At a time when “effortlessness” is trending in the world of beauty, Black women and naturals with tight curls and highly textured hair tend to fall through the cracks. Messy top-knots and last-minute hairstyles are in--but only if you have the right kind of curls. And if not, the pressure to exhibit perfectly glossy ringlets and sleek edges is high.
Maeva Heim, founder of BREAD and a 4C natural, intends to change that. Simplicity and effortlessness is the name of the game with BREAD, a clean hair care line designed for 3A to 4C hair types. From offering just three simple wash-day products with un-complicated instructions, to the brand’s snappy tagline: “Essential. Mostly Natural. And smells good. Like bread. Get it?”
In addition to creating a space for a “lazy-girl” aesthetic in the beauty industry with regard to tight curls and afros, BREAD is aiming to give naturals the option to do less on wash-day. And yes--while washing, moisturizing, detangling, and manipulating tightly packed curls and coils, “less” is probably the absolute last word that comes to mind. Styling products focused on achieving maximum definition and sleekness have long dominated the natural hair market, encouraging picture-perfect curls and preserving the impractical idea that those with extremely coily and undefined textures should aspire to conquer frizz. Not only because it’s coveted, but because it’s synonymous with a Eurocentric idea of acceptability. For this reason, BREAD takes an active role in excluding disparaging language like “anti-frizz” from the brand. “The overall mission of BREAD is to create a more diverse beauty industry, specifically for women of color,” Heim says.
For her, Black hair care and entrepreneurialism are both familiar and nostalgic ideas. Growing up in 90’s Perth, Australia, Heim spent most weekends working at her mother’s African hair-braiding salon-- “one of the only braiding salons in the country at the time,” she notes. “I would help my mom in the salon as a young person. Sweeping, braiding, and managing the books. I learned about different hair products and we would also import products from the United States.”
The official journey to create BREAD began just a few years ago in the midst of her transition to natural hair, after her relaxer exploded in her suitcase while traveling. “I couldn’t find any brands that I could relate to. There were so many different types of products, but they didn’t provide guidance or prioritize time-efficiency--I just wanted to know how to wash my hair,” Heim expressed. “...I became disillusioned with what was available on the market, and frustrated with the lack of simplicity.” Having garnered brand management experience and falling in love with beauty brand marketing while working at L'Oréal, Heim realized that the vast majority of “simple” and “easy-to-use” hair products were never speaking to the modern consumer with textured hair.
Un-complicating Wash Day
To challenge the notion that textured hair care has to eat up hours of precious time and demands tedious amounts of work, BREAD un-complicates the routine by focusing on product routine kits--starting with wash-day.
Image: Courtesy of brand.
The full wash-day kit ($58) contains all the essential items that you’ll need for a successful wash-day and nothing more, including: the Hair-Wash, Hair-Mask, Hair-Oil, and a cute BREAD-puff satin scrunchie.
To kick things off, I started with the Hair-Wash ($20), packaged in a trendy pouch with a photo of a beautiful Black woman, an intentional branding decision by Heim. After cracking open the seal, the first thing I noticed was the sweet scent of the product, which smelled accurately of Froot Loop-milk--a nostalgic nod to Heim’s childhood and a treat for all Millennials and Gen-Z’ers. Taking inspiration from milky skin cleansers, the wash feels light and soft in texture, like a “liquid marshmallow.” While applying it to my scalp and Type 4 hair, I noticed that it went on smoothly without creating that uncomfortable stripped and rough feeling between my hair and hands. My hair maintained a clean, but soft and moisturized texture throughout the whole process, even after rinsing. This “shampoo-meets-co-wash” is formulated with dry hair in mind, with loads of vitamin E for softness, aloe vera juice for hydration, and lemon tea tree oil to soothe irritated scalps.
Step 2 in the process was deep conditioning--my favorite step. The Hair-Mask ($28) has a light, sweet marshmallow scent and a pillowy texture--and is Heim’s personal favorite product of the bunch. “People are raving about the hair wash, but, for me--it’s the mask.” Whereas most deep conditioners marketed toward highly textured hair are inherently heavy, this one is only a bit thicker than than the cleanser, but is still surprisingly effective. After applying it to wet hair, I noticed my hair was pliable and soft enough to detangle at around the eight-minute mark . Using my detangling brush, I was able to glide through my hair without very few knots. In fact, the longer I left the mask in, I realized that I didn’t want to rinse it out. Pro-tip: you can actually use the mask as a leave-in, too. According to Heim, “All products are meant to be multi-purpose.” So for naturals who crave that extra hydration that only deep conditioners can provide, you can keep this one in as long as you want. The star of this ingredient list is undoubtedly the Australian Kakadu plum, an Australian super-fruit that maintains collagen and elastin levels in your hair to keep it soft; and it contains higher levels of vitamin C than any other fruit. Another powerhouse ingredient is starflower oil, which strengthens the hair follicle to prevent breakage and shedding.
Image: Courtesy of brand.
Lastly, I applied the Hair-Oil ($24) to my sectioned still-wet hair from root to tip, focusing a lot of my attention on the ends. Like the brand name suggests, it almost smells good enough to eat (though I would vehemently recommend against that). This product, like the other two, smelled amazing--probably my favorite scent of them all. Along with the mask, it’s a new staple for me. A lightly sweet and fresh scent that I only guess can be attributed to the Australian Kakadu plum. Similarly to the mask, this oil is extremely lightweight. As someone whose oil of choice is usually Jamaican black castor oil, I was a bit shocked to experience how well this actually works with my hair. It was a light, but well-hydrated feeling, and I even had some definition to my hair. The oil is made to fit in just about anywhere in your routine, whether you want to use it after the mask on wash-day, or daily in-between washes. Formulated with safflower oil for shine, Heim says the oil is intended to be like a “lip gloss for your hair.” All packaged in an aesthetically pleasing and distinguishable glass bottle.
All in all, this whole wash-day routine was a holistically enjoyable experience, from the scents to the textures. It left my hair feeling soft and moisturized and is the perfect base for more styling products, or to wear as-is.
As far as styling goes, Heim usually keeps things as simple as possible with her hair. “I usually do some braids with the oil, very casual, and it will last me the whole week. I prefer not to use a styling cream because I get product build-up so easily, but they can be used with other styling products.” As a self-proclaimed “lazy natural” I felt inspired enough to attempt to style my hair in a signature lazy high puff using no products other than the oil; and I was pleasantly surprised to experience how good it felt to moisturize my hair without weighing it down with creams and moisturizing products after washing. I didn’t have nearly the same amount of definition, but my hair felt pliable, still soft, and smelled delicious the next day. And I appreciated the time it saved. If you’re a natural who’s all about the essentials and you don’t mind a little frizz, you and your hair are in for a treat.
In 2019, Heim was selected as one of the first Australian participants in the Sephora Accelerate Program and secured BREAD’s launch both online and in-store. You can purchase the Wash Day Kit, or the individual Hair-Wash, Hair-Mask, and Hair-Oil online on the BREAD website or from Sephora. If you’re constantly on the go, check out the Snac-Pack ($24) for mini versions of the wash-day products in a convenient cosmetic purse.
Keep an eye out for BREAD products on the shelves of select Sephora stores beginning August 28th.