Hair is big business in Africa, and global brands are definitely starting to take notice.
Despite limited financial resources, Reuters reports that Africans are spending an estimated $7 billion on their hair.
According to Euromonitor International, people in South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon alone spend about $1.1 billion on hair care products. That includes shampoo, lotions and relaxers. The amount of money brought in by fake hair far outpaces that number, though. Reportedly, the dry hair (aka weaves, wigs and extensions) industry is estimated to be around $6 billion a year.
The African hair industry has become so big that Unilever now has salon in Johannesburg boasting its full line of Motions products. Then there’s L’Oreal, which is looking to do more research into African hair and skin as it expands its Dark And Lovely line of relaxers and other products. L’Oreal also has factories South Africa and Kenya, the turn out about half of the products it ships all over Africa.
Much of this growth has gone in just the last 10 years according to L’Oreal South Africa Managing Director Bertrand de Laleu. “African women are probably the most daring when it comes to hair styles,” Bertrand told Reuters. He implied that the adventurous is a result of how much more accessible different options are. “Suddenly you can play with new tools that didn’t exist or were unaffordable.”
Kabir Mohamed, managing director of South Africa’s Buhle Braids pointed out that just in South Africa, there are over 100 different brands of hair, bumping the market in the one country to $600 million!
The majority of the hair sold in Africa comes from Asia and is made of cheaper, synthetic fibers. Natural hair is offered, but it costs quite a bit more money–this is not a shock to weave connoisseurs.
Shelling out big bucks to get your hair done isn’t a new thing to black women stateside. Reuters reports that as of 2013, Mintel market research found that the Black hair care industry was a $684 million market . That estimate wildly inflates to $500 billion if extensions and sales from independent suppliers are included.