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Natural Hair Product Ads Using Wigged Models?

Avatar • Aug 31, 2014

by Elle of Quest for the Perfect Curl

It’s no secret that the natural hair product business is booming due to the increase in women choosing their natural hair over relaxers. Even several companies that traditionally catered to relaxed and straight hair have come out with lines for natural hair. Countless ads featuring big, coily, curly and kinky hair displayed on buses, billboards and online encourage naturals to try out a company’s products in hopes that their hair will yield the same results.

However, I often find myself looking at these ads slightly confused. Why? Because the hair shown is too perfect and natural hair isn’t perfect. Our hair is beautiful and frizzy at the same time. But time and time again, we are shown images that imply that we should never have a curl out of place. Take this ad below for African Pride’s new texture manageability system for example:

african_pride_natural_hair

It could be her hair, but it looks an awful lot like a wig. The hair is super shiny and perfectly coiffed. There’s no frizz and not a single stray curl poking out.

And then there’s Lottabody’s new Coconut & Shea Oils line – this is an ad for their Moisturize Me Curl & Style Milk:

Lottabody_natural_hair

Is this supposed to be their example of a wash and go? To me, it looks like a flexi-rod set. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a flexi-rod set, but I find it interesting that this is their best example of curly hair.

There have also been accusations of companies using stock photo models or images taken from the internet to sell their natural hair products rather than models who have actually used the products. This gives consumers skewed expectations of their results. I recall the time Curls used my photo in a tip of the month on creating bantu knots with Cashmere Curls. Funny thing is, I never used that product. Some smaller indie companies that do not have marketing dollars also reuse stock photos and we’ve seen the same model on multiple sites. I understand not having the advertising money that big companies have, but they could reach out to customers for pictures using their products as examples.

But isn’t this all simply a common marketing strategy? It’s certainly not unheard of across the beauty industry (using false lashes in mascara commercials, photoshopping extreme shine in hair ads or using models with extensions, using celebrities as spokespeople for boxed hair dyes), but I do wish that companies would be a bit more sincere with their advertising.

 

Do you feel as if some natural hair ads are dishonest? Have you seen any suspect ads?

 

Elle is the owner and editor of Quest for the Perfect Curl, a collaborative YouTube channel and blog dedicated to promoting healthy hair through research and the sharing of information. A former product junkie, Elle promotes the importance of product ingredients, knowing your hair properties, and your climate when choosing what products to use on your natural hair. She also frequently explores healthy hair care practices and methods to achieve the “perfect curl,” which to her is big, healthy hair.

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Dante
Dante
5 years ago

The first model pictured is Alasia Ballard from a previous cycle of America’s Next Top Model. She has bra-strap length hair which wowed the judges.

curious
curious
5 years ago
Reply to  Dante

Bra strap length wowed them? why cause she is black

Queen D
Queen D
5 years ago
Reply to  curious

No I think it was because if I remember correctly she had on a really unflattering wig when she first met them, and when they asked her could she remove the wig, they just didn’t understand why she was wearing one when her own hair looked so much better I guess. Wigs are great (I wore one this whole weekend!) but hers just didn’t look right.

Zuri
Zuri
5 years ago

I’m not saying that it right but I think it’s just marketing in general. Just like ads show photo shopped women or even in hair ads catered to people with straight hair the habit is always thicker, longer, shiner and more perfect then any hair seen in real life. The problem is that as a society we have unrealistic beauty standards for everything not one person actually meets our standards which is why even the most beautiful and fit people need to be photo shopped. It’s sad

Darlyn
Darlyn
5 years ago

First and foremost, I apologize if any of BGLH’s readers are offended. I have no intentions of offending anybody. From my experience as a former aspiring model, Black models are usually unable to wear their real hair natural due to the fact that so many clients (those who book models) thinks that natural hair is unattractive (especially those with 4c like myself). I’m not referring to models who wear short cropped natural hair. Sure, models like Wakeema Hollis exist but there are no black models with natural hair doing top modeling gigs such as Victoria’s Secret (even though I personally… Read more »

lv
lv
5 years ago

The marketing techniques are absolutely dishonest. However, dishonesty is the core of marketing for any product. The problem with marketing natural hair products dishonestly is the frustration that will be had by the newbie who expects the use of certain product will create perfectly coiled curls. As a type 4 hair natural, I had came to the point where I appreciated my coily curly, kinky texture that was not always perfectly coifed. Perfectly coifed to me means perfectly healthy, curly shiny kinky hair, not perfect “sunkissed alba”, “mahogany curls” type of curls. Dont get me wrong, I love those girls,… Read more »

