Wash days. Need I say more? No matter your hair type, wash days can be a hassle. But for people with curly and tightly coiled tresses, cleansing and conditioning our hair can be especially time-consuming. From detangling to deep conditioning to styling, our wash day routines often involve several steps and products to keep our delicate, textured strands healthy and hydrated. If you’ve ever wished you could simplify your lengthy routine without sacrificing your hair’s moisture, then Black-owned hair care brand Bread is the answer to your prayers.
Launching today at Sephora, Bread has reimagined the way people with textured hair approach their routines. Founder Maeva Heim’s experiences with her hair laid the foundation for BREAD. “The journey to create BREAD started when I myself was transitioning from relaxed to natural hair after my chemical relaxer exploded in my suitcase while traveling," says the Australian native. "When I went looking for brands and products for my hair type, I became disillusioned with what was available on the market, and frustrated with the lack of simplicity,” .
Growing tired of women of color not being included in the conversations around the idea of "lazy girl hair" and the rhetoric around Black hair that pushes for heavy product usage, lengthy routines, and extensive hair manipulation, Heim wanted to make effortless styling an option for Black women too. As a result, Bread solely focuses on creating easy-to-understand vegan and cruelty-free hair care basics. Bread’s pared-down product lineup includes a hair-wash, hair-mask, and hair-oil (which she calls a "lip gloss for your hair")—plus, an oversized satin scrunchie she calls a "bread puff." The products boast simple formulas with effective ingredients, like Australian native oils and super-fruit extracts, including Australian Kakadu plum.
Bread's Hair Wash Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser ($20) is a gentle, semi-sudsing alternative to harsh, super-foamy shampoos. Loaded with hydrating ingredients like argan oil and aloe vera juice, the shampoo cleanses your hair (without stripping it of moisture) and leaves your strands smelling decadent. The brand's second-step product is its Hair Mask Creamy Deep Conditioner ($28) –– a mask that gives slip and softness to your strands, making it easy to detangle. While it is designed to be a rinse-out conditioner, a small amount can be left on your hair to seal in moisture. To round out the lineup, Bread offers its Hair Oil Everyday Gloss ($24), which can be applied to wet or dry hair to boost shine and softness.
“When I was developing the products and deciding what our key ingredients should be, I knew I wanted to hero Australia native ingredients," Heim explains. "I was seeing a lot of the same ingredients over and over again and was questioning why other fruit seeds and butters weren’t being considered, even though their composition and results were similar, or sometimes even better. I wanted to branch out and discovered some exceptional ingredients close to home. We have some phenomenal native fruit and flower species in Australia that do wonders for natural hair, but haven’t really been utilized much, except in skincare.” In addition to the good-for-you ingredients, Bread products are free of sulfates, PEGs, and mineral oils, which qualifies them for the "Clean at Sephora" brands.
While Heim says she never saw herself working in the hair care industry, her background in beauty is extensive. Her mother owned one of the first Black-owned hair salons in Perth, Australia. Migrating from West Africa, Heim’s parents settled in Perth in the ‘90s at a time when there were few African immigrants living there. “I think opening the salon was my Mom’s way of gaining her autonomy back and making the most out of a skill and hairdressing practice that she had learned growing up in West Africa that was virtually unknown or very hard to come by in Perth at that time,” says Heim. “Looking back now, I realize how much of my inclination toward entrepreneurship was inspired by my mom and her ability to make the best of the situation she was in.”
Heim's professional foray into the beauty industry came when she worked in brand management for L’Oreal and Procter & Gamble. It was during this time that she witnessed the blatant lack of representation of women of color in the beauty space. “My time working in the beauty industry was, as I like to say, during the pre-Fenty era. So much of what I experienced behind the curtain of larger brands in the industry was an unwillingness to develop or launch a larger range of foundation shades,” she says. “Speaking in the context of the Australia market specifically, there was also a real trepidation around using Black models. When they were used, it was always in a supporting role. The amazing international ambassadors and models that were part of our asset base were never used as the hero model.”
The lack of inclusivity Heim saw in these beauty campaigns fuels her desire to make the hair care industry more diverse and thoughtful. For Heim, that means properly celebrating women of color through the branding and messaging of her brand. “I wanted to launch Bread as a brand that would allow women of color to be the hero, not just a footnote in a campaign,” says Heim. (She mentions during a phone call that this is why she chose the pouch packaging for the products—so that Black women could see the products and instantly know they were created for them. Plus, they're made with 60% less plastic than traditional haircare packaging.) It also means celebrating Black hair in all of its textures. Part of Bread's mission is to delete certain commonly used category terms from the brand’s language that have historically demonized characteristics associated with textured hair. One of them being “anti-frizz,” a word that Heim says frames frizziness as bad and undesirable.
I wanted to launch BREAD as a brand that would allow women of color to be the hero, not just a footnote in a campaign.
“I love frizz. I love big poofy, unbrushed-looking hair, and I want more people to love it too. I’m making it our brand's ambition to make frizz aspirational. If frizz is desirable, it means less work for women with textured hair,” says Heim. “It means we can lean into the idea of ‘lazy girl’ hair, and we don’t have to over manipulate our hair or spend hours on end trying to craft the perfect glossy curls in order for our hair to be considered ‘good curls’. My hair is 4C and coarsely textured. Maintaining the type of curl that is most often considered the curly ideal is just not realistic for me or for women who have hair like me. Let’s make all types of curls and texture not just acceptable, but desirable. I think as a brand we have that responsibility.”
Bread's launch in Sephora is part of Sephora's Accelerate Program. In 2019, Heim was selected as one of the first-ever Australian participants in the Sephora Accelerate program, securing a launch deal for both in-store and online. Ranging from $20-$58, the full assortment of Bread products will be available on BreadBeautySupply.com and Sephora.com beginning July 14, 2020, followed by select Sephora stores beginning August 28th.