Loose waves, thick corkscrew spirals, mixed race curls or tight Afro coils, whatever the level of curls in your hair Manchester based Nadine Harding has developed natural hair products to nourish curly manes. Here she tells Flavour why she ditched the perm and how she produces her handmade hair care range – Curl Harmony.
How long did it take you to develop a complete line of hair care products and what was the process of testing them out as well as being able to sell them once you were ready to open your business?
I scoured the internet looking for people going through the same experience I was. I learnt a great deal about the structure of hair and natural ingredients. The biggest realisation of all was learning that afro-hair was a type of curly hair which I had never known before. From conception to opening the business took 7 months. During that time, I experimented with different natural ingredients, giving hand samples to friends and family, and the feedback was great. I was keen for developing a range of hair for the whole curly spectrum from wavy hair to afro-hair.
Was this what inspired you to pursue a Masters in Chemistry?
Having a background in Chemistry certainly helped in developing the range and understanding how ingredients work and the components needed to make a finished product, and most importantly, making products that work.
What are some of the harmful ingredients that are usually found in average hair-care products?
The worst culprit of all is mineral oil (found in many American imports marketed for afro-hair). It coats the hair shaft preventing water from getting to the hair, which leads to hair becoming hard and brittle. It can also clog pores on the scalp inhibiting hair growth. Secondly, avoid sulphates, which are found in shampoos. These harsh detergents strip the hair of it natural oils and as afro-hair is already the driest hair type around. In shampoos, avoid sodium lauryl (laureth) sulphate and in conditioners/styling products avoid mineral oil, parrafin liquidium and petrolatum.
How long did you use a relaxer to straighten your hair and what prompted you to stop using them?
I started relaxing my hair when I was about 16–what most black girls do around that age. I continued to use relaxers for about 10 years. I’d often get chemical burn from the relaxers, and after one experience (using a so-called natural relaxer), my scalp was burnt so badly that I was weeping for a week. I asked myself, “why am I doing this?” When I couldn’t answer myself I knew I had to stop. I’ve recently cut off my relaxed ends after growing my hair out for 11 months and for the first time in my life I appreciate my natural hair, and it feels good!
How rewarding/difficult have you found it being a Black British woman entrepreneur in the marketplace?
Running your own business is very rewarding despite the hard work. I get a lot of satisfaction from making up my products by hand and from the positive feedback I’m getting. There’s nothing like being able to have complete control over your working day.
Will subscribers of Flavour Magazine be able to benefit from any special promotions?
Readers who quote ‘Flavour’ at checkout will receive 10% off their order.
Words by Ahmed Sirour