Byline: Andrea M. Grossman

NEW YORK — Natural hair styles are back — in a big way. In the ethnic hair care arena, that translates to launching more products geared toward addressing dreadlocks rather than extensions. It also means new lines are sprouting up to replenish the natural oils African-American hair types need to improve shine and prevent breakage.
According to Melvin Stringer, vice president of sales for Standard Distributing, hair dressing products with natural shea butter, carrot oil, tea tree oil and olive oil will assist in keeping natural locks conditioned. These products, which are natural, are replacing products that are petroleum based.
“Natural is lighter on the hair,” Stringer pointed out. Styling products will also be big sellers this year, Stringer predicted. “Gels help the way styles are maintained and created. However, people are looking for ease of maintenance, so gels will be big, but not curl-activated gels.”
Styling-focused company JM Products is getting in on the styling trend. They are launching a men’s product line to coincide with hair trends. “Men are letting their hair grow. They are still wearing it short, but they need a product to loosen up their hair to enhance a natural look.”
With that in mind, JM Products is now shipping Black Magic, a complete collection of men’s styling items. The line includes aftershave, moisturizing spray, conditioning shampoo, oil moisturizer, aerosol hair spray and a light pomade. Product prices will range from $2.50 for the pomade to $5.50 for the aftershave. While Curry would not comment on sales expectations, industry sources expect Black Magic to register approximately $2.5 million in 2001.
The Colomer Group, which beefed up its presence in the ethnic hair care market with its acquisition of Revlon’s professional business last March, is slated to reveal several new stockkeeping units this year.
The Creme of Nature brand is launching a styling line this April. Products include Degrees Styling Spray, which can be used with heat to hold hair naturally, in addition to serving as a styling lotion. There is also a Fortifying Serum, which can be used as a leave-in conditioner or a wrap. A Shine & Control Elixer helps control frizz and a Styling Spritz is designed for strong hold. Each will retail for $5.99.
Focus group responses also prompted Colomer to make drastic packaging changes on many of the products it acquired. Last quarter, Fabu-Laxer hair relaxing kit began to sport three faces with different hair styles on boxes, rather than one. And this April, the African Pride brand will take on a whole new look. Dan Villarroel, director of marketing for Colomer’s ethnic product group, said boxes will now feature portraits of women — rather than drawings — with trendy hair styles.

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