A surprising acquisition amid recent TikTok drama, has long-time Mielle Organics enthusiasts concerned about the integrity of the products in the future.

What the Mielle Oil Controversy and Joining P&G Beauty Really Means for the Natural Hair Movement

Late December, Alix Earle included Mielle’s best-selling Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil in a video roundup claiming she saw “tremendous hair growth” in just a month. Then on January 11, Mielle Organics announced it will be joining P&G Beauty, the company behind Pantene, Always, Crest and many other well-known brands. Between the TikTok drama and acquisition news, many fans of the hair brand have voiced concerns of changing formulation, increased prices, or textured hair no longer being centered in the marketing. But are these concerns all a result of the viral video and Amazon price-gauging, or are these anxieties emblematic of something deeper happening in the Black hair market?

The Mielle Oil TikTok Controversy

Let’s start with the fact that this hair oil isn’t new. The $10 oil won the NaturallyCurly Best of the Best Hair Growth Product Award in three categories in 2021 (for Type 3, Type 4, and All Hair Types”>, and community members have reported it being difficult to find even before Alix Earle’s Amazon list (it also went viral on TikTok last year after several Black women showed their rapid hair growth”>. The oil launched in 2018 after Monique Rodriguez, co- founder and CEO of Mielle Organics, noticed there was a gap in the market: a product that stimulated growth for women with textured hair.

Now onto the controversy…

Products created for textured hair, especially products that work for your specific hair porosity and goals, have always been limited and difficult to find, unlike products for straighter textures. This is compounded by the fact that funding and support for Black-owned Businesses is highly disproportionate to their white-counterparts (Black women receive less than 0.35 percent of all VC funding“>. For many long-time fans of Mielle Organics, seeing white women talk about this “hair growth hack” on TikTok feels like the colonization of the “ethnic” hair aisle. Like all Mielle Organics products, the oil description outlines that they are products for Black hair: “Use it on protective styles, including braids and weaves.”

The viral GRWM video with over 5 million views now, sparked a larger conversation on Black products and gatekeeping, particularly Black-owned hair brands and products tailored to Black hair. Though not a new conversation, the combination of mega influencers (Earle has more than 3 million followers”>, viral TikTok products, and the ease to which consumers can buy these recommended products, has led to products selling out within minutes. And while this new age digital phenomena is not exclusive to white influencers sharing beloved natural hair products, the dynamics are worthy of taking a closer look at.

Perspective 1:

@hoodocomedy #stitch with @kellyannestone #greenscreen mielle controversy #fyp #funny #funnyvideos #blacktiktok #mielleorganics ♬ original sound – hoodo

Perspective 2:

@kita.io #stitch with @ronelle__ ♬ original sound – Kita iO

Perspective 3:

@lenabeanchats Not too much on my makeup routine, I do the same thing everyday? #mielleorganics #miellehairoil #rosemaryoil #alixearle #miellerosemarymintoil #smallbusiness ♬ original sound – Olena

Whatever your opinion on the matter, what’s clear is that Mielle Organics, now a part of P&G, has a new opportunity to reach a wider market and will now need to find ways to meet the increased demand of their product.

Mielle Organics Joining P&G

On January 2 Monique Rodriguez put out a statement that there were no plans to change the Rosemary Mint & Oil formula. The news that Mielle would become a part of P&G came just over a week later.

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A post shared by Mielle Organics LLC (@mielleorganics”>

While product reformulation isn’t unheard of after an acquisition, (looking at you Shea Moisture and Unilever”>, that doesn’t appear to be the plan here.

“This partnership gives Mielle an opportunity to serve more textured hair consumers with the great products and formulas that our community loves.” – Monique Rodriguez, co-founder and CEO in the January 11 press release.

The release also indicates that Mielle Organics will still be led by founders Moniquee and Melvin Rodriguez who serve as the brands CEO and COO.

In a more personal message on Instagram to the OG Mielle Organics fans, whom Monique calls “Mavens and Mavericks,” Monique shared “This is a historic move for black women founders, and I want to continue to keep inspiring and showing the way. I will continue leading the vision forward with Mielle and better serving our customers. Please listen to this message in its entirety!! This is my heartfelt letter to my mavens and mavericks. I love all of you and will never turn my back on you.. this is just the beginning only up from here!! Queen of Hair ???”

For many in the natural hair community, watching a favorite Black-owned brand merge with a larger company is an emotional experience. “Please make sure they don’t change your product!” was the sentiment from many black consumers on Instagram. “I’m happy for you and please don’t let them change the formula. It has happened to every single black hair care line you’re one of the last product lines that work for my hair” one comment read. Brand enthusiasts under Moniques Instagram video expressed this uncertainty in the comment section, but Monique has continued to affirm that Mielle’s formulas will not change.

Gatekeeping Black Products

So, should the natural hair community start gatekeeping products? Or is this newfound virality of textured hair products and styling a win for the Natural hair market and industry? It might be too early to tell. In 2017, SheaMoisture notably fell out of favor with many Black consumers after a brand campaign that failed to feature any women with 4C hair. The brand faced further critique from their original black fan base for changing the formulas to suit straighter hair textures.

While I, and even the most spirited vloggers on TikTok don’t have a concrete answer, it’s important to consider that Mielle Organics, and the rosemary mint scalp and hair strengthening oil is a product meant for black and textured hair. It is a product that black women have used and can count on to work for them, when most aisles are filled with products that won’t. The oil, meant to be used on your scalp, is infused with more than 30 essential oils including biotin and castor oil, vitamins known to help prevent hair loss — and are especially popular ingredients in the natural hair community to protect hair from breakage and while using protective styles like braids and weaves. Styles that non-black communities are not acquainted with.

And while the TikTok jokes about gatekeeping black products by saying the Mielle oil made them bald have merit, the main issue is a systemic one. There shouldn’t be a lack of investment in Black women. Black hairfluencers should be receiving as much attention and brand deals as other influencers. And most of all, credit needs to be given to black people for trends like oiling your scalp, braided tendrils, and the “clean girl look.” Do your research before you come to TikTok bragging about a new trend or product that black people found or created first, and then you can try and promote products in a more respectful way.

Lastly, while the oil can be used by various hair types and/or races, hair specialists always recommend finding and using products that work for your personal porosity level, your hair health, your density and width, and your texture type. We recommend researching the products and ingredients and testing what works on your hair, rather than blindly buying products recommended by people on social media who have a different hair type to you.

What’s your take, is Mielle for everyone?

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