Looking good in lockdown: sharp spike in hair and beauty product sales

14 May 2020 - 06:30 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Lerato Sokhulu braided her hair since she cannot visit a salon during lockdown.
Lerato Sokhulu braided her hair since she cannot visit a salon during lockdown.
Image: Supplied

Being stuck indoors has created a higher demand for ethnic hair care and other beauty products as people have a lot of time to do their own hair.

Some are even braiding their own hair. Lerato Sokhulu got frustrated with her Afro hairdo during the lockdown and decided to spend six hours braiding it.

As hair and beauty salons remain closed under level 4 of the lockdown, this trend is set to continue.

“Well, the frustration came from having to detangle my Afro every three days or so. Before corona, my hair was in braids most of the time. And as we enter winter, my hair gets annoyingly dry, so I turn to protective hairstyles to keep the dryness at bay,” said Sokhulu.

“So I pulled out an old bag of left-over extensions that I keep and decided to braid my hair. It took about six hours but that's because I made the blocks really big and I wasn't too concerned about the straight lines.”

She was impressed with how it came out, although the challenging part was making them look neat.

“I mean, they aren't as neat as when I get them done at the salon, but I feel like if I practise, I will never have to get them done at a salon ever again. And that would be great because they cost an arm and a leg,” she said.

“With that said, I have a newfound respect for hair braiders. My fingers were so sore after I finished!”

I have a newfound respect for hair braiders. My fingers were so sore after I finished!
Lerato Sokhulu

According to the Shoprite Checkers supermarket group, personal care sales have soared under the Covid-19 extended lockdown, indicating that South Africans are not letting the lockdown stop them from looking after themselves.

“There has been a sharp increase in demand for ethnic hair care, especially extensions, relaxers, conditioners and other treatments. Hair colour products have also gained significant popularity,” said the group.

“The increase is not only because salons are closed. Many people now have more time to do their hair at home and many hair care processes take a considerable amount of time.”

They suggested there could also be some evidence of the “lipstick effect”, where consumers tend to spend more on small indulgences during a time of economic stress.

Nicoletta Makuwa went from using rice water to treat her hair to braiding her hair during the lockdown.

“I saw a video about how rice water helps with hair growth and stops breakage, which has been a problem for me. I then tried it,” she said.

“I can’t go do braids at the salon, wigs are a no-go area during the lockdown and combing the Afro every day was becoming a task. So I started trying out different ways I could protect my hair. I tried 'Benny and Betty' hairstyle.”

Cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced two weeks ago that the hairdressing industry would not be opened during lockdown.

“Those kinds of services, the manicures and pedicures, the person is close and there’s no social distancing. It’s too risky, we can’t allow at this point. We have added products for beauty, hair and nails [to be sold],” she said.

Neli Mthethwa, the director of Linah Organics hair products, said business has been booming under lockdown. Their product is targeted at damaged hair or receding hairlines.

“It’s been very good. We’re at an advantage because it forces people to take care of their natural hair. People are not exposed to so many commercials forcing them to buy [into] hair aesthetics, so they are actually dealing with their hair more.” said Mthethwa.

Pick n Pay has seen an increased demand for hair colour products.  

“Customers seem to be experimenting with colour during lockdown, as many are buying various hair colour and hair nourishing kits to use at home. We have also seen a similar trend with our range of natural hair brands and products,” said the group.

“After-care maintenance products, treatments and relaxers are some of the best sellers in this category.”