Here's what you need to know about the latest controversy swirling on the app.
At times, TikTok is a beauty lover's best friend. It's a place to discover products, learn different techniques, and share hot takes on both new and old beauty hacks. However, because of its ability to catapult voices and products to viral levels of popularity, it's also home to the occasional controversy. The latest drama to unfold on the app surrounds a single product: Mielle's Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil.
TikTok user Alix Earle, who is white and has straight hair, shared a video in December 2022 listing her favorite Amazon purchases of the year. Among her picks is Mielle's hair oil, a product created by a Black woman and primarily designed for natural hair types and textures. The video now has five million views and counting, along with many comments from Black women asking Earle and others with fine hair textures to "leave Mielle alone," as one commenter put it, in fear of the oil becoming more expensive or inaccessible in the future.
Ahead, find out exactly why this hair oil has seemingly everyone on TikTok talking about it.
What is Mielle's Rosemary Hair Oil?
Hair and beauty brand Mielle was founded by CEO Monique Rodriguez in 2014. Its popular Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil nourishes hair follicles, smooths split ends, and addresses dry scalp issues, according to its product description on Mielle's website.
The $10 oil contains more than 30 essential oils and extracts, including rosemary, an ingredient known for its anti-inflammatory properties that may boost hair growth. It also includes biotin (aka vitamin B7 and vitamin H), an essential nutrient for healthy skin, hair, and nails.
While the website claims the product is "formulated for all hair types and textures," it's designed for people to use on protective styles, including braids and weaves, by applying a small amount to the scalp and combing through to ends. Users can also apply it to the ends of the hair to treat split ends, according to the product description.
ICYDK, hair oils boost the health and strength of hair, though it's important to pick a product that's best for your specific hair type and texture and use it correctly, stylist Steven Picciano, a Goldwell National Artist, previously told Shape. "Hair oils can be used for grooming, maintaining moisture, and [preventing] breakage," Jennifer Haley, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Scottsdale, AZ, also previously told Shape.
Why are TikTokers upset?
The reason some TikTokers are upset by the inclusion of Mielle's rosemary hair oil in Earle's video isn't simply because more people are discovering the product. Instead, they're upset because of the systemic implications that it may have on the communities the oil is most useful for.
There may be aisles of hair-care products suited for hair types common among white people, but stores still don't typically carry more than a handful of options for Black hair types and textures, as many TikTokers have recently pointed out. Therefore, it's problematic for people with the option to use a wide variety of products to use one designed specifically for a community that has traditionally had fewer effective products available to them. The increased demand likely driven by an influencer such as Earle, who has a huge following comprised of more than three million people, leaves products at risk of selling out or going up in price and becoming unavailable to those who really need them, according to TikTok users.
Additionally, people worry that if the formula becomes popular among people with fine, straight hair, it could lead the brand to change the formula to better suit different hair types. And yes, this is rumored to have happened before to products from brands such as Shea Moisture.
Despite these concerns, Mielle claims it won't be changing anything about its products, according to Twitter and Instagram posts from the brand. "There have been a few recent comments posted on this topic, but I can personally guarantee you that we are not making any ingredient changes," reads a statement from Rodriguez posted on the Mielle Instagram account in January 2023. "I also wanted to come here first to assure you directly that we have no plans to change the formula for Rosemary Mint Oil or any of our products."