A Scientist’s Salons in Paris Cater to a Neglected Trait: Curly Hair

11:31 AM Aida Alami 0 Comments


When it came time to find a salon for her daughter with coiled hair, Aude Livoreil-Djampou discovered what many women with curly or textured hair in Paris already knew.

“I realized there was no hair salon where I could take my daughter,” Dr. Livoreil-Djampou said. “We live like certain people do not exist. People don’t like when I speak of hair apartheid, but it is what it is.”

The dearth of salons specializing in textured hair has been a common and longstanding complaint among curly-haired Parisians, especially those with ties to North Africa, West Africa and the Caribbean, but Dr. Livoreil-Djampou felt she was uniquely positioned to do something about it.

For many years, she was the head of a laboratory at L’Oreal, the French cosmetics company, overseeing straightening and perm hair products.

A scientist with a Ph.D. in chemistry, Dr. Livoreil-Djampou, 53, had never wanted to confine herself within the walls of a laboratory. At L’Oreal, which she joined in 1998, she made frequent field visits to research centers in the United States and Brazil, two of the primary markets for her products, where she could examine people’s hair and talk to those with expertise in styling it.

“I would hear a hairdresser explain things that I could understand through molecular chemistry,” Dr. Livoreil-Djampou said.

She’d then return home to experiment for L’Oreal in her quest to invent more inclusive beauty products for women.

But it wasn’t until Dr. Livoreil-Djampou — whose own hair is straight — went shopping for a salon for her daughter, whose father is from Cameroon, that it dawned on her that it wasn’t only products that needed to do a better job of catering to different hair types.


Read the rest of the story on the New York Times' site

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