Thanks to social media, the booming direct-to-consumer model, and empowered women of color pioneering companies and products for other women of color, the beauty world—and the hair industry in particular—has flourished with options for black women. While there’s still certainly work to do, the last couple of years have proven that the best is yet to come in terms of access and convenience for women like myself who, for years, have put their thick, kinky curls through the ringer with product that weren’t really made for us.
The momentum of the category was only made more evident to me after trying and subsequently obsessing over a new Curl Gelee made specifically for my texture, created by none other than luxury brand Oribe. The gelee—developed as part of the brand’s forthcoming Highly Textured collection, its first catered to black women—acts as the perfect last step in my hair routine, meant to lock in moisture and give even day six curls just the right amount of natural sheen and definition.
Unlike a lot of other products I’ve used to achieve the same results, this Oribe gelee isn’t sticky or greasy; it leaves my hair touchable and light, exactly how I like it. I’m left feeling optimistic that the rest of the line, spanning 11 total products meant to work through the tightest 4C coils, will do right by women of color who deserve the option of having a luxurious, legacy brand on their top shelf, should they wish to. The collection will officially launch on April 1 at oribe.com. (The prices, meanwhile, all hover in the usual Oribe range—$38 to $63—and have that same incredible scent. The Curl Gelee is $44.)
To be completely transparent, I generally approach efforts of diversity within the beauty industry with utmost caution, especially from mass brands. (I was burned one too many times in the pre-Fenty world). But from the start, Oribe showed its commitment to not only entering the category, but truly doing right by it and its consumers by tapping an actual black woman, celebrity hairstylist and beauty expert Stacey Ciceron, to authenticate the collection.
Ciceron offered an invaluable wealth of knowledge to the brand when it came to all things natural hair, from product innovation to ensuring that the brand participated in and prioritized community outreach.
“When Oribe global ambassador James Pecis approached me about the opportunity, I was very excited to be a part of something so major and, in my opinion, revolutionary,” Ciceron tells Glamour. From there, she would spend months conceiving and narrowing down product offerings, testing on real hair with real models with the hair type (and even her own hair), and working with the Oribe education team, as well as the brand’s salon stylists, for them to test and interact with the product as well.
“I weighed in on the ingredient list and consulted on the texture of product—how it feels on our hair and how effective it is,” she says, later adding that ingredients such as essential and natural oils were non-negotiables. “Highly textured hair requires more moisture and care, so I wanted to be sure we address those needs.”
Having used the product myself, Ciceron’s involvement and expertise is evident in the final product. The way the gelee smoothes into my curls without making them feel heavy or damp, the way it defines without drying or crunching—it makes sense that a black woman was in the room, and only speaks to the need for more women of color in positions of power in the beauty space. Surely, brands big and small should be looking to this debut as an example of how to thoughtfully and successfully champion diversity within their product offerings.
“Brands should realize that inclusivity doesn’t mean that one product will work for everyone,” Ciceron closes. “Hair is not ‘one size fits all.'”