Natural hair is not just a moment, but a movement. I’ve been natural for almost a decade—attempting to grow out my relaxer in college to no avail, but succeeding post-grad. Since then, my mother and best friends have also opted for their natural coils and curls and so have countless other black women all around the world. It all feels quite reminiscent of the 70’s when my grandparents embraced the ‘fro, but this time around, the shift feels permanent and beauty brands the world over are either sprouting up to cater to our hair needs or are evolving to include a vaster texture range.
Oribe is one such brand: long a favorite of icons of color including Naomi Campbell and Jennifer Lopez and women with curls all over the globe. The industry was rocked this year when its Cuban-born founder, Oribe Canales passed, but it seems fitting that one of the newest launches after his untimely death is one that embraces and seeks to care for textures that would broaden and deepen his legacy.
The brand’s Highly Textured line specifically caters to Type 4 coils and curls—a first for Oribe as it hasn’t previously centered or targeted natural hair with its past collections.” This collection is a passion project for the brand, and a line that Oribe Canales always dreamed of creating,” a spokesperson for the brand told All The Pretty Birds. “In the last 10 years, there has been a universal movement toward wearing hair naturally. Market research and our expanding global footprint have encouraged us to expand our curl line and product portfolio.”
The range features four products that are focused on conditioning and styling—a masque, detangler/leave-in, styling butter, and curl gelee. Oribe’s Product Development team interviewed natural hair bloggers, consumers, and stylists to understand their holistic lifestyle, as well as how much of an emotional and physical impact styling has on their day-to-day. They also spoke with chemists who formulate textured hair products to understand the unique science and structure of the type 4 textures.
Oribe also brought in the expertise of hairstylist Stacey Ciceron to ensure a professional well-versed in textured hair could weigh in and ensure the efficacy of what Oribe was releasing. “Before James Pecis, who I’ve known and worked with for 14 years, introduced me to the team, I was already a fan of the brand, especially its product performance and how it’s received by my peers in the industry,” Ciceron stated. “When they came to me, the products hadn’t been produced yet, so I was involved from the start.” From the beginning, Ciceron knew the Oribe team was very serious about coming out with the best products for type 4 hair textures—refreshing to hear and a relief as so many already established brands approach catering to natural hair as a gimmick and not a long-term business strategy. “Oribe’s goal is to provide high-quality, performance-driven products for every hair type and this launch fulfills that need for those with highly textured hair,” she stated, ensuring that the brand now has 360-service. “I was happy to work with the brand and see that this movement is happening in the industry.”
Ciceron spoke in great detail about the fundamentals with Oribe: the differences across hair types, understanding the different type 4 texture, density, and porosity were all essential. “You have to be able to address all different combinations” she confirmed—absolute real-life proof of this in a conversation amongst my friends mere days after in which we discussed all having multiple type 4 hair textures on each of our heads.
She also discussed both the emotional and psychological challenges that people with textured hair still face: case in point a recently-passed New York City law that prevents hair discrimination. “We addressed their mindset, the struggle, the time commitment, spend, budget and industry beauty standards.” Once the development process began, Ciceron and the Oribe team narrowed down the products they wanted for the initial launch and came up with the four in the collection that best work on women with type 4 textures. “What I appreciated was that we were testing on real hair and real models with the right type of hair.” And they did a lot of testing: in the office, on Ciceron’s clients, and she even tested it on her own curls.
I put it to the test as well and I was pleasantly surprised with the results. The line doesn’t feature a shampoo, conditioner, or co-wash, so I cleansed and conditioned my 4B coils with Crème of Nature’s new charcoal line of products. And upon trying the Oribe masque, I was engulfed with a sweet aroma that literally smells like luxury. I could see the masque defining my curls as it worked its magic and my hair felt unbelievably soft after washing it out. I then used the leave-in conditioner and curl-defining crème post-shower, which upped the moisture and softness quotient. And the gelee got maximum use during my twist-out. When it was all said and done, my hair was soft, shiny, and my curls looked amazing.
This collection is a great example of how any brand (no matter the size) can take an active and well thought-out approach to inclusivity in their business. Though products that just happen to work for type 4 hair textures—if a natural-haired influencer or consumer does the work and makes the discovery—are nice to find, companies can take a mindful path to creating products that work well for specific hair, without alienating others. The idea is to be so comprehensive and so diverse that there’s something for everyone. Oribe is certainly on the right track and we can’t wait to see what the brand does next.