was perceived as too difficult to style.

Edwin Neill, CEO of Aveda Arts & Sciences Institutes and chairman of the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology, said in a statement to Glossy that styling school Aveda Arts began to “revamp” its education around textured hair a few years ago and came to understand that competency was not tested at the state level for licensure. At that time, the school began to play an integral role in pushing for textured hair to be on the test. NPR reported that Aveda Arts looks to change testing requirements in over 20 states, including Texas.

“With texture now on the test [in Louisiana], students at all beauty schools in Louisiana will learn how to serve all clients, regardless of their hair type,” said Neill. “In the long term, this will make all salons a much more inclusive environment.”

Da Costa, CEO of SimpleeBeautiful and Tresemmé’s certification partner, has her own petition on Change.org to make textured hairstyling part of New York State’s cosmetology licensing requirements. In the petition, she points to the popularity of textured hairstyles today due to the natural hair movement of the early 2000s and the legitimacy textured hair has since garnered from the beauty industry, including L’Oréal, Matrix, and Redkin, which all have online textured hair education.

“Since the early 2000s, we’ve seen more curly styles and curl-specific salons arrive, and an increasing presence of textured styles all over beauty editorials, commercials, television shows, runways, and textbooks,” she wrote, supporting the petition. “What was once thought of as just a trend is now regarded as a true lifestyle. [Yet,] most beauty programs in New York State and across the United States have failed to require texture education on the state board level.”

As a mass-only brand sold through big-box retailers, grocery and drugstores, Tresemmé’s decision to wade into the salon environment may seem like an unusual approach. But it’s not the only mass brand trying to establish a more inclusive environment for people with textured hair. In 2019, Dove co-founded the CROWN Coalition in partnership with the National Urban League, Color Of Change and Western Center on Law & Poverty to advance The CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act. It calls for a ban on race-based hair discrimination at work, federal programs and public accommodations. Though CROWN does not overlap with salon training for textured hair, it is indicative of the grassroots level changes happening to support textured and natural hairstyles. In this case, it also established further legitimacy and protections for such styles because it makes discrimination illegal.

In March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act along party lines with a vote of 235-189 in favor. The bill will head to the Senate for a vote and has garnered vocal support from President Biden.

Dove co-founded The CROWN Coalition, which sponsored the first CROWN Act bill that passed in California in July 2019. Dove has supported CROWN legislation by commissioning research called the “Dove CROWN Research Study” in 2019 to help people better understand the magnitude of this issue. Dove also recently unveiled the Dove 2021 CROWN Research Study for girls and a campaign called “As Early As Five” that dives into the pervasiveness of hair discrimination in schools.

“The CROWN Act underscores the critical importance of moving policy and culture toward a more inclusive America,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, COO and evp of beauty and personal care at Unilever North America. “Narrow beauty standards in America continue to perpetuate unfair scrutiny, injustice, and discrimination in workplaces and schools against Black women and girls for wearing hairstyles inherent to their identity. We know that The CROWN Act alone is not enough to end racial injustice, so together with our CROWN Coalition partners, we will be expanding our current work to help address racial discrimination through legislative advocacy and societal change.”

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