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The Struggles Of Managing Your Hair As A Black Expat

I live in Malaysia, a beautiful Southeast Asian country often described as being ‘a melting pot’ of races and cultures. Let me be clear: this is not a piece attacking the country that I currently call home. It is designed to lift the lid on the black hair care industry and what I believe are its shortcomings. 

My experience of caring for my afro hair has been mixed whilst living in Malaysia. From finding few suitable, yet overpriced, products the expectation (from my experience) seems to be if you live in a smaller city in Asia and don’t have access to a black owned hair care shop, then your best option is to buy products abroad and then have them shipped out to you – often at a great expense. Or you can make do with what is available, but not necessarily designed for your hair type, in local shops.

During a recent trip to England, I witnessed how mainstream black hair care products had become in the two years I had been away and how much the industry had grown (now featuring widespread ranges on specialist shelves in Boots and Superdrug, for example.) In 2016, the UK’s black hair care industry was estimated to be worth £88 million. With the advancement of a number of black owned companies and products targeting afro and textured hair in the UK. This number is sure to have grown.