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The cost of being beautiful

Looking good versus retaining your cultural identity.

December 5, 2015 10:20 am

Sabine Mondestin

The majority of women out there feel that being beautiful is inherently important, with some women spending millions to look like the next top model, whom they have seen in a beauty magazine. Despite the tough economic climate we find ourselves in, the beauty industry is thriving with sales in many beauty products rising.

Euromonitors International beauty and personal care research analyst, Nicole Tyrimou told CNBC Africa that certain cosmetic items are outperforming others, such as nail polish. She explains why: “What we’ve seen at Euromonitor International is that at this time, with the recession, it hasn’t been lipstick sales that have been doing well, it’s more nail polish, and this is due to a number of different factors… we’re seeing consumers are more concerned about their status and individuality, the rise of nail art has helped consumers use nail polish to express their personality through this. Women just tend to feel bad when they aren’t looking good.”

The bottom line

Another form of individual expression, especially in the African market is hair. African women spend big bucks on weaves and relaxers. The Black haircare industry is grossly underestimated, and knowingly so. Market research firm Mintel estimated the size of the 2012 market at $684 million, with a projection of $761 million by 2017. There are many different weaves out in the market and the price range varies from the lowest being about R100 to the most expensive weave depending on length and grade going up to R10 000.

This coupled with the new trend of having well-manicured nails with acrylic tips or shellac nail polish, the average spend for nails being from R100 up to R500, the cost of beauty is most definitely on the rise.

There is however, a new revolution that is causing a bit of a dip in the weaving and chemical hair relaxing industry, the natural hair revolution. Many African woman are going back to their natural hair and ditching their weaves! There has been a lot of talk with women saying that they are tired of fake hair and fake nails. Thuli, an aspiring actress, got rid of her weaves as she said it was making her look less authentic and that women with fake hair and nails were losing their identity and culture. There are even further reports of black women being accused of wanting to “look white” and were failing to embrace their natural hair.

Samantha, a hair salon owner says that she doesn’t fully agree with this statement as she says that it is actually a personal choice that a lady makes. She further states that natural hair or wearing a weave is all about choice. “Why do black women have to legitimise everything we do to our hair? We have to explain why we wear our hair natural. We have to explain why we wear our hair permed. We have to explain why we dye our hair or wear weave, whereas our white counterparts can do these things without an assumption that they are self-hating. Why do black women do these things to our hair? A few of us wear wigs and perms because of the European standard of beauty. Some of us just like the way they look.” According to Samantha, wearing fake hair or nails doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of cultural identity.

Black women are a largely diverse group of people, and it’s hard to answer a question like this without glossing over many people’s varied experiences. What are your thoughts on this? Share them with @MakambaOnline.

Author: Staff writer

The cost of being beautiful Reviewed by on . The majority of women out there feel that being beautiful is inherently important, with some women spending millions to look like the next top model, whom they The majority of women out there feel that being beautiful is inherently important, with some women spending millions to look like the next top model, whom they Rating: 0
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