O
O
5 years ago

I don’t believe any of the pictures I see in adverts to show of hair care products, cosmetics or clothes. Simply because some graphical designers who have shown me and other people the model’s pictures before they enhance them. In addition in Europe some major brands have been exposed using fake lashes for mascara adverts and making untrue claims with other cosmetics. So now manufacturers have to state what enhancements they have used on models and the number of people in their surveys/research in adverts in print media or on TV. In the case of using your picture if you… Read more »

Rommy
Rommy
5 years ago

My natural hair is not frizzy all the time. There are times that I have bombass hair so the the hair not being frizzy is not an issue for me. The perfection in the pics are standard for the beauty industry and one would be hard pressed to see an ad for a hair product with frizzy hair and flyaways. My only issue with most of these ads is that the hair is usually professionally done and the models are not always actual product users. The Mane Choice ad bothers me because while the owner has really long hair she… Read more »

Adía
Adía
5 years ago

Ads are dishonest?! Guess what, the sky is blue too. If it’s not a wig on the model, it’s photoshopped, just like every other ad in the world. If you want to know what the product actually does, try it out or check YouTube and see how it works on others.

Elle
Elle
5 years ago
Reply to  Adía

THANK YOU Adia! “I’m not a doctor, BUT I PLAY ONE ON TV”! Ring a bell? Never in the history of the ad — print, TV, internet — has anyone EVER used real hair, eyelashes, weight loss models, before-and-after botox, etc., etc., etc. Does anyone think the beer, fruit, ham and yogurt in commercials is really that color and consistency? That the make-up in ads isn’t mixed with other brands and pure paint to achieve a perfect color and result? Chests, toes, noses, hair, eyes are all mercilessly shopped. Does anyone think Giselle’s REAL hair looks and flows like that?!… Read more »

arosenbklyn
5 years ago

This is like being mad that commercials use actors.

Tina
Tina
5 years ago

The young woman featured on the African Pride box is a natural. She was on America’s Next Top Model, and wore her natural hair.

Elle
5 years ago
Reply to  Tina

Yep! That doesn’t mean that her hair is natural (esp as a wash and go) in that picture or they didn’t photoshop her hair or do something to it. The point is that her hair looks 100% perfect, which is a very difficult look to achieve for anyone.

Melissa
Melissa
5 years ago

I just assume that all natural hair ads are being at least a little dishonest. At best, they had a professional stylist doing the models’ hair with the actual products in question, which means that I’m not going to get the same results because I’m not a professional stylist. Or the model might have a completely different hair texture than mine — Miss Jessie’s, for example, is notorious for using models with looser hair textures. My hair is not gonna look like the Pillow Soft Curls ad. At worst, they’re using a wig or weave and my hair is definitely… Read more »

Chanda
Chanda
5 years ago

The model in the L’Oreal EverCurl ad also has on a wig I believe. The girl in that Lottabody ad above looks as if her hair was straightened and the then curled w/heat. Now the models in the AsIAm ads and Design Essential ads are the only ones that I’m certain it’s the real deal.

me!
me!
5 years ago

Important to note that all advertisements have been altered with photoshopping. The photoshop could be the reason for the false look, like the shine on t he hair.

Knotty Natural
5 years ago

This practice isn’t anything new; check any hair color commercial and most of the women are wearing lace fronts.

tld
tld
5 years ago

OMG!! I have been thinking this for years! Thanks for finally saying this. Even when I was relaxed I thought really she’s wearing a wig. Now for us curly girl’s really WIGS, please stop, we are smarter than that. Great Article.

T

imani
imani
5 years ago

Honestly it pisses me off bc it’s false advertising. I understand photoshopping in a bit of sheen, perfecting a frizzy lock or two…but a wig when selling natural haircare products? ALL these natural Internet bloggers who actually do their own hair & probably could boost a companies sales if they used real people..that would seem like a worthyinvestment! Using the LAME excuse ” we don’t have a marketing budget” to steal photos or mislead consumers with WIG WEAR ING models is just shady! If you can’t afford to show real testimonies on your product, place a disclaimer along with your… Read more »

silkynaps
silkynaps
5 years ago

The first model looks like Alasia from ANTM. She always had pretty hair. The second model looks to be wearing extensions. The texture of the hair and the volume of the hair just don’t seem to go together. Both pictures are styled hair…some type of roller set. Is it dishonest? When it comes to styling, I think, by now, most of us are sophisticated enough to know what our hair will and won’t do on its own. However, there are still people out there that are completely clueless about afro textured hair and truly believe that applying the product alone… Read more »

