How Shae Moisture fronted on us, and my messy list of alternative brands for your melanated selves

By Kejhonti Neloms

I’m not too bothered by shea moisture being owned partially by Bain capital. I feel that all of the things I enjoy are usually anti-me&you, so I’m not unfamiliar with that kind of cognitive dissonance. I’m still shook about Shea Moisture being #AllLivesMatter, though, and I can’t really place why.

I should have predicted it. Not because I’m an economist or a psychic or something wild like that, but because I was happy–for once–that a product that was supposed to be friends with my hair just moved into the Walgreens right up the street from my house. But it’s a damn shame that my hope in Shae Moisture was all I needed to tell me that this product-that-made-it would eventually be used against me. Any time black people get something good, capitalism takes a shot at it. Sometimes, the company remains with the people. But most times, the company betrays us.



I’ve long given up hope in most companies purporting to be FUBU, but I was thoroughly shocked when I saw the above advertisement. Flabbergasted. Shook. Appalled. I’ve thought long and hard about why I was caught off guard. After a couple of days in deep thought with my ratchet ass friends, I still don’t have the answer, but I do have a few ideas. Maybe I was shook because I just spent like 30 dollars of my hard earned coin on their products at the recommendation of natural beauty guru Ashanti Waybriel. Maybe I was surprised because I loved the smell of Shea Moisture products so damn much. Maybe I was surprised because Shea Moisture, like Shaun King, was my first foray into wokeness™.

Every negro has like 7 different hymns of adventure, loss and triumph concerning their hair. My sister Ashanti touched my hair once, and then just looked at me like, “Oouu no baby what is you doin???”  My hair felt like Jesse Williams: Trifilin.

Long story longer, after much push and pull, I found myself with Ashanti in the beauty aisle of Walgreens. She recommended Shea Moisture for “extremely ashy hair.” It was just my luck that it was buy one get one 50% off. So, being bad and boujee on a budget, I got everything (read: 4 items). The curl enhancer smoothie? Throw it in the bag. The curl activating conditioner? Throw it in the bag. The deep conditioning shampoo? I’ll take 2!

I should have known there was some funny business because, after shampooing, I would put the conditioner in my hair, and I would be feeling like I just got a fresh conk. But then the VERY NEXT day, my hair would be even DRYER than when I started. So I would simply grab more conditioner, and repeat the cycle almost daily.
It wasn’t until my FB timeline informed me that my experience with this product was not unique that I knew I had been betrayed. In fact, hundreds of black women have expressed that, after being loyal customers to the brand for years and years, the product is no longer working for their hair texture.   

Pause.

A product, built for dark skins with thick, coarse-grain 4c hair, founded in 1912 by a West African woman, changed their formula to be all-inclusive. Where have we seen this before? #AllBeautyMatters, huh? Inclusivity is a not-so-code word for white accessability. It’s amazing to think that, what with all of the beauty products specifically designed for the minority that is white people, Shea Moisture would have the audacity to alienate the nappy headed niggas responsible for their glow up. They fronted us, sis.

Shae Moisture marketing team

I’m typin’ on an Apple computer right now, wearing underwear from J. Crew, so it’s definitely not being a bedfellow with racist ass corporations that has me in my feelings. I think it’s that I let this product get way close to me. I’m used to being betrayed by Facebook, or Nike, or Panera Bread, but I felt safe with Shea Moisture. I let them into my bathroom. Shea has seen me naked.

I know that capitalism is a global phenomenon, and I know that we are all unwilling participants in its maintenance, but damn! Why they gotta do me like that? So close and personal of a betrayal, while also not failing to reflect the pitfalls (inherently anti-me&you) of a free market economy.

And really, Shea’s move is about the free market–and how the ‘free’ market always tips its hand against your black ass. It’s evident that the product line wanted to make more coin, but for what reason did it have to move at the expense of their loyal customers? The answer is obvious: Black People Can’t Have Nothing Nice and For Themselves, lest reverse racism. Philly wants to have an all-black BLM chapter meeting? Reverse racist. Greenwood, Tulsa? Cancelled. MOVE? Bombed. A hair product exclusively for people who can’t find a brand to meet their specific needs? #AllHairTexturesMatter.  

I’m truly glad that the internet exists. Not 2 hours after the advertisement had been posted, black femmes descended upon Shea Moisture like hood kids at the public pool on Memorial Day. Here are a couple quick reviews:
 Shae Moisture review 2

Shae Moisture review 3
There’s something truly remarkable about a company trying to stunt on us, only to be brought down from a 5 to 3 star rating in a New York minute (I’m sure it’ll be down to two stars by the time you read this). What’s not so surprising is how the Hoteps claimed that “there are more important issues to focus on than beauty supplies.”


This is staunchly ironic, because it’s these same hotep niggas constantly running their mouths about Weaves, Make-up and Nails, but I’m sleep, though.

I am usually exhausted by yt supremacy. I don’t even want to talk about it in depth. I actually have a hard time being shocked or surprised by anti-blackness. My reactions are often condensed into the same exact replication of an emoji that I would place on the brief headline of so-and-so black person being shot to death by white police today.

Lately, I’m kind of like an eraser that has worn out, but instead of it being a wooden pencil–with a metal ferrule that would cut deeply into the paper–it’s a mechanical pencil, so it just has this dull, plastic, ineffective awfulness about it.

But this has me bitter. I’m bitter that this hair product was supposed to work wonders for my naps, but I came too late to the party. I’m annoyed that both Caroline’s Daughters and SheaMoisture was EVERYONE’S first Natural Move, only to both eventually be bought by a yt corporation. I’m bitter because I saw that stupid ass advertisement with those yt people and that poor lightskint girl.

I’m bitter because I still have like a whole ass bottle of both the curl enhancing smoothie and the Shampoo. I’m annoyed that the brand still carries a label that says founded in 1912, along with a story about a the matriarch of the family (no doubt with 4c hair) starting the company in West Africa, and breaking her back to make it into what it is today. I would bet if Sofi Tucker was alive, half of the products offered by her descendants wouldn’t even work on her black ass!

I’m bitter, and how I assuage my bitterness is being messy as fuck. So, here is a list of small black-owned companies that are not owned by venture capitalists (yet), who offer products specifically for your melanated self, and who you should check out and see if it’s the right fit for you!:

Naturally Me
Khemistree Naturals
Taliah Waajid
Camille Rose Naturals
Cantu Beauty
The Mane Choice
Maui Moisture
Lottabody
As I Am
Jireh Hair Care Products
Aunt Jackie
Oyin Handmade: Natural Products for Happy Healthy Hair
Alikay Naturals
My Honey Child
Afroveda
Qhemet Biologics
Uncle Funky’s Daughter
LUV Naturals
Coconut Oil


Kejhonti Neloms is a queer student/teacher at JCTC. He has dreams of starting a community center for black queer kids.

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