Protective styles are an excellent way for women to switch up their looks, especially during the summer. Unfortunately, the products used can cause scalp irritation, specifically synthetic hair extensions. Rebundle is a plant-based hair extension company doing its part to reimagine sustainability in the Black hair community. The company’s founder Ciara Imani May initially created the brand to combat the itchy, irritated scalp that sometimes comes from the extensions used in protective styles. In doing so, May also learned about the importance of sustainability and found a way to make scalps and the Earth happy.

Black Business Month

During the month of August, Black-owned businesses are celebrated and uplifted. 21Ninety is highlighting several, Black women-owned companies that you should know. That includes Rebundle and it’s innovative offerings!

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Sustainability in Black Hair Community

The Black hair industry, known for its vibrant innovation and influence, struggles with the urgent question of sustainability. Characterized by an extensive array of products catering to specific needs, this $2.5 billion industry carries significant environmental implications. Concerns like single-use plastics in packaging, chemically-intensive formulations, and the broader impact on health and the environment have surfaced. The ethics surrounding human hair sourcing for wigs and extensions is also gaining attention. Exploitative practices in this area remain problematic, reinforcing the urgency to promote ethical and fair trade standards.

During an interview with InStyle, May also touched on another issue that comes with synthetic hair, an itchy, irritated scalp.

“There are many reasons why plastic synthetic braiding hair might cause the scalp to itch,” May said. “A lot of chemicals are used to give plastic synthetic hair the same shine, smoothness, and style as human hair extensions. These ingredients can easily cause a negative reaction on your scalp.”

May continued that one in three people experience scalp irritation because of this.

“These toxins are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and huge pollutants in the environment,” she explained. “Unlike human hair, plastic synthetic hair isn’t as breathable. With your natural hair hidden underneath the synthetic styles, there’s potential for bacteria and irritation to form, causing itching and scalp inflammation. These irritations can then lead to further issues down the line, such as hair shedding and daily discomfort from your protective style.”

Rebundle removes the worries of unknown, harsh chemicals by repurposing discarded banana stems, thus, creating sustainable and non-toxic hair extensions. According to the official website, the plant-based extensions are “here for the eco-girl, the next-gen girlie, the cool mom of three, those with sensitive scalps, and every person in between who wears braids.”

How to Care for Your Rebundle Hair

Currently, the plant-based hair comes in eight shades, but the website encourages customers to email in to suggest different hair colors. The hair comes in two lengths – 22 inches or 30 inches – but since it is hand cut lengths may vary. People can use heat on their Rebundle extensions up to 350 degrees like other extensions. If you want to seal the hair, you can dip, flat iron, or curl the ends without worrying about melting.   

Wearers can get a max of six weeks out of the hair and have the ability to wash and condition the hair while installed. If you don’t wear it the full six weeks, then you’re able to clean and reuse the hair.