Jacky
Jacky
5 years ago

Interesting topic. I’d been thinking about this for a while because I see a lot of ads for natural hair products with models that have hair that looks fake( in my opinion ) or professionally styled and which looks extremely different from actual natural hair. These marketers don’t know that they’re actually turning away some customers by not giving them any real proof that the product works. When I see such ads, I stare at them skeptically before INTENTIONALLY choosing to not buy the product(s) unless I read positive reviews from people who have actually tried the product(s). Yes, it’s… Read more »

Audine
Audine
5 years ago

So What??? Who cares? This is taking PCness too far. All ads create “unrealistic expectations” They are bloody adverts. Lol

Any pantene or herbal essences ad will prove that. Not one of my Caucasian friends has hair like the hair models on TV or on dye boxes. It is not a conspiracy, it is the world from time immemorial. Relax please

maralondon
maralondon
5 years ago

I was offended by the comment ‘natural hair isn’t perfect’. Whose hair does the author consider perfect? What is perfect to one person may not be to another. If there weren’t all these images of so called perfect hair there wouldn’t be so many women unhappy with themselves. It’s a fact that whether you’re a white or black model doing a photo shoot there’ll be a group of make up artist and hair stylist prepping them for that ‘perfect look’ before they are even photographed. Then there’s all the photoshop work to further enhance the images.

Anita
Anita
5 years ago

Give us some credit. We are not stupid. Wig or not we should know our hair and what it can or can’t. Do we need a reason to complain? Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.

Mango
Mango
5 years ago

In all honesty — I’m not too bothered. I’m more concerned with the companies that appeal to natural hair market and use harmful ingredients e.g. laden their products with stuff that’s neither good for our hair or our bodies. Let me reiterate — I’m so tired of these old crusty companies popping out their ‘new’ toxic forms of ‘curly custard’ and expecting us to feel appreciated that they remembered us so we should feel obliged to buy it. Honestly, I don’t care if such products will give me the most beautiful head of coils/curls I’d ever have in my life… Read more »

Alia
5 years ago
Reply to  Mango

This is so true. I live in UK and the only way to get a good natural hair product is online or using my own. Is just so hard to find products with no cones, sulfates, etc in shops and beauty supply stores!

curious
curious
5 years ago

There is a youtuber NaturallyQuinn she is a model she has a hair journey video and she shows the hair ads she has done and says some of the are weave and wigs

B3 Fearless
B3 Fearless
5 years ago

I agree with Mango. I’m more upset by the amount of potentially harmful, toxic and/or poor quality ingredients that are found in the products marketed for Black hair than the wig wearing models in advertisements. It’s no secret that a LOT of what you see in ads for most products are made through enhancements to the models or photo shopping. But i have to admit that recently in the last few months with the amount of “natural” products that I’m seeing in the beauty supply stores, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, etc. it has been bothering me that a LOT of… Read more »

NapturallyKia
NapturallyKia
5 years ago

We all know about marketing gimmicks. One cannot be surprised. If you believe the models on these printed & televised ads then.…

Honeybrown1976
Honeybrown1976
5 years ago

Color me unsurprised.

NubianPrize
NubianPrize
5 years ago

I’ve thought this all along with natural hair ads. Why expect them to be different? It’s done in EVERY kind of ad that features visuals : mascara, white women’s hair products, hair dye, fast foods, clothing, diet ads,fitness workouts, etc. Ever notice that magazine photos of plus sized clothes show the clothes on smaller women? They seldom if ever show the same kind of very heavy women you see on the streets. The natural hair ads want us all to believe that every kinky head of hair can use their products & wind up looking like Tracy Ellis Ross. NOT… Read more »

Butterflysoulfire
Butterflysoulfire
5 years ago
Reply to  NubianPrize

I agree, ads generally are more art than photography. What isn’t completely fake to begin with, such as mascara ads featuring models wearing fake lashes, is often heavily airbrushed, as can be seen in 99% of skin cream ads. False advertising is the norm, so buyers must always beware. Don’t fall for the hype. I stopped subscribing the women’s magazines several years ago so I wouldn’t be bombarded with all the photoshopped images in ads and articles.

