*High-quality, natural products aimed at ethnic consumers are in short supply in the mass market, according to Laila Ali, who says her new self-titled line of hair care, skin care and fragrances — produced in Miami Lakes by International Beauty Brands — is intended to fill that void.
Ali’s line includes purifying shampoo, hydrating shampoo, curl-defining gel, conditioners, hair relaxer, age-defying cream, tone equalizer and daily face wash. Retail prices range from $10 to $18 for the hair and skin products, with fragrances priced between $35 and $45.
The hair products lean heavily on conditioning properties to compensate for the fact that African-American hair tends to be coarser and more heavily processed from relaxers.
“A lot of the products that are out there have chemicals that are not good for us and the environment,” Ali tells the Miami Herald. “What’s important to me is creating something that actually is going to build and strengthen the hair. It’s about trying to balance being good for you and also giving consumers the results they want.”
Ali, the daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali and the former owner of her own nail salon, is proud of the fact that her products are sulfate-free, which means they won’t weaken hair or make color fade. The products also include herbal and organic ingredients such as olive oil, shea butter, Acai berry and jojoba oil.
The 21 products for men and women have been rolling off the assembly line in recent weeks at the Miami Lakes factory where they were created.
It takes no more than 20 seconds to fill, label and package a six ounce bottle of daily facial moisturizer. For the initial roll-out, International Beauty Brands has produced about 30,000 pieces of each item to fill orders from major retailers including Wal-Mart, CVS, Sears and Navarro Discount Pharmacies.
The Ali product line targets a vibrant market. The ethnic health and beauty care products industry rang up nearly $2.7 billion in sales in 2009, a 4 percent increase over the previous year, according to Packaged Facts — and is expected to reach $3.7 billion by 2014. That growth compares to decreases in 2009 in most beauty categories during 2009, estimated at a total of $50 billion plus in the U.S.
While consumers will find the Ali products in the ethnic section of the store, the hope is that the collection will also appeal to a wider variety of consumers. Nothing about the white and cranberry packaging speaks to an ethnic audience. The only reference is Ali’s own image, which is used in all of the marketing and promotion.
“It’s a crossover brand,” said Tony Eluck, president of International Beauty Brands, who uses the products himself. “Anybody can use it. It’s not got Vaseline or anything that is going to weigh down your hair.”
“This is the first ethnic, professional quality line,” Eluck said. “What exists today in the ethnic mass market is an insult to the black woman.”