Hair History: Angela Guy of Softsheen Carson

When you consider the rich history of hair and beauty products targeted to people of color, there’s one name that has remained consistently, unwaveringly popular for a decade now — and some of their brands have been known and loved for a century.¬†SoftSheen Carson.

The company began in a basement on the southside of my new hometown of Chicago. And today, SoftSheen Carson is owned by L’Oreal, and includes 18 brands, all dedicated to the beautification of black hair and skin.

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Angela Guy, general manager of SoftSheen Carson and she offered some amazing insight on the evolution of this venerable company, that has always been dedicated to products made for us, by us.

On Chicago’s influence in the company:

“Chicago is an amazing place for us, our main product testing facility is still based there. And I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world solely focused on developing products for people of color…and it’s right there in Chicago, on Wabash just off of I-55…We spend a lot of time in the community.”

On the most popular SoftSheen Carson brands:

“Dark and Lovely is our biggest brand and has the biggest brand awareness of any African American haircare products in the world. There’s Dark and Lovely, and then there’s Magic Shave which is almost 108 years old and remains extremely popular.

Our focus is always the same what can we do from a technological standpoint to enhance our consumers’ hair and beauty? We talk one on one with our consumers to find out what they need.

And we’ve evolved over the years to meet a variety of need, whether you wear your hair natural or colored or relaxed, or you want to cover your greys, or you need products to help hold a style.”

On SoftSheen Carson’s new products for natural hair:

“Most of our products work for both relaxed and natural hair, but our new line Roots of Nature is truly dedicated to the needs of the natural hair. Those with natural hair tend to gravitate towards natural ingredients, like green tea and shea butter.

Together with SoftSheen Carson’s technology, we’ve made a natural cocktail to help hair grow longer and stronger. We introduced four products last year, and this year we’ve developed two a shampoo, and a thickening cream to help with those thin spots.

Alot of people think natural hair means less work. But of course you know that isn’t true! And last year we introduced Dark and Lovely Confidence, which is a no ammonia hair color that includes three times the conditioner.”

On why SoftSheen Carson’s color is the best for us:

“Not all hair color is created equally. We specifically design hair color with our texture of hair in mind it moisturizes while doing its job.”

On the future of black hair:

“I see the future being about being able to celebrate your individuality. Everything is OK! Relaxing is a choice many women make because it’s right for them. So for those who choose to relax, we want to make sure the hair is healthy and the process is painless.

For those who are interested in being natural, it’s a process as well, and a matter of making the right choices in terms of products. We want to make sure we continue to innovate. Our job is to stay on top of trends.”

On products for the fellas:

“Regarding styling, we’ve got Let’s Jam, the most popular conditioning gel on the market. And there’s Magic Shave, which now has shea butter to make for a smoother shave. The whole idea is, we’ve developed products whether you’re natural, relaxed, or even bald!”

On obstacles in the future for black owned hair care companies:

“I have an interesting point of view on that. To me, it’s about the brands. While the brand may transfer hands, the key is to make sure the products remain available to the consumers who need them most.

We’re keeping brands alive that are known and trusted. The reality is, the economy today has created situations that so many of us may not have expected. The business exists because of US, and the products are for US.”

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