Gugu Tshuma
Gugu Tshuma
5 years ago

I definitely think some may be wigs etc but the model shown in the orange box is form America’s Next Top Model and she definitely has super long, healthy hair. Everyone was actually shocked she was hiding such great hair under a wig.
I’m not surprised about the rest though, like someone said before, why expect them to be different? It’s all about getting people to buy

Miss Elisa K.
5 years ago

Everyone makes great points. Yes Elle, it is a shame that they don’t market honestly. And as you pointed out, the beauty industry has been using falsies to enhance pictures and product outcomes for years. However, the big names have marketing teams and they are following trends and what we deem beautiful. A curl isn’t out of place because when ever we see a natural’s picture of her hair, we smash her (the majority of viewers/black people in general) if she does have a hair out of place. Or if it is not a perfect fro. My pics with my… Read more »

lottie b!
5 years ago

Gugu Tshuma made a point “the model shown in the orange box is form America’s Next Top Model and she definitely has super long, healthy hair. Everyone was actually shocked she was hiding such great hair under a wig.” The fact is she has worn WIGS before perhaps for photo shoots in the past so why wouldn’t she wear one for this one advertisement too? None of this surprises me (and obviously no one else). Everyone made great points about the chemicals in the products and THAT is what we SHOULD focus on most.

JoAnn
JoAnn
5 years ago

I agree Elle! It’s similar to cosmetic company’s advertising mascara using models wearing false eyelashes. Except in this case I believe that Companies selling and advertising Natural Hair products are sending a very wrong and mixed message. The message is that it should not look too natural, be too kinky and never be out of place. Those companies do not appeal to me for those reasons.

Jinjin
Jinjin
5 years ago

I have to say, the first picture is exactly what my wash and go looks like. No flyaways, perfectly formed ringlets. People always assume I use a curling iron, but all I need is a comb through in the shower with conditioner and my ringlets look like I painstakingly curled my hair with a 1/4 inch barrel iron. Nobody believes the perfection of my natural curls, not even my own mother, not even other 3 type girls. That being said, I know this is very rare because of the reaction I get from any and every race, and thats what… Read more »

tavi
tavi
5 years ago

Ok so actually the model from the first picture I was on America’s next top model and if you watch the show you can see that her hair type was wavy and shiny and more curly than kinky.…so.I don’t doubt for a second that the is her hair …it’s just probably done using product and styling .….I get the point of the article but there are also many nAtural products with models who have the type of hair your describing and you shouldn’t b bad mouthing other products who use a different look especially without having done your research .I… Read more »

Andrea
Andrea
5 years ago

Honestly I don’t pay much attention to these ads so I hadn’t really noticed. There are not enough ads in the world to make me put overpriced vaseline in my hair. I makemy purchases on reviews I read or watch on forums and yt. I can make my hair look perfectly withno frizz whatsoever but I mess it up on purpose because it looks like a wig.

beatrice
beatrice
5 years ago

It’s not really that surprising is it? Go to McDonalds.…the actual burger that you get is a disappointment compared to the picture shown in the advertisement right?

Tehrani
Tehrani
5 years ago
Reply to  beatrice

Yep. Every hair ad is this way no matter the target.

Leah
Leah
5 years ago

To be clear, I am a naturalista. I have only blow-dried and flat ironed my hair once this summer. But even when I don’t put heat to my hair, it never looks how it’s portrayed on those boxes. I am only commenting on this topic because I know for a fact that the model on the Africa’s Pride box is definitely NOT wearing a wig. I am an avid watcher of ANTM (America’s Next Top Model), and anyone who is an enthusiast of the show like I am knows that the young lady in question is Alasia from cycle 14.… Read more »

Patricia Kayden
Patricia Kayden
5 years ago
Reply to  Leah

Yes, I remembered her as soon as I saw that photo. Glad to see she’s till modeling.

Juanita
5 years ago

this post is actually pretty hilarious, especially since I know the first model personally and used to go to school with her in Marietta, Georgia. She’s even prettier in person and, yes, that is all her hair. So I doubt the ads are fostering some vindictive campaign to make natural hair look better than it actually does. The last I checked our hair can (and does) look this awesome…ijs I can’t speak on the second model or the validity of her texture. But I’m sure those who watched America’s Next Top Model will recognize Alasia Ballard and have no problems… Read more »

Krissy Monique
Krissy Monique
5 years ago
Reply to  Juanita

So true!

NYC60
NYC60
5 years ago

I think it’s CRAAAAZY that the black community is so fixed on hair. Jeez… it really can’t be that difficult to take care of your natural hair. A wig is a wig. Nothing real about it.

Scarlett
5 years ago

As a brand owner of a small indie haircare company, it was important to me to only show models who have my products in their hair. I also wanted to display how all textures of hair look in their natural state and not trying to make a 4C texture look like 3A because I want women to love their hair as it grows no matter what. Being able to represent the different textures also shows how great the products work for everyone.

Tehrani
Tehrani
5 years ago

Welcome to the world of white and non black women. You have arrived! This is something that we’ve been dealing with for ages! So glad you ladies understand our concerns now.

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