Search Trends in Natural Hair and Relaxed Hair

Sunday, March 8, 2015

For my job, I do a lot of SEO (search engine optimization) research, and I was learning about some really cool Google features like Google Trends during some marketing SEO training. I love stuff like this because it's interesting to see how interest in certain topics change over the years. I got to thinking last night, and I thought it would be cool to see exactly how natural hair has trended over the years.

I compared natural hair to relaxed hair, and it's interesting to see that relaxed hair has always been significantly lower in terms of searches. I actually thought it would be higher, and trend down as time went on. From about 2005 to 2009, natural hair searches stayed pretty level, and then began to shoot up rapidly. It looks like it is starting to level out, but it could shoot up again.

natural hair trends
Natural hair is red and relaxed hair is blue

natural hair trends
Natural hair is blue, relaxed hair is red 

Ok, so I know the search "natural hair" and "relaxed hair," are a bit vague because they actually can include searches that have nothing to do with black women and their hair. So to focus it a bit more, I decided to add the word "regimen" to both words. Again, natural hair is significantly higher and increased searches began sooner compared to relaxed hair. But if you notice, in 2012, natural hair saw a decrease while relaxed hair saw an increase and they almost switched places. I have two thoughts on why this happened. For one, if you notice in the previous graph, natural hair took off in 2009, and I'm wondering if maybe those women who went natural in 2009, began to consider relaxing their hair in 2012 (I've noticed in natural hair forums and Facebook groups, many women begin to consider relaxing at the 2-3 year mark). My other thought is that, because of the healthy hair movement (which encompasses both natural and relaxed hair), many women who relaxed began to search more about healthy relaxed hair, developing a regimen, and maintaining their hair.

Natural Hair Trends by Region
Natural Hair Trends by Region (Country)

Ok, back to natural and relaxed hair. So here is the searches by region for natural hair...I really thought the US would be in the top 7, but they aren't. Instead it's the countries in the Caribbean. I can't say much about what this means, since I am not familiar with the natural hair movement in the Caribbean, but I will say it is interesting and deserves more research. But...

natural hair trends by city
Natural Hair Trends by City

If you look at natural hair searches by cities, most searches are by U.S. cities, not the Caribbean cities. Now, this may be confusing, but it makes sense. Antigua & Barbuda has less than 100,000 people, while Atlanta, GA has over a million. So proportionally, while people in the Caribbean are searching natural hair more than people in the U.S., there are more searches for natural in the U.S. *

natural hair trends by region
Relaxed Hair Trends by Region (Country)

Here is the regional search trend for relaxed hair. Again, the Caribbean is at the top. What this probably means is that Caribbean countries are following in the footsteps of the U.S., by taking an interest in black healthy hair, relaxed and natural. But, what we didn't see in the natural hair search trend is African countries. Now, I can't really say why this is except that relaxed hair (or say an interest in relaxed hair) is more prominent in African countries, when compared to the Caribbean and the U.S.

Relaxed Hair Trends by City
Relaxed Hair Trends by City
Relaxed hair trends by city does line up with relaxed hair trends by region, unlike natural hair. But that's to be expected. You do see three of the same cities - Kingston, Alexandria, Atlanta - come up in relaxed hair, and it leads me to be believe that there's more of an interest in black hair, as a whole, in those cities.

natural hair trends
Natural Hair Trends Peaked in the US in 2012 Compared to Other Countries

Before I go, I just want to leave you with this last graph. Searches for natural hair in the U.S. compared to other countries peaked in 2012. Again, I'm not fully sure what this means (I definitely don't think it means that natural hair is becoming less popular), but I would say that natural hair is beginning to become really popular in other countries. 

Oh, and one more thing, don't take this too seriously. It is something I did for fun, and I have not conducted any formal research on natural hair in the US or other countries. A lot can be said from these graphs, but these are only graphs, and they cannot stand solely on their own.

*Again, I know this is confusing, but there's a reason for this. Another is that many Caribbean countries have a black majority (70% to near 100%). While the black population in the US hovers around 12-13%. So a search on natural hair in the US, compared proportionally to the Caribbean, is going to be smaller. Hopefully that makes sense. 

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