– by Antonia
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since I quit my job and moved to Paris. It still feels like I’m still getting settled. But given a year has gone by and my suitcase full of hair supplies that I brought with me from the US has dwindled, I’ve had to start to explore what the Parisian Black hair scene has to offer. I kicked this off last month by hosting a Black Expats in Paris Meet Up called Champagne & Cheveux (cheveux = hair in French).
A bunch of us gals from the States, France and outside of France got together to talk about hair. I specifically wanted to find out where to find products and services I could trust. I love how hair, no matter where you are, is a surefire unifier. The turnout was lovely, with a great mélange of women who had come to Paris for different reasons—work, studies, the language.
Besides meeting wonderful people, I was able to come away with solid leads on the products and services available in Paris beyond all the hair shops around Chateau D’eau. Here’s the low down.
hair care products
Epicerie et Artisanat VELAN
83/87 Passage Brady 75010 PARIS
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am – 8:30pm
Velan is an Indian epicerie in the 10th arrondissement of Paris that provides quality Indian food, aroma and care products. You’re not going to find your typical hair care products here, but you will find oils that should be a part of any brown girl’s hair routine. You’ll find Avocado oil, JoJoba, Aragan, Almond oil and lots more. They even have raw and unrefined Shea Butter (beurre de karité in French) and you’ll also find Henna products (for hair coloring) in various colors. Prices here are reasonable. The oils cost a little over €3 each. I’ve seen simple oils like these cost far more because of import costs. Another plus is that you can also purchase their products online.
4 rue Poissonnière 75002 PARIS
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 2pm; then 3pm – 7pm
Colorful Black is another store that was mentioned in the conversation. It’s a small boutique in the 2nd arrondissement and is perfect for those missing products that you’d normally get at home, like Hair Rules, Mixed Chicks, and Shea Moisture. The product offering is great but the downside is the pricing. It seems like there’s no way around increased prices due to import costs. For example, a 13 ounce bottle of Shea Moisture shampoo will cost you about €18.00 here, whereas you could get it for $9 on Target.com. But if you know what your hair likes and you won’t be in the States anytime soon, Colorful Black is a great option. If you pretend the exchange rate doesn’t exist, the pricing doesn’t feel as intense. Like Velan, Colorful Black also has an online shop.
weaves & wigs
It’s probably safe to say that most Black women in Paris are familiar with the hair shops that line the Chateau D’eau part of town. It’s almost like 125th street in Harlem with hair store after hair store selling largely the same products. You’ll find your Pink Moisturizer and tea tree oil type products there. You’ll also find TONS of wig and weave shops, as well as plenty of men and women soliciting you to get your hair done at their salons (even if you’re hair is already done, LOL). I’ve only given Chateau D’eau one chance but was put off by the pricing and the quality of the hair there. I should try it again; I’ve heard there are diamonds in the rough.
Nevertheless, an alternative weave/wig source to Chateau D’eau is AliExpress.com. It’s basically like Amazon.com but it ships to 200 countries, France included. Per the website, almost all products qualify for free shipping. I was told that finding good hair on this site is a trial and error process. But it’s worth it once you find a supplier that works.
So far Polished Hair Care Salon on the Champs Elysées is at the top of my list for salons that cater to Black hair in Paris. But another Salon that was mentioned at the get-together was Locks and Twists in the 18th arrondissement. Looking at their website, they offer a wide range of services, but one of the ladies who tried the salon found it a little “trop cher” (too expensive). They’re located on 14 rue du Ruisseu 75018 PARIS.
I’m happy to know that I have the above options here in Paris. I no longer have to rely on care packages that cost $70 to ship from the US to France. I’m eager to dive deeper into Black hair in Paris. So stay tuned, there’s lots more to come on this subject!