Hair Discrimination: The Truth About The Afro Tax

Explore the impact of the “Afro Tax” on women with 4C hair, as revealed by All Things Hair’s survey on hair inequality among US women.

Photo by Good Faces on Unsplash

The hair experts at All Things Hair (a publication by Unilever) conducted a survey targeting US women of different ethnicities above the age of 16 to investigate hair inequality. The survey reveals that women of colour with 4C hair are being subjected to the Afro Tax: price discrimination, plus lack of availability and variety of hair care services and products.

It shows that African American women are spending more money in hair salons, visiting hair salons more regularly, and spending more time at hair salon appointments despite having to travel the furthest to find a hair salon that really caters to their hair type.

The survey also shows that women with 4C hair find it the most difficult to find products that suit their hair while women with straight hair find it the easiest.

Visiting the hair salon

The survey reveals that a quarter (24%) of American women don’t even go to hair salons, with Multi-racial & Bi-racial women being the least likely to go to hair salons:

The survey also shows that African American women go to hair salons the most frequently: 6% of Black women go to a hair salon once a week (double the consumer average). Adding to this, African American women have to travel the furthest to get to a hair salon that really caters to their hair type:

Afro Hair Tax Chart 2

Hair salon appointment lengths

The survey also reveals that African American women spend the most time at hair salon appointments while Caucasian women spend the least amount of time:

  • 18% of Black women spend more than 3 hours at hair salon appointments (triple the average of 6%)
  • Almost half (46%) of White women in the US spend less than 1 hour at hair salon appointments (higher than the average of 40%)
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Hair salon spending habits

The survey reveals that almost a quarter (24%) of US women spend more than $100 in hair salons. African American women spend the most money, with 36% spending more than $100 at salons.

Additionally, women with 4c hair spend the most money at hair salons while women with straight hair spend the least:

Afro Hair Tax Chart 3

Collectively, these figures show that African American women are spending more money in hair salons, visiting hair salons more regularly, and spending more time at hair salon appointments despite having to travel the furthest to find a hair salon that really caters to their hair type.

Nelly Ghansah, Natural Hair Editor at All Things Hair, comments:
“In a society where we have progressed so much, hair inequality remains a huge issue. Our goal is to shed light on the inequalities that black and brown women face in the haircare space and the many strides that are being made to combat this issue.”

Shopping for hair products

Overall, 20% of US women find it difficult to find products that suit their hair. This increases to 29% for Multiracial & Biracial women, followed closely by 28% for Black women.

Additionally, women with 4c hair find it the most difficult to find products that suit their hair while women with straight hair find it the easiest: 37% of women with coily hair say that it is difficult to find products that suit their hair compared to only 13% of women with straight hair.

Hair care costs

The survey shows that 7 in 10 (71%) American women spend less than 10% of their monthly budget on hair care while 1 in 10 (9%) spend more than 25% of their monthly budget.

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Looking at this in further detail, the survey shows that African American women spend the most on hair care each month while Caucasian women in the US spend the least:

Afro Hair Tax Chart 4
Afro Hair Tax Chart 5

Additionally, women with 4C hair in the US spend the most on hair care each month while women with straight hair in the US spend the least: 16% of women with coily hair spend more than 25% of their monthly budget on hair care compared to just 6% of women with straight hair.

The full report can be found at All Things Hair.

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