The 5 Best Accessible Hair-Care Products, According To This Beauty Influencer With A Disability

When it comes to inclusivity and representation, the beauty industry has seen incredible progress (see: Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and its 40-shade range of foundation or Deepica Mutyala’s Live Tinted and its multi-use, friendly-for-all-skin-tones Huesticks in 2017) across cosmetics, hair care, and skin care. Despite how frustrating (and painfully slow) change can be, the industry is, in fact, moving in a direction that’s more embracing of varying skin tones, hair textures, genders, ages, ethics, and budgets. But weak spots still very much exist in beauty, especially when it comes to disability representation.
Shelby Lynch, a 25-year-old model, influencer, and disability activist based in the U.K., experiences this daily, specifically when it comes to hair. “As a disabled POC, I find it very difficult to [create] different styles with my natural hair because I’m unable to do it myself,” she tells Refinery29. Lynch was born with spinal muscular atrophy type 2, a neuromuscular disorder that causes muscle weakness and breathing issues. (Lynch uses a ventilator and an electric wheelchair.) 
“There’s a stigma [in beauty] about disabled people — we don’t like to look pretty or attractive, for example — when, in reality, that’s far from the truth,” she says. “Disabled people like to look after their appearance as well, and it would be so much easier if packaging [and products] were more accessible.” Right now, Lynch chooses to wear her hair in braids for ease, taking them out to wash her hair with a moisture-restoring shampoo and coconut-scented conditioner when needed.
In addition to accessible packaging and products, disability representation in marketing (namely beauty campaigns) is also key, Lynch says. “[It’s not about] just including the ‘token disabled person,’ though — we also need disabled people of all intersectionalities. So, if there’s a hair-care advert on TV, it would be amazing to see a disabled POC who is bisexual, as an example.” And that’s precisely Lynch’s goal as a beauty and fashion influencer who has nearly half a million followers on TikTok and almost 40,000 on Instagram. “I hope to represent those who don’t feel represented.” 
With support from Ulta Beauty, Lynch curated a list of her favorite accessible hair-care products, from ergonomic brushes and fast-heating styling tools to travel-sized shampoos and conditioners that get the job done without exhausting her muscles. See (and shop) her go-to hair picks, below.

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