Mane ‘n Tail: a symptom of a problem

Living with roommates from different cultures is sometimes great, sometimes challenging and sometimes, you accidentally use horse shampoo…

“That’s horse shampoo” she laughed as I told her I’d borrowed some shampoo that was in the shower. She… had horses. I was shocked and laughed it off. Life happens.

An unusual happenstance that makes a good story right? That’s what I thought, but since the product has become a mild obsession and curiosity for me. So offensive I hardly believe it’s real.

Let’s get to it.

Black Hair is a big deal. A huge topic I’ve avoiding addressing in full because it’s A LOT. But, one particular thing of note is that grocery/chain stores often have a hair care section. A subsection of it is set aside for Black hair. Don’t believe me? Check your store. It’s normally found in a narrow strip near the end of an aisle, and suddenly the faces on the boxes turn from white and blond, with occasional lighter Black woman, to deep shades of brown.

And sometimes, it’s covered in alarms! Unlike everything else in the aisle. Example A Example B Example C

And if you can’t find one… check the demographics of that area. I’d bet money that you aren’t in a very diverse part of town. If you NEVER see it, my friend you are living in a bubble.

So, Back to This Section of Aisle.

It’s only about a foot or two wide, and a few shelves tall and offers all the tools (at a low quality) for Black hair care. The products your grandma uses, your teen cousins, the ones you grew up with, and the ones you use today are all accounted for. Today you may even find some more expensive, organic, brands marketed towards that, very under served ,mixed and curly white girl hair market here. Before I had my car I often got some of my supplies from this section unless I could wrangle a friend to go with me to the nearest sally beauty.

I looked over the options, in a particuarly white part of a city, and found the section. In the mix, between the wave caps, PINK lotion, and edge control, was an unassuming white bottle with blue horses.

“No.” I whispered to myself. Flashing back to my roommate laughing at me. Flush with rage, I left the store. Assuming I just wouldn’t go to that store again and clearly this was abnormal.

I Was Wrong.

I’ve seen it, over the past year in: the poorest dollar stores in the middle of AL, to suburbs of Boston, stores with mostly Black clientele, stores in the white area with the smallest sections, always in the Black section.

The white faces across the aisle staring, happily back at me. Boxes upon boxes of products that weren’t designed for me and yet, in my limited section was horse shampoo. again.

I ranted to a friend about the absurdity and she mentioned that some of her Black friends liked the product.

Not only was it horse shampoo and people used it, but worse of all, they actually thought it was good! I didn’t remember it being particularly better than anything else, and so, I took to the internet. Maybe it was less racist and more misguided.

It’s Worse.

The product is named Mane and Tail, and is horse shampoo.They now have a whole line of products for horses and for humans. Their story goes that some horse owners started using it on their own hair and so they started selling it in stores. I suspended belief that well-off white women were the ones who started this trend, and went to read some of the testimonials….

I have no idea if these are real but I don’t know it seems odd that this brand is being celebrated by so many people with “kinky” “nappy” “horse” hair, knowing good and well it’s a product for animals. Some of the ingredients in the products are controversial and some are generally known to not be very great like sulfates. Either way, something about this feels weird to me.

With so much there being so much difficulty finding products for our bodies and professionals who knew about them it seems in bad taste if nothing else.

Buy your products from Black business owners with your best interest at heart. or at least, really think about what you buy.

If you are a white reader, I’d love for you to see if you can find the Black product section and if you see this product there and send me an email at [email protected] or add message me on facebook.

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