Thursday, 14 June 2012

Black Hair Adverts In Britain

  >>Click Here To Watch the Ad<< (source)

A couple of days ago I saw a Tweet by @TheNaprika about a television advert for hair relaxer. Now if you're reading this in the USA, this is probably nothing new to you, but being from the UK where you hardly ever see a Black woman in a televised hair commercial, this was big news to me. At the moment I don’t really watch a lot of TV so I had to watch it on YouTube, click the link under the above photo to view the ad.


I initially thought the ad had aired on terrestrial TV but it turned out to be on Channel E!, which is an American channel but we can get it over here on SKY. It did get me thinking about the rarity of adverts for Black hair on British TV and off the top of my head I cant think of any. The below Dove Ad is the closet I can think of.

Nowadays we can occasionally spot posters for Black Hair care products at the bus stop or on the tube (in London at least), and even if the model's hair is relaxed I still feel a mini "pang" of excitement at seeing Black women represented where they previously weren't.

It's no longer the case that we call the whole family to the TV when a Black person comes on (although in some cases it still happens - anyone else spot the Black and the Mixed Race Horse Guards during the Queen's Jubilee?) but those days aren't as far behind us as the music channels may have us think. I imagine that if I do ever catch a glimpse of a Black hair Ad on TV it'll probably be for a weave or relaxer, before it'll be for natural hair. I'm happy to be proved wrong about this, and I wont complain either way.

I'll reserve my deeper thoughts on the power of advertising for another Blog post and simply say that I think never seeing any adverts to promote healthy, beautiful Afro hair, definitely has a subconscious impact on how you form your own ideas of beauty as a child.
If there have ever been any ads for Black hair on British TV please let me know, but until then I leave you yet again, with my favourite quote and the simple task of imagining what the Afro hair version of this ad might look like:
"What does the Black spectator identify with when his(/her) mirror image is absent, or present only as other?"
(K. Mercer, 1996)
Who would you choose for a BRITISH natural hair ad?


  1. In an advert for UK naturals I would put you -
    Crystal Afro, Angela Griffin and Keisha Jo of British Curlies. All the extras in the Ad would be all the UK naturals who want to come an represent their texure everyone wearing bright colours with their hair naturally curly kinky or coily..

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  3. That organics ad is so wrong on so many different levels - I mean they can advertise relaxers but don't make people think that you are 'better' when your hair is relaxed as opposed to not!
    Also quoted from ad: "relaxed hair is more manageable, smoother, fuller, it's shiny etc" ...compared to natural hair? SMH.
    Yes, the way you wear your hair is a personal choice but let's not mislead people...PLEASE!

  4. I love how you wrote about calling your fam to the TV when a black person pops up, lol. In Sweden there have been plenty of black (usually pretty light skinned) and mixed models in all kinds of adds over the last years, but I can't think of any commercial for hair products. And quite frankly people of African descent are still a pretty small minority group here, so to think that there would be a commercial just marketed at us on TV would be a shocker. I guess since "the natural movement" is growing in the US and UK overtime the commercials will change as well, or at least I hope, since children grow up and believe a lot of what they see on TV.
    Great post!

  5. Hmm, for a British natural hair ad I would have all UK naturals that are willing to be on TV, all ages, all textures, but I wonder what brand they would be advertising..

  6. Having attended Dr Hair Live recently which was presented by Organic Root Stimulator, the message they seem to want to promote is healthy hair however you choose to wear it. The brand also has products for natural hair, which I use myself and have had good results. However, why they have chosen to promote products with a model who has chemically processed hair, I can only guess, perhaps commercial acceptability by the masses, who knows?
    For natural hair ad I'd love Angela Griffin and Shingai Shongiwa.

  7. Great post Crystal! As someone who has worked in the British beauty industry, the lack of women of colour - natural or otherwise, in mainstream advertising was one of my main frustrations, and one reason why I started my blog. Please see below for a link to a post I wrote about afro hair in mainstream advertising:

    Do let me know what you think! I also created a Pinboard ( to follow up this post would be great to add some UK natural hair models to I am looking forward to the day that this will be the case... I am sure that it is not too far away!

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  9. Loved this post.

    Whilst sitting in the dentist office I picked up an InStyle magazine and in this particular issue there was an advert featuring a black girl on every other page. I was like wow, when did this happen. So I checked to see if this was a regular thing in the previous 4 magazines. No surprises there...couldn't find even one black girl. I think sometimes editors remember we exist and have an issue or two where they make an effort to put in black makeup adverts and the odd asian model.
    However saying that the last Boots Store Health and Beauty magazine is seriously populated with black models with natural hair and they look amazing!
    Although there aren't any beauty or hair adverts on TV at the moment a lot of the black women in adverts do sport natural hair. I love the two black girls in the Rubicon Mango advert!
    I totally agree about running to the TV when a black person is on, it might not be as rare as in the 70s but I am sorry I still get excited! LOL!

    As to your comment about how this affects young people not seing their image on TV, I dont think this only affects black women, I mean how many english girls do you see that look like Cheryl Cole! I have a serious problem generally with the beauty industry on this.



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