Interview: Bri Hall on What Needs to Change in the Beauty Industry

Influencer, Bri Hall, also known as La Hara, is best known for her natural hair and makeup videos, DIY fashion tips and art videos. La Hara is also a soulful songstress known for her soft beats that are influenced by her Jamaican heritage and urban roots. Bri sat down with Glitter to discuss what needs to change in the beauty industry, what we can see from her next, and her advice for women striving to do what she does. Read on to find out more.

GLITTER: How did you get your start as an influencer and when?

BRI: It’s still so cool to hear the word influencer and myself in the same sentence. Truly, I was an art geek with an undeniable passion for my craft and used art as my escape from a lot I was dealing with. I got started posting my work in high school in 2011 on Facebook and YouTube. Mainly for family, old mentors, and friends far away to see my work. I started my beauty channel later in 2013 and people tuned in from around the world. I remember running to my roommates with my laptop in shock.

GLITTER:  What are your top ten favorite products?

BRI: Ooh, that’s a tough one! Since I’m constantly changing my look my products often change too! I would say Shea Moisture’s Hair Milk, Style Factor Edge Booster, Obia Naturals Curl Enhancing Custard, Shea Moisture Manuka Honey Deep Conditioner, Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-In, Shea Moisture Low Porosity Detangler, and so many more for hair! For makeup and skincare: Ursa Major Moisturizing Cream, my facial Steamer, anything lip gloss related, and my milk makeup skin gloss.

GLITTER: What prompted you to create your video on Eco Styler?

BRI: I used to loveeee this product so much I looked past the little red flags like breakage and dryness in protective styles! I was trying a new jar of the gold version and I thought I wasn’t feeling well. My bathroom door was closed and I was getting light headed and my eyes were watering as if I was using SERIOUS chemicals like hair dye. Some reaction videos included women smelling their jar and saying it smelled fine, but for me, it wasn’t a smell it was a more of a chemical fume. At first, I wasn’t sure what was causing this, I took a break from styling and left the bathroom to get some fresh air, but the feeling continued. I realized then that it wasn’t just the bathroom the chemical ammonia-like fume was coming from the jar and my hair! I looked at the ingredients and began to search chemical databases and realized it was a formaldehyde releasing agent that was giving me this reaction. I hopped on camera before my hair was fully dry to share what I just experienced still in shock. I shampooed my hair immediately after filming.

 GLITTER: Have you coated all of your hair in the past with Eco Styler Gel and if so, which ones?

BRI: I’d seen comments under older videos of people saying they couldn’t use the product due to similar reactions (Itchy scalp, watery eyes, migraines, etc.) but similar to “backlash” videos and the toxic “if it’s not happening to me it doesn’t matter,” mindset some of us have I continued to use this product for definition to my curls. After making the video so many people DM’d me saying they noticed years ago some of the things I had. I feel as though I received a batch where the fragrance wasn’t mixed well enough to cover the chemical odor.   

GLITTER: Did the symptoms stop after you used it?

BRI: Symptoms such as migraines, watery eyes, breakage etc. almost completely stopped after using this product, but I must stress that a LARGE percentage of products marketed towards Black Women have similar ingredients.

GLITTER: Do you feel fully recovered and if so, how long did it take? What tips can you give someone who wants to avoid toxic products?

BRI: Research, research, research! Some things work for some and some don’t for others. I always say listen to your body, I’ve found some ingredients I’m tolerant of and others are extreme no-no’s for me

GLITTER: What types of reactions did you get from viewers online for your critique of Eco Styler Gel?

BRI: The video got mixed reviews in the Youtube natural hair community. The product almost became “cool or rebellious” to use. Some were harsh, which I didn’t understand. I’m a Black woman making a positive change for myself and encouraging others to research and pay attention to their bodies and ingredients. We say we encourage speaking out on the Internet, but I’ve noticed if it’s not the popular opinion people WANT to hear it’s often condemned and I wish to change that.

GLITTER: Many feel the way the product works outweighs the health risks. How do you feel about that?

BRI: I think this speaks volumes to how few products there are for Kinky Hair Textures that give phenomenal definition at an affordable price. People shouldn’t feel like they MUST stick with a product that may not be the best simply because there’s nothing else for them available at a reasonable price.

GLITTER: What are good alternatives to Eco Styler Gel?

BRI: One of the best I’ve found for the price and the quantity is homemade Flaxseed Gel. I get flaxseeds 2.19 per lb at my local Whole Foods. That’s enough to make gel for a year!

GLITTER: What changes would you like to see in the beauty product industry?

BRI: More options for kinky hair textures that are AFFORDABLE for sure. I would love to see the US remove certain ingredients from the cosmetics market that Europe and Canada have removed. It is possible!

GLITTER: Women of color have more options today than years ago for hair care products. With those options comes increased risk of toxins. What are some products that are absolutely organic but still get the job done?

BRI: Even though the world tried to cancel Shea Moisture I still have love for the fact that they use better ingredients than many brands I’ve seen. Kinky curly is a great brand as well as Obia Naturals.

GLITTER: As a female of color, what do you feel needs to change in the beauty industry to give more opportunities to women of color and make it more inclusive?

BRI: More women of color OWNING beauty and haircare brands 100% by themselves and sourcing their own ingredients without parent companies. Shade range is still a huge issue I want to see more brands like Fenty Beauty and Beauty Bakerie shutting things down in the industry.

GLITTER: Have you worked with any big brands? If so, which ones?

BRI: Google was probably one of the biggest brands I’ve worked with and I’m still in shock.

GLITTER: Glitter has a celebrity self-love campaign. What does self-love mean to you?

BRI: Self-love means doing what’s best for you and meeting yourself where you are. Self-love is also honesty, accountability, and self-awareness.

GLITTER: What do you do for self-care each week or daily?

BRI: I love sheet masks because they don’t involve length rinse off time on the go. I also love movie nights in, facial steaming, and hot tea. I get relaxed just thinking about it.

GLITTER: What advice do you have for women who are striving to do what you do?

BRI: Be fearless in your voice! If not you… then who? There is no one like you, not everyone will agree with you and that’s okay! It’s actually relieving not pleasing everyone 24/7, imagine how exhausting that would be? Work hard and offer something that’s different.

GLITTER: Any up and coming projects?

BRI: I’ve been working on music for a year under the alias “La Hara.” something a lot of people don’t know is my love for playing and learning new instruments and passion for writing. I can’t wait to share it.

GLITTER: How can readers follow you?

BRI: @BriHallOfficial everywhere and @ Bri Hall on YouTube.❤️