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We spoke with Vanessa Martins Lopes, Co-Founder of The Wild Curl, about her range of vegan hair care products – specifically made for curly hair types! Lopes explains how the hair care industry has historically favoured straight hair, how this has held many ‘curly girls’ back in achieving their hair’s full potential, how her products are tailored to suit different curly hair types and more. Keep reading to find out all about The Wild Curl!
You talk on your website about how growing up, average hair care products didn’t work on your hair - do you think that mainstream products are still made mostly for fine, straight hair? What changes have you seen in the haircare world since you were young?
Yes, just by glancing the hair care aisle in the supermarket shows that the majority of the products are still made mostly for fine, straight hair, even when 65-70% of the women in the world have textured hair.
For decades now, society has been pushing straight hair as the ideal beauty standard, leaving curls underrepresented and neglected by the big players. This unequal treatment is hindering the development of the curly hair care industry, all the way from research, product development to education. Still today, the structure and behaviour of curly hair is not as well studied as straight hair.
However, driven by the natural hair movement and growing awareness of clean hair care, consumers are now embracing their natural hair texture more than ever. Natural is the new normal! More importantly, the feeling of freedom, self-expression and individuality is now encouraged by society. Curly consumers are ready to reject narrow beauty standards, and express themselves as they want. Even so, the issue is not just about the lack of curly products, it is also about the lack of diverse products. Considering the diversity of today, not all curls are the same. We, curly consumers, expect from brands the right product for our hair type. This is still not properly supported by the big companies.
Although, I do feel like more and more brands are answering to the growing demand for natural products in hair care. A healthy lifestyle has become one of the primary concerns for individuals, and this includes now hair care too. Consumers are skewing away from synthetic ingredients and harsh chemicals and are leaning more towards natural ingredients.
What are some common problems caused by using the wrong kinds of products on curly or wavy hair?
Using the wrong kind of products for your hair type can make your curls look dull and even damage your hair and scalp with long-term usage.
There are three different hair type categories for textured hair, type 2 for wavy, type 3 for curly and type 4 for kinky, and each of them has their characteristic look. However, this is only about appearance. To get the best out of your curls, you also need to know your hair density, thickness, porosity and scalp condition. For example, if you have very curly hair but your hair is very fine, you should lean more towards products that contain only lightweight ingredients instead of heavy creams and butters. Otherwise, you might end up weighing your curls down with too heavy products.
Also, knowing your scalp condition is the key for healthy hair as that is the only place where the actual hair growth happens. If you have a very oily scalp you should not use only conditioner wash that is usually recommended for dry and super curly hair, otherwise, you may start building product residue and dirt on your scalp blocking pores. In the long run, this might lead even to hair loss, thinning and various scalp conditions. Because of this, it is very crucial to know your hair structure. This helps you to find the ideal products for your hair. I also believe that this is something companies should take responsibility. Educating your customers to make the best choices for their curls is important.
If you had to pick one product from The Wild Curl’s range that every ‘curly girl’ just has to have, what would you choose and why?
I would choose one of our daily hair oils, Wavy, Curly or Kinky, based on your hair type (I use Wavy Hair Oil for a lighter touch and Curly Hair Oil for dry, thirsty days). Natural hair oils offer tons of hair and scalp benefits and including them to your daily hair care routine is a must for all curlies. Besides added moisture, hair oils stimulate hair growth, prevent hair loss, and they are amazing frizz controllers. Additionally, the ingredients have anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties that are known to help with skin conditions like psoriasis, alopecia areata, and eczema.
What has been the biggest challenge The Wild Curl has faced? What about your biggest accomplishment?
The biggest challenge has been running a business whilst still having a day job. And what goes to every start-up, there’s never enough time. There are a million and one decisions to be made and only 24 hours in a day (minus the 8 hours on our day job and allegedly some of the other hours should be spent sleeping). In May 2020 we made the most important decision of all the million decisions, me and our other co-founder Albert, quit our jobs to dedicate full time on The Wild Curl. Now we are very excited to start a new chapter in our startup life, fundraising.
The biggest achievements have been our ever-growing customer base with amazing customer reviews. Every life we change brings us closer to achieving our goal. We have customers who have managed to get their curls back after years of straightening, customers who have found the perfect remedy to fight against hair loss and thinning or mums who found the perfect hair oil to keep their child’s curls beautiful and healthy. This makes me always happy. We are making a difference in people’s lives.
What values are most important to you when manufacturing your hair care products, and how do these values guide your choices as a business?
We have two core values that guide our every step to create the best curly hair products. First, comprehensive research and innovation. The ingredients used must be tested to work on textured hair. We also take into account the diversity of curly hair types, thus making always unique and tailor-made products. Second, we put sustainability at the heart of our company. We are continuously working on researching more sustainable ingredients and eco-friendly packaging.
How has the pandemic affected The Wild Curl? What are your plans going forward to adapt to this “new normal”?
The pandemic has impacted the lives and well-being of many of us and it is causing a lot of fear, uncertainty and anxiety across the globe. We believe that it is very important to maintain good mental health and patience during these challenging times. Our priority remains our customer’s and team’s well-being and thus we have taken precautionary measures in our production and fulfilment, following the government guidelines. Also, The Wild Curl is here to support self-care - you need to look after yourself first, to be there for other people. To lighten the day-to-day life of our customers’, we provide hair care tips, readings and mood lightning stories on our newsletter and social media.
Whilst the pandemic reshapes the world, more consumers have begun shopping online in greater numbers and frequency. However, it is good to keep in mind the economic impact the pandemic is having to all of us. This can alter purchasing behaviours, including cutting back on spending.
It is very hard to predict the long-term impact of the Covid-19, but if anything else, we hope that more consumers, not just Gen Zs and Millennials, are now comfortable to shop online and discover new brands. Moreover, we can only hope that this “new normal” is just a transitioning phase to a “better normal” where the world is better equipped to face any future challenges ahead of us.