19 December 2010

Bases and the Blogger (a fairly *important* post)

I have to capitalize my words normally for this post, 'cause bases are srs bzness!

So not too long ago, the natural hair community online was set ablaze when Afroveda increased her prices by about 50%. Now, I'd only ever ordered from Afroveda once (as evidenced by my single review), when I first went natural, so the increases didn't really faze me much, but understandably people were up in arms. I don't recall the exact prices, so don't quote me, but I think butters went from $12 to $24, which is absolutely ridiculous.

Understandably, the curly girls of the internet world banded together to find cheaper alternatives, which lead to quite the startling discovery, which in turn sparked a full scale investigation of popular lines like Christine Gant, Hairveda, and wherever else people like to order their haircare goodies from.

The ladies over at naturallycurly discovered that Afroveda was using bases for her products anyway. 

Uhm, what?

For those of you who don't know, a base is a mixture of ingredients that you can buy wholesale (like one gallon of product for nine bucks - sweet!). From this point, you can use these bases to make your own product - adding more ingredients, color, fragrance, what have you. Or you can simply add some scented oils, stick it in a bottle, and charge what you want for it.

Which, let's be honest, is business. The problem comes in when your website states how frustrated you were of not finding anything to work on your hair, so you slave in your kitchen for days, poring over ingredients and whipping up batches until you've arrived at some holy, magical amalgamation of shea butter and coconut oil and market it as "home/handmade." That, my friends, is lying. And people usually don't enjoy being lied to, but when your lie involves their money, people get down right angry and it's completely within their rights to do so.

A simple google search of the ingredients posted on an etsy listing or product description, could potentially lead you to websites like essentialwholesale or ingredientstodiefor. And while you may not need a gallon of shea butter cream rinse leave-in, you can easily see that $9 for 128 ounces is infinitely better than $12 for 8 ounces. Shipping might tip the scales price-wise, but the bulk will always be the better deal. 

So, before I get into how this affects bloggers, I'd like to speak as a consumer (at this point in my blogging career, I am a consumer first).

I'll start with saying that I am all for supporting black businesses and putting money back into the black community. If I have it, sure, I'll pay the extra three dollars. What am I going to do with a gallon of product anyway? (Except maybe sell it to my natural classmates on campus...) 

However, if I have to endure exploitative shipping fees, a long processing time, or rude customer service, I just won't order at all. And don't lie to me. I can see how one may not exactly be too keen on broadcasting that they use bases, but don't try to pass yourself off as one of Mother Necessity's neglected children and everything on your website is made in your kitchen, with your Kitchenaid brand blender and Pyrex glass bowls, when you and I both know damn well you stuck a funnel in a bottle and poured some product in there, slapped a label on it, and hiked the price up. Just don't do it.

So where does that leave the beauty blogger? Especially those of us concerned with natural hair and the products marketed towards us?

I will be the first to admit: my product reviews don't delve too deeply into the politics of things. I enjoy writing thorough reviews, yes, from everything to the packaging to the actual performance. I like details and I like providing details. I don't provide research material on the ingredients or the companies (although I will start; more about this in the next blog post) and I'm not particularly interested.

However, there are some things that I cannot and will not ignore. I may not be a "big time" or "popular" blogger, and I've never been sent a product for review (and the way I'm going, it may stay this way ;P ). But I pride myself on being honest. What do you or I have to gain from lying? Absolutely nothing. I paid my money for these products and you guys took the time to click follow, so why would I bother lying? I haven't done it and I won't ever do it.

If I am ignorant to a product being made from a base, there's no one to really blame. However, if I review a product that I know to be made from a base, I will say so in the product review. It just feels dishonest of me to review a product, especially if it's favorable, and not reveal everything I know about it. It just doesn't sit right with me, so I won't lie to you all like that, I won't do it. 

All I can do is present all the information I have. It's up to you guys to decide what you do with it. Now, if I feel as though the company provides a great product, at a reasonable price, and good customer service, I'll encourage you to purchase it from that vendor. But it is ultimately up to the reader where they put their money.

So there's my quick two cents on this topic. :)


BeesOHoney said...

"I've never been sent a product for review (and the way I'm going, it may stay this way ;P"

lol That might be true, but I hope you continue to do what you do- which is make honest reviews. I appreciate this article. It speaks for a lot of faithful customers who are probably upset with Afroveda and other small businesses.

Melyssa said...

thanks so much for chiming in, sis. :) like i said, lying doesn't really benefit anyone, so i won't do it. i started this blog to document what works for ME and MY HAIR. and if any of the information helps others, then great! so why would i lie on my blog, which i started to help me? why lie to yourself? lol. just doesn't make sense.