Just in time for Christmas, Lush have released their long-awaited range specifically formulated for afro hairstyles. But is it worth the wait?
For anyone whose hair has ever been described as “unruly”, “coarse” or in need of “taming”, you will know that finding the perfect shampoo can often be a lot more difficult than simply picking up any old brand in the supermarket and hoping for the best. It’s a process often riddled with casual racism, where “frizz” is seen as the enemy and “perfect” hair is depicted in adverts as being flowing and shiny, growing down rather than up and out. To find products that cater for their specific texture, black women have regularly had to turn to home-made remedies or independent stores, often shouldering the costs of expensive imports or hard-to-find formulas.
"On Monday I might install my lace front, on Friday box braids down to the ground. The styles are endless, so you can imagine how many more products can be created. Afro hair is a journey"
Of course, the independent afro hair care market is also a great source of joy, and more than ever, we all need to do what we can to support the small businesses who sit at the heart of our communities. However, there is no denying that increased availability for afro-centric hair products on the high street is a real win for inclusivity and accessibility.
Boots have slowly increased the offering in their black haircare aisle (albeit with some early controversy over their perceivably disproportionate anti-theft labelling), and now, Lush have taken their own slice of the action, with a new range of conditioners and styling products that can be easily purchased both instore and online. Made up of seven products, the range is streamlined but thoughtfully considered, bringing back some old favourites as well as new.
With over 19 years of experience in the industry, this range can be credited to Lush’s afro hair care specialist Sarah Sango, who joined the HairLab team two and a half years ago and instantly recognised the need for increased variety in what the company had to offer, drawing on her own family recipes. “Our ‘fros are worn in different shapes and sizes,” she explains. “Hair grows up, out, and down. On Monday I might install my lace front, on Friday box braids down to the ground. The styles are endless, so you can imagine how many more products can be created. Afro hair is a journey, and mine with Lush is just getting started.”
With a respect for the versatility of afro hair in mind, Sarah and the team have set about creating a range that focuses on the retention of moisture, popularised by what is known as the LOC method—liquid, oil and cream. “This method involves applying three products in a particular order onto freshly washed hair. You can follow by twisting or braiding the hair strands together for a protective style, or just leave to air dry. This method helps to lock moisture into curls, leaving hair thoroughly moisturised. Wearing your hair in a protective style after using the LOC method is a great way to style and define curls without the use of heat.”
As is now customary with lush, it also smells delicious. “Power”, a thick caramel-coloured conditioner based on Lush’s classic favourite “Hair Necessities” is truly a scent like no other, with the core ingredients of maple syrup and sweet potato puree lingering long on the hair many days after washing, with a notable hydrating (but not greasy) shine. “Revive”, which was once known as R&B, has similar properties but is applied to define curls, locking in moisture and reducing breakage with oat milk, avocado butter and hints of jojoba and orange flower.
As someone with mixed-race shoulder-length hair that is prone to knotting and drying out, R&B has been a haircare saviour for years, and this rebrand has cemented Lush in my repertoire of conditioners, rich and luxurious without weighing down my hair or making my skin greasy in the same way that other thick conditioners have in the past.
"By aiming to diversify their offering, Lush have created something truly quite inclusive for all, minimising that search for the perfect “hero” product"
If “Revive” and “Power” manage to bottle the scents of spring and autumn, then “Glory” is definitely summer. Coconut cream, okra gel and extra virgin olive oil soften with ease—the perfect gentle option for teasing out knots in a wriggling youngster’s hair or a particularly aggressive case of bedhead. It has a sister in the avocado co-wash—a solid bar product that skips the shampoo phase and goes straight for conditioning in a process that has become immensely popular amongst those who are prone to dry scalps. Those with long hair or looser curls might find the bar a bit of a laborious lathering process for thorough coverage (not to mention the sticky storage), but it’s a good packaging-free option for those with short braids or puffs.
For styling, Renee’s “Shea Soufflé” and “Super Milk Spray” can be used on wet or dry hair as a kind of setting balm, defining curls and edges. Both have come in very handy for me on my work-from-home desk, quickly reviving the texture of lacklustre second or third-day hair before hopping on a zoom call. Formulated with more subtle scents of almond oil and shea butter, they go to work without interfering too much with the scent of the other conditioners, the final stage in any hair care routine.
So, is there a place for this kind of bespoke haircare on your Christmas list? In short, yes. Lush is certainly more expensive than your usual supermarket options, but quite comparable with that you might find in a black haircare market or imported aisle, and noticeably easier to get hold of.
A little goes a relatively long way, and the shelf time of approximately two years offers great value should you wish to stock up on the larger jars and sprays. There is also the eco-element—with simplistic packaging that can be easily reused or recycled in-store (with the option to redeem a free skin-mask when you return five empty pots to store), it’s a much more enticing buy than many comparative brands.
While this range is marketed with afro-textured hair in mind, plenty of the benefits on offer here could well be integrated into Caucasian hair routines. While thinner or straighter hair might not need this abundance of moisture with every wash, these products could well be treated as an indulgent mask or salve after heat-styling, or for those who regularly put their hair through the stripping effects of swimming or bleaching.
By aiming to diversify their offering, Lush have created something truly quite inclusive for all, minimising that search for the perfect “hero” product. In the eternal quest for haircare that actually satisfies afro hair’s need for moisture, my thirst might finally be quenched.
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