Introducing Texture Talk, a column that celebrates and delves deep into the vibrant world of curly hair, from crowns of free-flowing curls to strands that are tucked away in protective style.
The male grooming industry has exploded into a multi-billion dollar business, but thanks to its runaway success, much of which is due to the beard movement, the industry has failed to recognize a particular client. with incredible purchasing power – black men.
Whether located on their head or face, black men’s afro-textured hair needs are unique, but the product lines aimed at them in mass and premium markets are grossly under-represented. It is rare to find priming solutions on the shelves of large retailers, especially the high end, and each time you do, the products are usually assigned to a separate and dismal section.
Aaron Wallace is on a mission to change that narrative. The British hairstylist who became the founder of the grooming brand has his own eponymous range of natural hair and beard care for black men, a line born from his barbershop in south-east London. “The way I got into the Aaron Wallace brand was simply by having conversations [with clients]. By cutting hair day in and day out, you become not only someone’s hairdresser, but also their hair doctor, ”Wallace says.
Through these discussions, Wallace says he noticed that many of his black male clients were struggling with the same hair issues, like constant dryness and receding hairline. Realizing the lack of products on the market that properly meet their needs, and uncomfortable recommending most of what existed, the hairstylist decided to take action with a four-piece line without paraben (which is now officially available in Canada via international shipping) that easily fits into any grooming routine, no matter how simple or extensive. “I just found out there was such a need for my clients – and for myself. [Being a barber], I thought I was in the best position to find a solution to this problem.
Since launching the Aaron Wallace brand, the entrepreneur has closed his store to focus solely on his hair and beard care line. “The goal was to produce high quality, multifunctional products,” he says.
We recently caught up with the former barber virtually to discuss the ingredients of heroes, build his brand and the grooming industry in general. Read on for what he shared.
On building your skincare brand and landing on the right ingredients and the right hero formula:
“The first thing I did was look at the main differences between Afro hair and other hair types. By researching the basic makeup of Afro-textured hair, I was able to find some really good ingredients to meet the needs of Afro hair. For example, with textured hair one of the main issues we are very prone to is dryness due to the curl patterns, especially when you live in colder countries. So once I got the issues I wanted to tackle, it was all about the hero ingredients. I found this mango butter [is great] to maintain hair hydration and that black seed oil is one of those almost mythical ingredients: it has so many holistic health benefits in terms of cleaning the hair and [promoting] hair growth. Mango seed butter and black seed oil ended up being the two staples I wanted to work with.
After that, I became the guinea pig. I tested all the other ingredient ideas on myself and tested different formulations until I got to a point where I liked them. I then brought products to clients and other black men and held a few focus groups to get their opinions and feelings on what they thought could be improved. From there, we started to do the manufacturing. “
On his full line of Aaron Wallace products:
“Our goal has always been to find solutions for healthy Afro hair. I have found that to really grow and maintain Afro hair, you have to clean it and preferably with a natural cleanser that doesn’t strip the hair of its natural oils too much. Then you need to revitalize with, again, a natural conditioner that helps strengthen and improve the actual condition of the hair strand. Then it is about retaining moisture. So we started with our shampoo, conditioner and hair moisturizer, and the final step was my hair and beard oil, which helps seal in all the moisture you added and adds extra nutrients.
On what still needs to change in traditional grooming to better serve black men:
“Accessibility is one of the key aspects of our importance. When I first started, there were hardly any products on the market for black men. In the UK it was a big quest to go looking for afro hair stores to start with, and when you found one, most of the products were geared towards women. I just felt that black men were really poorly served. When I go to a large supermarket for my weekly shop and see hair marks on the shelves, I should be able to find something suitable for my hair texture as well.
In the brand’s most popular markets around the world:
“The UK is our number one country in terms of sales, and the second is the United States. Almost half of our Instagram followers are from the United States. I have also found that the problem of being underserved that many black men face in the UK [was also the experience of] a lot in other parts of EU as well, so we have a lot of customers from countries like Germany and France. They say the same thing: there is nothing formulated for their hair types.
On her biggest grooming tip:
“When it comes to any hair care, it’s important to know that there are two sides to the coin: the inside and the outside. The inside is all about making sure you eat and sleep well and avoid as much stress as possible by keeping those cortisol levels low. With the external, it is important to remember that it’s all about consistency and routine. I always compare grooming to the gym. If you go to workout on Monday, you won’t get real results on Tuesday. Training is something you need to do continuously, and if you stick to a routine and stay consistent you will see results. It’s the same with hair care.
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