For Detroiter Rozlyn DeCharentenay, styling the red-haired locks of her 9-year-old daughter, Thais, can be daunting. It’s a matter of finding a product that can provide the right amount of oil without being overpowering.
“You don’t want to use grease because it’s too greasy,” DeCharentenay says. “You need something that provides moisture without being greasy.”
Thais is biracial, and for many others like her, she has hair texture that is often referred to by mixed-race individuals as “combination hair,” crosses between curly and straight as well as fine and coarse.
Two women from Los Angeles—Kim Etheredge, 34, and Wendi Levy, 36—have created Mixed Chicks, a leave-in conditioner aimed at women with hard-to-manage curly hair.
“I felt that the white products are a little drying, while the black products are very heavy with oil,” says Levy, whose mother is African American and father is Jewish. “If you mix the two (products), you have the perfect ratio.”
Having hair that is both curly and straight has been a challenge, says Etheredge, whose mom is white and dad is black.
“There are millions of Americans whose hair is like this,” she says. “We get a lot of white mothers are who are very happy with the product. Before they said they didn’t know what to do with their daughter’s or son’s hair.”
For Levy, a full-time teacher, looking for products for her curly blond hair was often a feat in itself.
“There was the regular aisle for white hair, and then there was the aisle for black hair-care products,” she says. “I would always have to blend products just to get them to work. (Mixed-race individuals) are the forgotten group.”