There are 427 million Spanish speakers on the planet and at least 40 per cent of them are Afro-descendants. Although there are far more English blogs dedicated to black beauty, there are some amazing resources for the Spanish speakers among us. Here are some of the best black beauty bloggers out there letting you into their Spanish, Latina and Afro beauty secrets and product tips!
Spanish YouTube pioneer Desirée Bela-Lobedde Boleche, aka Negra Flor, was born in Barcelona to Equatorial-Guinean parents. She speaks a few languages including English but all her content is Spanish.
While working as an administrator at her local council, she is one of the most successful Afro bloggers in Spain and has been invited to congresses, lectures and events in Europe and Latin America.
‘My blog is about Afro hair, black beauty, aesthetic activism and lifestyle. I became a blogger when I decided to go natural in 2011 to get rid of the chemical damaged caused by relaxing products. I am also the mother of two girls: how could I tell them their hair was nice and beautiful while I kept relaxing my hair? It was a matter of coherence.
‘It is not easy to be a black blogger in Spain. I update my blog knowing how difficult it is for me to be sponsored by big brands, because brands consider black Spanish people a minority, so they don’t care about doing collaborations with me, with us. We are mostly ignored and scarcely invited to events or product presentations.’
Thirty-year-old law student Dorys was born in Barcelona to Ndowé parents from Equatorial Guinea. Her videos are made for ‘black and Afro-descendant women’.
‘A few years ago I started watching videos and visiting blogs that caught my eye. And even though I really enjoyed them, I found it difficult to feel 100 per cent identified with some vloggers and YouTubers basically because of the language… So I thought of sharing what I was passionate about in my language and help others who struggled as I did when watching the African-American YouTubers.
‘As a blogger in Spain, the feeling is of isolation and remoteness. It seems that there is only one profile of vloggers/blogger in Spain … There are few brands that tell the profile afro-descendant. But at the same time it is very rewarding, since followers identify with you more as a “minority”.’
Colombia has a 53.2 per cent of mixed-race population and is the country with the third largest African population in South America. 23-year-old Yudis Rivas is studying history at the University of Antioquia and her YouTube channel is about all things hair, history and heritage.
‘A little more than three years ago, when my thinking became critical in my story and identity, I made the decision to wear natural Afro hair, to claim what I am, honour my ancestors and be consistent with what I think and say. Afro Power is the result of a very passionate period of my life.
‘It was also the beginning of leaving my hair natural and pitifully. The country’s black YouTubers are very few compared to the white-mestizo YouTubers who dominate the social network in Colombia. Most of the time I am unnoticed. My audience is mostly Colombian, and of course, I’m also happy to reach many people around of the world.
‘As the information in Spanish was almost nil, I created the channel with the intention of teaching about the love and care of Afro hair, but right at that time in my life I was not just about hair and I had a lot of ideas, hence my content is not only about Afro hair, but about history (which is my area of knowledge) and everything that could be of interest to the Afro community in general. That’s why I became a blogger.
‘Consumption of cosmetics in Colombia is difficult with darker skin. We have several special cosmetic brands for Afro women and there are more and more with the entrepreneurship and empowerment of Afro women in the region. There are more and more hair products. There are more and more girls who are encouraged to market their family recipes as hair products and I want there to be more.’
Cirle Tatis Arzuza was born in Cartagena, Colombia and is a social communicator at the University of Cartagena. A year ago, she was working with victims of the armed conflict, formulating social projects. She told me her channel is about resistance and acceptance.
‘Actually, at the beginning it was not a decision or desire to become Vlogger or YouTuber. Instead it was the pursuit of fulfilling my purpose which has led me to this. When I thought of creating something like Pelo Bueno, I just wanted to share my experiences around my curly hair and be a help to all those people, especially women and girls, who wanted to regain their curly hair.
‘I wanted to give them tools to know and understand the historical value of our hair and as an instrument of political resistance in our class-based and racial societies today.’
‘Last year, one of the most important newspapers in the country, El Espectador, awarded me the Afro-Colombian of the Year award in the social sector. However, in the local area, in my city, there are many people and even media that do not understand and consider it superfluous that someone talks about Afro – or ‘rucho’ hair as we call it in the city – and to encourage black women to leave the smoothing creams and give their natural beauty a chance.’
