Every year brings with it a new drama on TikTok, and this year is no different. The latest controversy is over hair oil, specifically Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint hair oil. TikTok influencer Alix Earle, who is known for her chaotic get-ready-with-me makeup tutorials, recently shared her top Amazon purchases for 2022, and Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint hair oil was on her list. In her video, she mentioned that she had only been using the product for a little over a month and had already seen tremendous hair growth. Almost immediately, Black women started commenting under the video, warning others not to buy it and to leave the Mielle hair oil alone. But why the drama? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Mielle’s Rosemary Hair Oil?
Mielle Rosemary hair oil is a product created by Monique Rodriguez, a woman of color, and is a blend of oils, including soybean, castor, and rosemary, as well as other ingredients like biotin, intended to stimulate hair growth and thickness. The oil is just one product in Rodriguez’s line Mielle Organics, which she founded in 2014 while she was transitioning from having heat-damaged hair to restoring her natural curls. Rodriguez realized that there was a gap in the market for a product that stimulated growth for women with textured hair. Like all Mielle Organics products, the description on the website outlines that they are products for Black hair and can be used on protective styles, including braids and weaves.
Why Are People Upset?
The $10 Mielle Rosemary hair oil went viral on TikTok last year after several Black women showed their rapid hair growth, and it started flying off shelves. Thanks to Earle, white women are now trying the oil for themselves. A number of Black women have responded by pointing out that the number of products made specifically for Black women is much more limited compared to what is available to white women. They question why white women would use a product that is not made for them when there are already limited options available for Black women. “The natural hair product section is so small; y’all have hundreds of products catered to your hair, and we have 10 that actually work,” one woman wrote.
Some Black TikTok creators have been posting negative reviews to deter white women from buying the product. However, some white women have shared that the product isn’t working for them because it’s weighing their hair down. The reason for this may be that the oil is made for women with a more coarse texture or curls that can retain a blend of oils.
Professor of Linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University, Uju Anya, wrote on Twitter that Black women have legitimate reasons for gatekeeping in this case. She pointed out that there is precedent for brands like Shea Moisture changing their formulation and raising their prices to accommodate white women. However, Mielle has stated on Instagram that they will remain committed to developing quality, efficacious products that address the needs of their customers’ hair types and have no intention of changing their formulation to accommodate a new demographic.
Other Black creators like @prettycrtical have said that as long as Black-owned businesses don’t forget about their demographic, it might not be bad for a company to be selling out and expanding. “Their end goal is to move product,” and supporting a Black-owned business is important for consumers as a whole.
Mielle Organics’ Response
Monique Rodriguez, the founder of Mielle Organics, commented on the rumors that the formula was going to change, saying, “As a woman of color, founder and creator of Mielle, I promise that we have no plans to change the formula of the Rosemary Mint Scalp and Hair Strengthening Oil. We pride ourselves on being a brand that solves problems for the needs of our consumers.” She also assured customers that the product is still in stock on the company’s website.
Mielle Organics has also addressed the concerns of some Black women feeling excluded from the beauty industry. The brand released a statement saying, “We understand the frustration surrounding the lack of inclusivity and representation in the beauty industry. At Mielle, we are committed to making quality hair care products that cater to the unique needs of all hair types, especially textured hair. We are also committed to empowering and uplifting Black women by creating opportunities for entrepreneurship and financial freedom.”
Is It Okay for White Women to Use Mielle’s Hair Oil?
The controversy surrounding Mielle’s hair oil raises an important question: is it okay for white women to use a product specifically marketed towards Black women? The answer is not a straightforward yes or no.
On one hand, it’s important for Black-owned businesses to be supported, especially in an industry where Black women have historically been excluded and underrepresented. By purchasing products from these businesses, consumers can help to promote diversity and inclusivity within the beauty industry.
On the other hand, it’s understandable why some Black women might feel frustrated when they see white women using products that were specifically created for their hair texture and needs. The beauty industry has a long history of catering primarily to white consumers, which has left Black women with a limited selection of products that work for their hair.
Ultimately, whether or not it’s okay for white women to use Mielle’s hair oil comes down to personal choice. However, it’s important for consumers to be mindful of the historical context and to support Black-owned businesses whenever possible.
Is Gatekeeping Necessary?
The Mielle hair oil controversy raises important questions about gatekeeping and whether it’s necessary in the beauty industry. On one hand, Black women have every right to be protective of the products and brands that were created for them and their specific hair care needs. It’s frustrating to see white women co-opting products that were not intended for them and potentially taking away from the limited options available to Black women.
On the other hand, it’s important to acknowledge that supporting Black-owned businesses and products is crucial for the community as a whole. It’s not fair to expect Black-owned businesses to only cater to Black consumers if they want to grow and expand. As long as they continue to prioritize their core demographic and create products that effectively address their needs, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for them to sell out and reach a wider audience.
What Can We Learn from This?
The Mielle hair oil controversy is just one example of a larger issue within the beauty industry. It highlights the lack of representation and inclusivity that still exists, particularly for Black women. It’s important for brands and retailers to prioritize diversity and inclusivity in their product offerings and marketing strategies.
Consumers also have a role to play in addressing these issues. It’s important to support Black-owned businesses and products, particularly when they are specifically created for the needs of the Black community. It’s also important to educate ourselves about the products we use and the companies we support. This means reading ingredient lists and researching the background of brands before making purchases.
In conclusion, the Mielle hair oil controversy is a reminder of the importance of inclusivity and representation in the beauty industry. While gatekeeping can be a sensitive topic, it’s important to acknowledge the legitimate concerns of Black women and support Black-owned businesses. By doing so, we can work towards a more equitable and inclusive beauty industry.