Carolina Contreras started having her hair straightened at a very young age. Contreras, who is Dominican American, says her mother reached for the relaxer at the first sign of new growth, leaving her to believe that straight hair was the ultimate definition of beauty.
But while spending time in the Dominican Republic after college, Contreras found it increasingly difficult to maintain straight hair and eventually decided to maintain and style her natural texture. Now she wants more women of color to embrace their naturally curly and afro hair textures with the help of her Miss Rizos line of natural hair care products. And she’s got the backing of major beauty retailer Sephora to help make her products available to the masses.
Before creating her line of products, Contreras, also known as Miss Rizos, had already made a name for herself in natural hair care. Her website, Miss Rizos, celebrates curly textures and gives tips and tricks for people of color to keep their curls poppin’. Contreras opened her first hair salon in the Dominican Republic in 2014, one of the only salons in the area to emphasize care of curly hair textures without the use of heat or chemical straighteners. In 2019, she opened another salon in New York City, and in 2021, she officially launched her Miss Rizos line of curly hair products.
Now Contreras’ products will be available in Sephora stores under the guidance of their Accelerate program, an initiative designed to provide resources and support to newcomers in the beauty industry. This year, the program focused on supporting brands founded by people of color in their continued efforts to maintain diverse products on their store shelves. The beauty retailer was among the first to sign the 15 Percent Pledge, a commitment to dedicate 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned brands. Miss Rizos is one of 10 BIPOC-owned beauty brands participating in this year’s program.
Contreras is excited to partner with Sephora and hopes her products will help more people of color to fall in love with their natural curls. “I want people to be able to glide their hands through their hair with our products and to feel sort of this ease and joy around their curls,” she said.