How did got2b go from a hair gel for white men to a staple for black wig-wearers?
We explore the strange trajectory of got2b hair products, which went from being known for helping white men achieve spiky styles, to being a cult secret for black women who wear wigs.
10 Mar 2020
I am completely obsessed with wig content. When I’m stressed, getting ready for a night out, or pretending to clean my room – I’m probably watching a video about wigs on YouTube. Weirdly, I don’t actually wear wigs (mainly because, in practice, I don’t know what I’m doing). For a while, I felt like I was cheating on the very serious natural hair movement – instead of watching lengthy videos about co-washing and impossible twist outs, I was consuming endless content on wig installs. It’s like a beautiful symphony – ordering your wig, putting it on a battered polystyrene head, dying the knots to match your skin tone, cutting baby hairs, and of course, securing it down with what seems to be the most popular product – got2b.
got2b, from the hair brand Schwarzkopf (which ironically translates to “black-head” in German), didn’t actually start out its life as wig glue – it’s a hair gel. And, if you ask me – a gel targeted towards white guys who like spikes and cheeky chappy quiffs. For wigs, however, got2b Blasting Freeze Spray or Ultra Glued styling gel is added around the hairline before being made tacky with a blow-dryer. So how did this product, which I think was originally aimed at white men, become a must for keeping your wig secured? And does the brand even know one of it’s biggest consumers are, in fact, black women?
“These days it’s impossible to see where the lace starts and the forehead begins”
Wigs have really skyrocketed in recent years. When I was a teen, lace fronts and full lace wigs were basically reserved for Jamaican aunties and stage productions. Now they’ve become an everyday staple across races – both versatile and protective. But for black women, probably due to the short life-span and potential damage to hair, sew-in weaves with leave outs slowly transitioned into wigs. And the technology for wigs just keeps growing. These days it’s impossible to see where the lace starts and the forehead begins. Baby hairs literally look like they’re sprouting right out of people’s heads – true alchemy.
If you search got2b glued (blasting freeze spray to be exact) on YouTube you’ll find videos upon videos of black women securing down their wigs with it. Yet, if you go onto the Schwarzkopf website, there only seems to be images of white people. The style suggestion on their site says: “rub a small amount of wax between your palms, work into dry hair and style as desired. And for ‘outrageous spikes’ twist a small amount into hair tips”.
Essence, on the other hand, describes the product as “wind tunnel tested and will keep your wig right where you want it. To lock your unit in place, spray the product directly onto the perimeter of your stocking cap. Wait for one to two minutes and then apply your wig. Press against the hairline to make sure your wig is secure.”
So when did this all go down? For the activist, public speaker and former wig-maker Lovette Jallow, Facebook forums are where she discovered the magical wig elixir. “I was introduced to got2b as an adhesive around three years ago,” she says. “I was a member of a black hair forum and a lady recommended it and did a live tutorial.” Lovette found the product was perfect for some of her clients experiencing alopecia and it had a reasonable price point. The earliest video I could find of got2b spray being used as a wig adhesive was back in 2013 by the user CandyHairCompany. And since then, it’s impossible to miss the products new customer base.
I chatted with a spokesperson for the brand in the UK, and they have most definitely been watching. “We noticed in 2017 through our social listening that a lot of women were using the Ultra Glued Gel (which was only available in the USA and was being purchased on Amazon) to lay their wigs and style their edges. We, therefore, made the decision to launch that product in the UK, and we made sure that the product description on pack was reflective of how the product was being used.”
But, if this product wasn’t originally made for us, is it okay to use on afro-textured hair? As it turns out the new got2be glued styling gel has now been tried and tested on afro hair. But as far as the Freeze Hold spray goes, Schwarzkopf say it hasn’t been tested on afro hair because it’s “not detrimental” to any types of hair.
“If you put your wigs on in the morning, they need to come off on the very same day”Lorna Jones – trichologist
I caught up with trichologist Lorna Jones to find out what she thinks about wigs, glues and whether we should be using any adhesives at all. More than anything, and regardless of the product, for healthy hair, Lorna recommends wigs are taken off daily because it’s important for sweat to excrete from the head, rather than being trapped. Which is something Lovette reiterates. “The problem with many glues is that when you do install your wig, you have to leave it down for a minimum of a week because it’s so strong,” Lovette says. Lorna notes that any chemical you put on your body will be absorbed into your body. This means there’s “always an opportunity to cause a chemical reaction”. Her final word of advice is your wig caps should be washed daily. “Good hair care is about clean, healthy hair,” she says.
So, the products can be used on afro hair, and its price point and versatility are what makes it popular – but then, where are all the black women in adverts and on their site? There are only three black women featured on their UK YouTube site (dating back seven years) and none featured on the front page of their website. On their UK Instagram account, they’ve posted hundreds of images in 2020, but only a handful showcase black hairstyles. As Lovette puts it, black women “aren’t only consuming the product but we’re also the most prolific ethnic group that advertise for it free of charge”. And here I am, adding to the free advertisement.
But, the brand is slowly getting better with showcasing black women. They’ve been working with influencers like CHANELLY GIRL, they featured Epiphannie Amusu in the Live Colour campaign last year and Mimi Missfit has a wig tutorial up on their YouTube channel. But in my opinion, they could be doing a lot more. Their website has no signs of black women on the got2b page. And the amount of free advertising and reviews still outweighs the couple of videos and Instagram posts they have.
Should we be expecting more representation from them, or is it time to start supporting black-owned brands? Either way – got2b, even if it’s an accident, is most definitely for black folks now.