Mielle Organic’s cult-favorite hair oil is flying off the shelves — here’s why
A viral TikTok video promoted Mielle's rosemary-based oil to mainstream beauty lovers, and many longtime users aren’t too happy about it
We love to see a Black woman-owned business thriving, and thanks to TikTok, Mielle Organics’ already high sales have recently been booming. If you’re a member of the natural hair community, you are likely already familiar with the brand, and may even have some of its products in your cabinet. In fact, Mielle Organics’s Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil has become a staple in many natural hair routines as it seems to promote hair growth.
However, as of late, longtime Mielle Organics users have likely noticed a scarcity in their cult-favorite product’s availability. After Alix Earle — a Caucasian TikTok creator with 3.3 million followers — included the oil in a video highlighting her favorite Amazon purchases in 2022, her large, predominantly white following rushed to purchase the product. As Earle’s fans eagerly shopped for the influencer’s recommendation, frustration rose within the naturally kinky-curly hair community. Here’s why.
Lack of accessibility
Founder Monique Rodriguez created Mielle Organics after going on her own natural hair journey and finding a void in products she could relate to as someone with kinky-curly hair — a lack of representation in the haircare aisle is an experience all women of color share. And despite stores like Target and Ulta actively working to bridge the gap, the “ethnic hair care” section continues to be notably smaller than the multitude of aisles filled with haircare products designed for straight hair textures. As a result, in-person “ethnic haircare” sections and aisles typically have a limited selection of products available to shop. Since Earle’s viral video, many Mielle loyalists are finding the product is sold out at their local stores, further limiting their accessibility.
Not everything is for everyone
While it is always refreshing to see non-POC people supporting Black-owned brands, some products are simply not designed for them. The Mielle Organics site describes its rosemary oil as “safe for color-treated hair and formulated for all hair types and textures.” However, some women with naturally straight textures have complained that rosemary oil may have caused them to experience hair loss. Though Mielle Organics’ rosemary-infused oil is described to be for all hair types, the brand primarily caters to wavy, curly, and coily hair textures, as evidenced by its hair quiz.
Fear of history repeating itself
Before breaking this down, it’s important to repeat that we are always rooting for anybody Black, especially in the beauty space. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge a pattern Black consumers know all too well. As noted by professor and Twitter user Uju Anya, seeing Mielle’s bestselling product adopted by a demographic that hasn’t been fundamental to the brand’s success is triggering. For her, it was reminiscent of the erasure many felt in 2017, when Black-founded brand Shea Moisture produced an ad featuring predominantly white models and no kinky textures whatsoever.
“Black women have legitimate reasons to side eye white folks ‘discovering’ Mielle hair oil,” tweeted Anya. “When brands BW single-handedly kept afloat start chasing white money, they raise prices, change formulas, and erase BW from their image.”
Historically, a rise in the popularity of Black-owned/founded brands has led to significant price increases and changes in both marketing and product formulas. While these changes typically occur gradually, they significantly impact their consumers, especially when formula changes are made with the intention of catering to looser hair textures. Since its recent increase in demand, the price of Mielle Organics’s Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil has notably increased. Prior to the oil’s virality last week, it regularly retailed for approximately $8 to $10. Today, there are retailers on Amazon and Walmart selling the product for as high as $20.
As consumers shared their fear of Mielle Organics falling into an all-too-familiar pattern, the brand released a statement on January 3, ensuring their product formulas will remain the same.
“I also wanted to come here first to assure you directly that we have no plans to change the formula for Rosemary Mint Oil or any of our products,” said Rodriguez in a social media post. “There have been a few recent comments posted on this topic, but I can personally guarantee you that we are not making any ingredient changes. Please know that we would always inform you, in full transparency, if any adjustments are made to the products you love and trust.”
While it looks like Mielle has no plans to change, this controversy demonstrates how much influencer culture has impacted consumer culture. With over 540 thousand likes and comments like “Alix bought it, I must buy it” on the original post, a video that’s less than a minute long has created a cross-cultural controversy. Talk about influence.
Haniyah Philogene is a multimedia storyteller and Lifestyle reporter covering all things culture. With a passion for digital media, she goes above and beyond to find new ways to tell and share stories.
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