The 5 best hair care products available, according to this beauty influencer with a disability
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When it comes to inclusivity and representation, the beauty industry has seen incredible progress (see: Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and its 40 shades of foundation or Deepica Mutyala’s Live Tinted and its multi-use, friendly-for-all-skin-tone Huesticks in 2017) across cosmetics, hair care and skin care. Despite how frustrating (and painfully slow) change can be, the industry is actually moving in a direction that is more inclusive of different skin tones, hair textures, genders, ages, ethics and budgets. But weak spots still exist to a large extent in beauty, especially when it comes to disability representation.
Shelby Lynch, a 25-year-old model, influencer and disability activist based in the UK, experiences this on a daily basis, especially when it comes to hair. “As a disabled POC, I find it very difficult [create] different styles with my natural hair because I’m not able to do it myself,” she tells Refinery29. Lynch was born with spinal muscular atrophy type 2, a neuromuscular disorder that causes muscle weakness and breathing problems. (Lynch uses a ventilator and an electric wheelchair.)
“There is a stigma [in beauty] about disabled people – for example, we don’t care about looking beautiful or attractive – when in reality this is far from the truth,” she says. “Handicap likes to look after their appearance too and it would be so much easier to pack [and products] were more accessible.” Right now, Lynch chooses to wear her hair in braids for convenience, taking them out to wash her hair with a coconut-scented moisturizing shampoo and conditioner when needed.
In addition to accessible packaging and products, disability representation in marketing (namely beauty campaigns) is also key, Lynch says. “[It’s not about] just including ‘token disabled’ – we also need disabled people in all intersectionality. So if there’s a hair care ad on TV, it would be great to see a disabled POC who is bisexual as an example.” And that’s exactly Lynch’s goal as a beauty and fashion influencer who has nearly half a million followers on TikTok and nearly 40,000 on Instagram. “I hope to represent those who don’t feel represented.”
With support from Ulta Beauty, Lynch curated a list of her favorite haircare products available, from ergonomic brushes and quick-heat styling tools to travel-sized shampoos and conditioners that get the job done without exhausting her muscles. See (and shop) her favorite hair choices below.
This article originally appeared on refinery29.com
#1 A hair wave that heats up in less than a minute
Curling your hair can feel laborious and physically taxing, especially when muscles are weak and mobility is limited. So Lynch opts for a styling tool that will heat up—and get the job done—rather quickly, like this three-barrel ceramic waver from Bed Head. “This curls your hair super fast,” she says, “which is great for those who want to use less energy.” In addition to reaching up to 410 degrees in 30 seconds, this tool has a cool tip for easy handling and works by pinching sections of hair for a few seconds.
Bed Head Wave Affair Jumbo 3 Barrel Ceramic Hair Waver, $54.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
#2 A smartly designed (and multitasking) scalp exfoliator
Lynch points to this brush (which doubles as a scalp exfoliator) as a go-to tool for quick, painless detangling and smoothing. “Tangle Teezers are very small and lightweight, which means you’re able to quickly brush through the hair without experiencing muscle or bone soreness or pain,” she says. The innovative winged design works for all hand sizes and doesn’t slip, while the long and short bristles stimulate the scalp and seamlessly (and painlessly) brush through wet or dry strands in a single stroke.
Tangle Teezer The Scalp Exfoliator & Massager, $10.00, available at Ulta Beauty.
#3 A set of light shower accessories
To avoid draining energy and tiring her muscles, Lynch loves the Patterns On-the-Go Kit, which includes three cult favorites from Tracee Ellis Ross’ three-year-old hair care line. The Hydration Shampoo, Heavy Conditioner and Leave-In Conditioner (all formulated to work specifically for curly textures) weigh just three fluid ounces each. “They’re pretty small, so if you don’t have a lot of strength in your hands or you’re feeling weak that day, these bottles aren’t heavy,” says Lynch. What’s more, “Leave-In Conditioner allows you to use less energy since you don’t have to wash it out.”
Pattern On-the-Go Kit, $24.00, available at Ulta Beauty.
#4 A shampoo brush you won’t lose
While Lynch likes the Tangle Teezer for detangling strands, she calls this handy shampoo-massage brush for extra deep (and extra soothing) cleansing in the shower. The best part? “You can attach the strap to your wrist [while using it], so you let it go. It makes life so much easier,” she states. The soft silicone teeth, which remove build-up and penetrate the scalp for a deep clean, are gentle enough to use every day – with ours without your favorite shampoo.
Diane Black Shampoo Massage Brush, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
#5 A straightener that is small yet mighty
Instead of a straightener that feels heavy, unwieldy and difficult to use, Lynch calls the mini version of the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium straightener. “Because it’s a travel-sized straightener, it’s much easier to get a better grip—and it feels a lot lighter,” she says. At half an inch wide, this tool is slimmer and more portable than other options out there, but it doesn’t skimp on functionality, quickly heating up to 430 degrees.
BaBylissPRO Mini Straightening Iron with Travel Pouch, $34.99, available at Ulta Beauty.