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SheaMoisture’s campaign lit up social media during the BET Awards

We see you, SheaMoisture: ‘Why is our beauty not reflected in the beauty aisle?’

Should the beauty industry fully serve all women? Should stores become more inclusive in their availability of products and product placement? Are retailers as diverse as they could be?

All these questions are certainly debatable. Beauty for many black and natural hair consumers has been viewed as “separate but not equal” for quite some time now. Some can even argue that it’s gotten better, but retailers still have a long way to go.

Right now, when walking into a local drugstore or superstore, there is a division between the beauty aisle and ethnic hair product section. The ethnic section is often on a different aisle from beauty. Many “ethnic” hair consumers still have to frequent local beauty-supply stores to purchase products for their hair. The issue has become a growing concern.

So in April, the natural beauty brand SheaMoisture launched a campaign to address the issue and announce that its products can now be found in the beauty aisle of participating retailers. While the #BreakTheWalls campaign has been out for a little more than two months, viewers were able to catch a glimpse of a 60-second short film as part of the campaign during Sunday’s BET Awards.

The film aired nearly two hours into the awards show, right after former boxer Laila Ali honored her late father, boxing great Muhammad Ali, and right before singer Maxwell hit the stage to perform his song, Lake By The Ocean, and the late artist Prince’s classic track, Nothing Compares 2 U.

The social media world immediately reacted to the film.

SheaMoisture’s #BreakTheWalls campaign answers the question for everyday women: “Why is our beauty not reflected in the beauty aisle?” SheaMoisture’s call to “break the walls” is the first of its kind in the beauty industry, but has been highly noted since it started. #BreakTheWalls’ focus is ensuring that all consumers, especially those who have been traditionally underserved, have an enhanced product and shopping experience based on being served according to their needs, not traditional segmentation.

The campaign is SheaMoisture’s first national awareness platform. According to the company’s website, the campaign is “a transformative and revolutionary multimedia effort to highlight the divisive constructs of beauty and move toward the inclusive shopping experience that all women deserve.”

“I have often said over the last 20 years that the beauty aisle is the last place in America where segregation is still legal, and separating ‘beauty’ from ‘ethnic’ has only served to further perpetuate narrow standards of what is considered beautiful in our industry and our society — which is why we began leading the efforts to break down those walls,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder and chief executive officer of Sundial Brands, the company that manufactures SheaMoisture.

“This movement is about so much more than selling shampoo, or lotion, or cosmetics. We’re advancing a mission and vision to change the social dialogue about how we’re looking at beauty as a society and how those archaic structures and views are debilitating to the establishment of new and more inclusive ways of viewing beauty — whether in the images we see or in the aisles that divide,” Dennis added.

To help kick off the campaign, the beauty brand issued an open casting call for the film on its social media channels. Their community members, referred to as SheaFam, shared their personal hair stories and journeys to self-love and empowerment. The brand also enlisted the help of influential beauty video bloggers Naptural85, SunKissAlba and MahoganyCurls, who shared their own powerful and inspirational stories in the film.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.