We all have our fair share of hair horror stories—it happens. For people of color, the woe of finding a stylist who can "manage" or "deal with" our natural texture is not an easy feat, to say the least. Even finding hair inspo pics for textured hair that looks modern and fresh is hard. (*Cue hours of scrolling on Instagram.*) Now, thanks to the Colour app, this is all about to change.
The Colour app is the first-ever hairstyle inspiration database for people of color. The founder, Debra Shigley, wanted to create an inclusive one-stop shop for people of color to have an array of gorgeous inspiration photos and skilled stylists at their fingertips. "Women of color love to change up their hair, and yet it's hard to find curated images online of 'editorial' textured hairstyles," says Shigley. "Our clients constantly send us photos of their inspiration look prior to an appointment—often photos of white women because it's so hard to find, say, a modern, deconstructed updo on a black woman.
Or they're looking for box braids, but they're not sure what style would be best for a vacation trip versus work. So we decided to create our own inspo collection by and for women of color."
For decades, Shigley was a frustrated client. As a biracial woman (half Jamaican-American, half Jewish), she struggled to find stylists who could handle and embrace her ultra-curly, kinky hair without having to sit in a salon all day. "As a journalist and lawyer, my time was crunched, and especially after I became a working mom, going to the salon was too inconvenient," Shigley says. "I thought other women must feel the same way. So I decided to take the leap and create a natural hair app that would enable busy women to get their hair done at home by trusted stylists."
How Colour Works
On the Colour app, you can search through a myriad of stunning textured styles. Think: box braids, updos, Bantu knots, twists, braids, extensions, and even kids' styles for parents who are thinking of their child's next 'do. What's even more clutch is that you can filter the styles by occasion: work, date night, gala, vacation, and everyday looks. "The collection is curated and searchable so it's not like finding a needle in a haystack," says Shigley. "We wanted to make it even more convenient to browse some inspo, book your appointment, and get excited for your next adventure."
The app also features a "real women reviews" section that outlines reviews of client experiences with stylists along with final hair looks. "We added real women reviews because as women of color, our clients have so many variations in hair type," explains Shigley. "For instance, women can see how Colour flat twists look completely different on a real woman with long coily hair versus a woman with short loose curls, along with different variations of the style you can try. Each user has profile stats.
Their profile stats let us know if her hair is natural, chemically straightened, transitioning, or enhanced with extensions. Seeing real photos of how other clients in the Colour community have worn a look helps women visualize a variation that suits their personal style and social calendar."
The app's "inspiration" page features thousands of styles that serve as a shortcut for the hair consultation process since so many women use inspo pics before making a hair change. "Remember sitting in the beauty shop and leafing through hair books? Well, we wanted to bring that experience into the modern era with chic hairstyles," says Shigley. "Let's say you have a getaway coming up. You can search for the occasion and the type of look you have in mind."
Wondering how Colour chooses its stylists? Let's just say it's legit. "All Colour stylists must pass an audition on natural hair, an interview process, and a criminal background check," explains Shigley. "Colour concierges your appointment to match you with the best stylist for your look and location since we come to you, as well as 24-7 customer support. Think of Colour as a 'salon in the cloud' that gives you the beauty shop experience minus the beauty shop."
Why Colour Is So Important
Colour's mission is to provide inspiring and diverse visuals of textured styles that will work on a rainbow of hair textures. "We've got a big dream to democratize the hair industry and create more convenient, empowering options for women of color," says Shigley. "It's getting beyond a place where women of color spend their lives 'managing' their hair. The real goal is that we never have to think about our hair again."
Shigley continues: "The hair industry has long been dominated by the idea and image of a straight-haired consumer, which is quite ironic given that nearly half the world has curly or ethnically curly hair. That's driven a lot of inequality in terms of not only the visual representation we see in media but also the quality of products and services available to textured hair consumers and the esteem with which styling black hair is held."
Speaking of stylists and salons, Shigley notes that the market is fragmented for consumers. "It's rare that one stylist or salon is a go-to for a blowout and box braids and flat twists and feed-in braids. And, let's be real, in a neighborhood and environment that are equally pleasant every time. Colour cuts through all that inconvenient searching and delivers the type of look you want when you want it, and did I mention we come to your house?"
The most fulfilling part about Colour is how it's changing the way we think about hair. "I think about how, because of Colour, my two daughters will probably never look down at their own curly hair the way I struggled with mine growing up. They see different Colourstylists all the time styling mine and other women's hair like magic in all sorts of fun styles that embrace our hair's natural versatility. It's more than just hair—it's about enhancing a woman's feelings of confidence so she is empowered to take on the world.
That's really our calling at Colour."