Shea Moisture has long been a go-to brand of haircare and skincare products for people who rattle off terms like twist-outs, 4C curls, co-wash, and protective styles with no problem. However, the following “Controversial Shea Moisture Product Commercial” has set off some folks who have viewed the brand as the bastion for black haircare when other products were still loading down their ingredients list with mineral oils and parabens.
According to Fast Company, the success of Shea Moisture came by intentional design via their #BreakTheWalls commercial, which featured a black woman walking through a store for 60 seconds, looking for products that would suit her needs. Asking if the haircare products found segregated in the “ethnic” section of the store meant that as a woman of color she was not beautiful, the commercial’s message went viral, along with the video.
After amassing 1 million views in 24 hours and millions more in the 21 days to follow, Shea Moisture won big praise and attention. Richelieu Dennis, the brains behind the commercial, is the founder and CEO of Sundial Brands.
Sundial Brands houses Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage, and other product lines. The runaway success brought Bain Capital, which bought a minority amount of equity, $200 million in 2015. Bain took a chance that Shea Moisture would appeal to a broader spectrum of races, but commercials like the above show some folks are feeling betrayed by Shea Moisture’s mass appeal.
Whereas commercials like “SheaMoisture: What’s Normal?” from the Shea Moisture YouTube channel have gained nearly 500,000 views in seven months, the controversial ad is not readily findable on the firm’s YouTube Channel.
Shea Moisture is black owned…
— *Dora Milaje* (@JinJa_Shole) April 24, 2017
What is readily findable are articles like “The Whitewashing of Natural Hair Care Lines” from Racked. The subtitle of the article speaks to what some of the Shea Moisture backlash is all about — beyond any controversial commercial that appeals to all races.
“Carol’s Daughter and Shea Moisture are ready to appeal to a wider audience — but who loses out?”
With Dennis transforming from a man who sold shampoos loaded with shea butter on the streets of Harlem in New York City 25 years ago since leaving his native Liberia to a CEO who helms a company that helps everything from dry skin to natural curls, there are fans who believe that black-owned brands should remain black-owned and black-focused. That’s what some of the Shea Moisture controversy is about, with certain fans not viewing the expansion of Shea Moisture as a good thing, but instead as a sort of sell-out moment betraying the folks who made the brand successful in the first place.
When I read this, last year, I knew Shea Moisture was headed down a path I wouldn't be following. https://t.co/pjz2DS0qiT
— zanele (@BigInduna) April 24, 2017
Others are publishing tweets claiming that it’s not just about Shea Moisture’s new commercial but the deeper message, and some people are bragging that they stopped buying Shea Moisture’s line long ago. A sampling of those responses can be seen below.
“Literally nothing was wrong with the Shea Moisture commercial. It’s a brand for all people so they include all people.”
“I’m a Carol’s Daughter girl myself. Shea Moisture did nothing for my hair.”
“What’s Shea Moisture doing??”
“I been searching for alternatives to Shea Moisture for a while now and now I’m even more determined to run!”
“I don’t use Shea Moisture hair products, but their Rose Oil mud mask is so good to my face.”
“I don’t know the issue w/ Shea Moisture, but I do know that this bottle of muhfuggin Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampo ain’t going nowhere…”
“That’s cold. Shea Moisture alienated their core loyal customer base.”
“*Throws all Shea Moisture products in the bin*”
“Especially for shea moisture..I don’t know any white people that use that brand it’s predominantly black women with type 4 hair.”
[Featured Image by Tomasz Kobiela/Shutterstock]