Is Using Lotion a Black Thing?

Race Manners: We’re unlikely to get real data on this ashiness-inspired topic. But there’s something fascinating about race-related differences that make us ask each other, “For what?!”

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From black commenters:

* “Rag (aka washcloth) then baby oil then lotion were all essentials. Vaseline on the joints in winter. Same for man, woman, child. Visible ash or crust earned you the dozens for days.”

* “Our freshman year, there was a brother who was a year ahead who did stand-up. There was a BSA event up at the Quad, and he did 10 minutes on stage. The only joke I remember: ‘Lotta black folks in one room tonight. What’s goin’ on? Are they giving out free lotion?’ That joke alone killed. We were his after that.”

From white commenters:

* “I wasn’t raised to use lotion or anything. I do use a face cream and a hand cream in the winter. Generally I don’t like the feeling of lotion though.”

* “I use it but was taught to do so by the black ppl who helped raise me, not by my birth family. Check out comedian Bill Burr talking about learning to use lotion from living with black folks.”

And because there are people who will actually get upset about their moisture levels being mischaracterized by this piece, I’ll include this reminder that there are exceptions to every rule and every stereotype:

* “I have a really good friend who is white. She uses cocoa and shea butter, and she was doing that before she met me. When I went to her house and saw the cocoa butter, I almost fell out I told her she was an anomaly.”

But lotion is advertised widely and found in every drugstore—not just in the “ethnic” section, with relaxers, or off to the side, with the special shaving cream—so it can’t be that simple, right? One commenter suggested that it’s not that white people don’t use lotion—it’s just that black people have a more intense relationship with it:

* “I think all of the butters and Bath and Body and Body Shop and other similar retailers somewhat mainstreamed lotion as a bonus for added scent and moisture. In contrast, I think Black folk tend to see lotion as a non optional routine and almost medicinal, like you can’t miss a day or if you do, you are uncomfortable or there at the ‘try me’ section of the store trolling for lotion. I have had strangers ask me for hand lotion after using the bathroom. And I have given it to them feeling almost we are a secret society and I am saving them from the disaster of crackling and dry hands.”