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The Millions of $ Spent by Black Women on Hair


New Member
I was shocked to see how much money black women spend on hair the world over. I realized that in one year, I probably spend 200 a month, 2400 a year at LEAST on my hair going to the salon weekly. That's why I am going to grow my hair out long and ease up on the weekly salon visits. I won't perm my own hair, but I am sure I can handle washing it myself.--BR

African hairstyles withstand test of time
by Irmin Durand
Posted Tue, 30 Sep 2003

If hairstylists and beauty brands are surprised by the amount of money spent on hair care by black populations world-wide, they shouldn't be.

Black people's fixation with their hair dates back to the dawn of time, and this is exactly what the Dapper museum in Paris sets out to show in an exhibition entitled Parures de Tête (literally, head costumes) that opened this week and runs to July 11, 2004.

African-Americans spend an estimated 325 million dollars (euros) on hair care per year; in Brazil the black hair care market is valued at over two billion dollars; in Britain, 70 percent of beauty expenditure in the "ethnic" category, or some 50 million dollars, is on hair care; South African women spend approximately 130 million dollars annually on their hair.

Yet this trend did not start with today's hair-weave and braid-toting teenagers. It was inherited directly from their African ancestors.

At the Musée Dapper, head dresses, masks, statues and hair accessories, some 100 pieces from tribal groups hailing from approximately 20 countries, show the primordial role of the hair in ancient African societies.

Even on the simplest statues and masks, some of them practically featureless, the hair is represented in minute, elaborate detail.

"In ancient times, African artists focused primarily on the sex organs, certain animal features and on the head which was at the time very important in the portrayal of humans", says Bonny Gabin, Musée Dapper's cultural attaché. African tribes used their hair as a sign of their social position or in rituals, he said.

In Egypt, the Pharaoh's children wore a distinctive plait on the right side of the head throughout their lives; the Lobi women of Burkina Faso sported shaved heads, particularly after giving birth, while the men wore elaborate braided hair.

Before marriage, Ibo girls in today's Nigeria styled their hair into a horn tilting forward over their brows using clay, ground coal and palm oil; the young Turkana men of Kenya sat for hours while their elaborate hairstyles were prepared to mark the end of their initiation rites.

The tradition can be traced down to African-American society of the 1960s and 1970s where well-known figures such as activist Angela Davis and singer Roberta Flack used their hairstyles as signs of militancy or political activism.

Today's black people remain adventurous when it comes to their hair, but this is for altogether more frivolous reasons, namely the fashion statement.

An average head of shoulder-length braids, as worn by a large proportion of young black women today, takes approximately seven hours to style. Black heads today sport everything from the natural afro to locks of treated human hair "woven" amongst their own hair, and little West Indian boys have their hair decorated just as prettily as their sisters'.

So some direct links remain between ancient African tribes and today's black populations — the time and effort spent on styling their hair, the large variety of styles, the use of shear butter and other oils to nourish the hair.

It is to these remarkable styles and to their role in tribal art that the Dapper exhibition seeks to pay tribute.

"We are not trying to put across a specific message but we do want to show that hairdressing is timeless. It goes right back to the origins of the African race and is still very strong in African art", says Gabin.

With universalism and individualism as today's buzzwords, other ethnic groups are taking inspiration from the hairstyles of the African Diaspora, as testified by the number of white youths sporting braids, dreadlocks and hair extensions.

But given that black people have been perfecting the art of hair since long before Africa wore the political boundaries that it does today, it is probably a natural outcome that their tresses now have an impact on hairstylists the world over.


New Member
i estimated my salon visits and it came to about 300. i went to a dominican salon once a month for almost a year at 15 dollars a visit and 3 retouches at my regular salon for 40 dollars. as far as products go i'd say about 300 as well because none of my products are over 7 dollars.


New Member
Thanks for posting the article!
I want to see this exhibit. *whining* Why Paris?

Anyway, I can relate:
When I wore crocheted braids 1996-2003, I'd spend ~$70 a pop to have them redone about 4-5X yearly.

I've worn my hair relaxed since April 2003. In the intervening months, I've spent $500-$600 on chemical treatments at the salon, products, and tools (like my blowdrier, bonnet drier, and combs). THAT'S NOT OK WITH ME.

I really must to teach myself how to do my own touchups at home. I want to use cheaper products such that the $5.50 PCJ lye kit is the most expensive single item in my routine. *whining again* I don't even wear straight, rollerset hair that often, as my fine hair falls flat seconds after the style is completed. I look best in ringlets, and my hair is maintained best in a bun.

Self-relaxing is the final frontier.


Well-Known Member
u guys gotta be rich

I am making a website about my hair after I get out of school this semester. There will be a section about my hair budget.

By the end of 2003, I will have spent $272 dollars on haircare items and salon visits. Next year, my estimated budget is $190. I only use cheap products. My rule is not to buy a conditioner over $2.00, no protein conditioner over $9, alternate with homemade conditioners and treatments, & most important: Beg for free samples!

I think Adrienne said it best when she posted that the best thing to do is find a product that works for u and stick with it, not buying the next thing that someone raves about.


New Member
I'm not happy with this! In the last six months, I've spent $300 for two touch ups and approximately $300 on other hair products. So, I spent more in six months on hair care than I did in the previous six years!