Black Women Are Upset Over SheaMoisture’s New Whitewashing Marketing Ploy

SheaMoisture (Facebook)

Updated Monday, April 24, 2017, 6:30 p.m. EDT: SheaMoisture has issued an apology stating that it really fucked up.



For years SheaMoisture has been the go-to hair product line for black women with natural hair. But it seems as though it’s now trying to capture a new base of users with its new marketing; but the company may lose its original fans in the process.

Over the last couple of weeks, SheaMoisture has been unveiling commercials that include nonblack women, and apparently many black women feel the company is now turning its back on those who have been supporting it for years.

Take a look at two of the commercials below:


SheaMoisture recently addressed the issue in an interview with interview with Hello Beautiful and stated that it wasn’t leaving black women behind:

We don’t take any of our community for granted and are a certified minority, black-owned, family-held business that has taken pride in serving our community for 25 years – when large conglomerates ignored women of color and simply marketed products to them vs. making products for them. We were there then – serving women who had historically been undeserved in the beauty industry – and that will never change (did we mention that we’re still in control of our company?).

We’ve never believed that one size fits all – especially for hair and skin needs, and today is no different. We’re proud to now self-manufacture more than 150 different hair care products to serve our community’s varying needs with specific formulations made for the individual – not the generalization or the stereotype. We do not believe that we should accept or adopt the thinking that has made it possible and easier for others to put any of us in a box. We have different hair and skin needs based on who we are as individuals. As a company, we have chosen to take a more thoughtful and specific approach to our products that is based on those needs – whether hair that is 4c, 3b, 2a, thick, thinning, damaged, dry, coily, curly, wavy, straight…or skin that is dry, oily, or distressed by psoriasis, eczema or any number of conditions – we’ve created a product for it. We make no apologies for solving for and speaking to our community as human beings and not as data points. It is the only way that we’ve been able to consistently address issues that few were willing to recognize on behalf of our communities – and continuing to make the highest quality products possible with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients continues to be our commitment for the future.


We can’t speak for other brands, but from our vantage point, no one gets erased because our commitment is unwavering and we have proven that time and time again for four generations. We share the same concerns, disappointment and angst that our community has every time our support helps to grow a business and it forgets its roots. Rest assured, we will never forget our roots and we will always hold up our community. Our family has understood this since 1912 – the value of listening to underserved consumers (whether the Naturalistas who began with us and empowered women from all backgrounds who now embrace their natural beauty as a result) and delivering on their unmet needs. We are moving forward to build this brand into the first global, family-owned brand with the purpose of our community at its core – one in which anyone who has supported us from the beginning until now can be even more proud – and there’s nothing disappointing in that. The only thing we’re looking to change is the world – and the way it does business. We think it’s time that somebody did.


We don’t have to change our award-winning formulations to appeal to someone they weren’t made for. We simply innovate new products to solve the needs our community identifies. This is true innovation and it allows us to serve in a much more personalized and customized way. It’s allowing us to raise the bar for how other companies are recognizing and serving all women – not a chosen few – with more.


But that statement still isn’t sitting well with those on social media. Many black women have expressed outrage on SheaMoisture’s Facebook page, and the company’s name is currently trending on Twitter.


But even with the new marketing, it seems as if the company is also excluding a certain hair type. Not all black natural-haired women have bouncy 2 or 3c curls, as one Facebook commenter noted:

Thanks for excluding 4c hair from your commercial, it’s nice to know that even though I have been using your products the majority of my life. You talk about inclusion but ignore your majority customer base.I won’t be using your skin care, hair care, or makeup line since you don’t think people who look like me and have hair like me shouldn’t be featured in your commercials.


Can you be mad at SheaMoisture for trying to get white-women coins? Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this fight because I’ve never used its products to begin with (shea allergy), but on one hand, I totally understand where some women are coming from. If I’d been supporting a company for years and then it went and changed its products’ formulas to be more inclusive, and therefore not really working for my hair, I’d be upset, too. But on the other hand, the company’s comments about sustainability are also true.

And the reverse has happened. There are companies, like the people behind Pantene, that are now promoting their so-called natural-hair products, or products suitable for black hair, because they’re trying to get black-women coins.


SheaMoisture may be trying to appeal to a broader base, but maybe the company went about it the wrong way?

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Yesha Callahan

Bye, Kinja! It's been fun (occasionally).