Black women’s hair is big business

When it comes to hairstyles, black women have no shortage of options. Braids, the natural short cuts, pink hair, black hair or blond hair – you name it. No request is out of the ordinary at beauty salons nationwide.

For many, hair is the highest priority.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, my hair is a 10,” beauty salon regular Wynter Hobson said while getting her hair done. Hair is so important, Hobson says, she’s willing to spend lots of time and money, to get the right look for her locks.

“Forty plus hours,” Hobson said when asked how much time goes into her hair. “I’ll spend 20 to 25 grand a year on some hair maybe.”

And it’s generating quite a payday. Hair extensions, wigs, and straightening relaxers, the black hair business is a huge industry worth nine billion dollars.

Though black women make up about 6.5 percent of the population, they buy up to 40 percent of all hair care products. It’s not just products. There are black hair books and magazines.

“There are no words to describe what black women, the relationship between black women and their hair and what it means,” Essence Magazine Beauty Editor Mikki Taylor told
“It is everything to us. It is where we express ourselves the most.”

Though it’s not cheap, some say it’s just the price of beauty.