‘For a woman with my skin tone, it is relatively easy to access makeup according to its colour. But for women with darker complexion it is really an arduous and even frustrating task, because the makeup offered by the market does not give them a variety of shades or products according to their skins and the options, mostly imported, have low prices.
‘There are not many products for Afros or curly hair and more than half the product lines have not really been manufactured for our hair type.
It’s a deceptive marketing strategy which promises specialised products but sells nothing more than the same items – full of petrochemicals, designed for smooth hair, and with ingredients that dry our hair out.’
It is said we don’t really appreciate the beauty of our mother tongue until we have to emigrate. Diana Torres, a teacher who is currently studying cosmetology, exported the Spanish language all the way from Cali, Colombia, to Houston, TX. In her videos, she encourages acceptance and showcases the versatility of Afro hair.
‘I decided to be a Vlogger because I saw many videos of Afro hair but they were all in English and I came up with videos in Spanish with the knowledge from American vloggers. They are for my Latino community with hair type like mine.
‘At the beginning, I was very shy and didn’t speak to the camera. I just did tutorials without talking or just with photos. Then when I gained more confidence because I had experience, I dared to start talking to them.
‘In this country (USA) there are countless brands and almost all of them handle the tones of our black skin. I really do not feel excluded here.’
Serafina Bikie aka Reina Bikie was born in Equatorial Guinea 33 years ago and raised in Spain from the age of three. She exported the Spanish language to London when relocating in her 20s. Her channel is about ‘Afro Beauty, fashion and cosmetics in general.’
‘I am a business management graduate with a nine to five who has always been into shopping cosmetics and clothes. I found out that very often other women on the street would ask me where I bought this and that. Also, I know there are few cosmetics for black women in other European countries like Spain. One day I decided to make my shopping public so I could share with other black women things that are there for us, in my own way.’
‘I consider myself to be a creative person and YouTube is allowing me to express that part of me in my videos. I believe being a beauty vlogger in the UK is a common hobby, however, sharing the information in Spanish is not that common… and that’s what I do.’
Raquel María Santos Ribeiro is an InstaVlogger born in Spain in her twenties. Her parents are Cape Verdeans and always talked to her in Creole, a mix of West African dialects and Portuguese. She has a degree in Biochemistry and a master’s in clinical analysis. She can speak English fluently but Spanish is the language of her InstaVlog.
‘I am all things Afro and natural lifestyle. A while ago, I encouraged myself to be an “InstaVlogger” because of my love relationship with my hair. I asked myself: why not share my experience? Since there are many people with channels on YouTube or other social networks explaining their routine, care, hairstyles, etc., I opted for Instagram. In my opinion, it is a direct and fast social network. If the photo seems interesting you decide whether or not you read the caption, or if there is a video you decide if you take the time to see it’
‘YouTube has been a great help in learning how to do hairstyles or masks, but it is also true that you have to spend 15 to 30 minutes to see them and usually always start with a presentation, with greetings, with your own promotion of social networks and so on. In Instagram, there are only 60 seconds, in which the information is condensed but in an understandable way for this life that we have to run from one side to another. And finally, the interesting thing about Instagram is the “hashtag”; you can relate topics quickly, and then there are the comments and DMs that can be answered quickly, as well as the stories.’
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‘I started in September last year, so I do not have many followers (nearly 500, bit by bit) but what I’m noticing is that the audience I reach is the black Latin rather than the black Spanish.
‘I don’t know if I venture too much to say that there are still not many natural people in relation to the number of black people or simply, not enough Afro hair in Spain. But this is just my personal perception. Referring to the Cape Verdean community, I see more and more people with natural hair, which makes me glad.’
‘I hope one day to become an “influencer” but in a good way, not in relation to fame. I want to help people who want to have healthy, strong hair. We do have that versatility in terms of hairstyles and that our natural hair is our identity.’
‘I do not do make-up so I do not know how difficult or easy it is to find such products, but in relation to hair, it is complicated in Spain. I live in the province of Alicante, and there are no shops in which Afro hair products are offered. My choice would be the on-line purchase, which I personally do not like because I don’t know if the product I’m buying smells nice or has the right texture.
‘Also, I do not like to buy online because of the price so, I travel frequently to London and stock up for several months.’
These are just some of the amazingly talented South America, Spanish and Latin beauty bloggers out there. Let us know if you know of any more on Twitter @_TRUEAfrica