Understanding Why the Appropriation of Hair Ingredients is Culturally Wrong
Appreciation > appropriation.
It seems like every other day, there’s a new trending hair or skincare ingredient that promises to upgrade your beauty routine instantly. Meanwhile, the idea of appropriating hair ingredients is easily glossed over. The truth about the origin of many of these trending ingredients is that they are often sourced from minority cultures and date back to well before they appeared on your favorite beauty blog. While they have been repackaged and marketed as “new” and “buzz-worthy,” they have actually been around for quite a long time.
The Appropriation of Hair Ingredients
The appropriation of hair ingredients is highly problematic, and today we are deep diving into the harm inherent to this practice and what it can ultimately lead to.
What is ingredient appropriation?
Hair ingredient appropriation is similar to any other form of cultural appropriation: every culture has its own ingredients, practices, and traditions. When beauty brands hijack these ingredients and repackage them as a new discovery, they participate in the form of erasure that ignores the origin of these ingredients and the cultures that have been using them for generations.
By crediting these repackaged and often white-washed versions of these ingredients, consumers participate in that appropriation and send the message that these ingredients are only valuable once they have been westernized. They benefit from the rush of a small dose of exoticism while supporting the appropriation of hair ingredients without thought.
What can the appropriation of hair ingredients lead to?
This form of whitewashing and erasure impacts more than just the beauty industry; that impact alone is nothing to laugh at. Every culture has its own beauty practices, which are often centered around the geographical locations of their ancestral lands and what was available at the time.
Many “buzz-worthy” ingredients that brands have “discovered” in recent years have a strong history. Ignoring that history dismisses entire peoples and their heritage. This nonchalance around respecting cultural practices and heritage is harmful and unlikely to remain solely within the beauty industry.
How can we appreciate instead of appropriate?
Appreciating instead of appropriating is a tricky line to walk, but we can start by listening, preserving, and giving credit where it’s due. Doing our due diligence and researching the origin of beauty ingredients can help us trace the ingredients back to their sources and shop from brands that honor the origins of these formulas.
As consumers, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we support brands that respect the origin of ingredients and provide healthy working environments for the people producing the products. Keep an eye out for brands that provide the backstory for where and how they source their ingredients and make educated choices about where your beauty products are coming from and how they are produced.