Published on January 22nd, 2012 | by thevyne17
The International Hair Struggle
Throughout my many travels to Europe over the past 7 years, I’ve learned that many black women struggle with finding good hair products or a great hair stylist they can trust. Having lived in Barcelona, Spain, I personally struggled with maintaining the healthy beauty regimen I adopted in The States. I realized how hard it was to find quality beauty products, especially because there wasn’t a beauty supply store in every corner. So I put on my entrepreneurial hat and created Isabis Beauty, a social commerce website where women worldwide could “Share Beauty. Shop Beauty.” I wanted to create an online hub where women of color all around the world could share beauty advice and shop for these products.
I vividly recall one of my experiences soon after landing in sunny Barcelona. So eager to explore the city, I dropped my bags as soon I arrived in my small studio apartment and hit the streets. First stop: the beach. I played in the sand and swam with no regard for my fresh perm! Second stop: dinner date on Las Ramblas, the most famous street in Barcelona. When I got back home from the beach, it suddenly dawned on me that my hair was looking a hot mess (to say the least)! I needed my hair done now and fast but, like many expatriates, there just wasn’t enough room in my luggage to pack my entire beauty regimen. I came with what I thought were essentials: my “never-fails-me” hairbrush, “morning fabulous” satin scarf, and a small bottle of Kemy hair oil. So my plans changed. Revised second stop: beauty supply store. After Googling for a while, I found a shop in one of the ethnic areas in the city. While perusing the isles, I found repeats of the same 3 products: Dark and Lovely, Dr. Miracle’s, and Indian hair in bulk. Pressed for time, I went to a European beauty store and bought overpriced hair supplies. My hair looked fine in the end but there was a bigger issue: I would have to get creative if I wanted my hair to look silky in Barcelona.
I later learned that many black women with relaxed or natural hair find that it’s more difficult to maintain it in Europe because few quality black hair salons exist, good products are hard to find, and the winters are harsh. This may not be the case in big cities, but everyone who moves to Europe doesn’t settle in London or Paris. Even in these big cities many good products for natural and relaxed hair are hard to come by, let alone searching for them in the boondocks! There’s also an overall lack of hair education. Information is out there but a lot of factors contribute to why some women lack the knowledge, including finances, bad habits, and lack of local resources. When I lived in Barcelona, not only did I wish for better, newer ethnic hair products, but also for a community of women online or in the city to whom I could exchange beauty advice. It’s even more evident in Paris where hair salons, beauty supply stores and even outdoor food markets in Chateaux Rouge (the “Little Africa” of Paris) share a common mission: selling hair extensions. Don’t get me wrong; I love weaves but getting a sew-in and maintaining it are two different things. There are a few good ethnic hair salons in Europe, like Maria Dolores Institut de Paris and Hairy Taj Salon, whose stylists focus on putting healthy hair above all. These are golden treasures to find however.
The culmination of these experiences formed my vision behind Isabis Beauty. No matter where you live, you could log on to www.isabisbeauty.com to ask for beauty advice by uploading a video and another woman eager to help a sistah out would create a video on how she found a solution to the same problem. And the cycle of giving and sharing would continue. So how does my Barcelona hair story end? I found a great, hole-in-the-wall Dominican salon 15minutes from my apartment and stuck to my hair stylist like glue!
Share Beauty. Shop Beauty.