The Halo Code: First 'Afro hair code' to protect Black people from discrimination has launched in the UK

Here's everything you need to know about The Halo Code.

The Halo Code
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(Image credit: Brian Dowling / Contributor/Getty Images)

The UK has launched the Halo Code and taken one massive stride towards championing all Afro hairstyles. 

What is the Halo Code?

Founded by 30 young Black activists from social justice group The Advocacy Academy (opens in new tab) , the Halo Collective (opens in new tab) is campaigning to end hair discrimination.

The Hair Code is the first initiative created by the Collective and will involve a pledge, signed by schools and businesses, that promises members of the Black community that they have the "freedom and security to wear all afro-hairstyles without restriction or judgment". This includes any child who wishes to wear their hair however they choose to in school.

Does hair discrimination still exist?

Yes, sadly it does. And, it remains something that many people have to contend with on a daily basis.

Race-based hair discrimination has been illegal in the UK since the Equalities Act became law in 2010, but it is still a regular occurrence.

In fact, 58% of Black students have experienced name-calling or uncomfortable questions about their hair at school, and 1 in 5 Black women feel societal pressure to straighten their hair for work - according to research from World Afro Day and De Montfort University.

Katiann Rocha, the 16-year-old co-founder of the Halo Code, described how her hair had been called "messy", "unkempt" and "wild" on a BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat programme.

"The Halo Code will allow for black people to be fully accepted in an environment that celebrates their natural hair and styles, because we've been discriminated against it for so long," she says.

This discrimination is altogether more startling now that Afro hair is the beauty industry's influencer - and big economic driver.

"More and more black consumers are moving away from heat straightening and chemically relaxing their hair, and are embracing their true texture," says Vernon Francois (opens in new tab), hairstylist to Lupita Nyong'O and Kerry Washington. 

With this new approach comes an increase in demand for products. Enter the Curly Girl Method (opens in new tab)and the best brushes for curly hair (opens in new tab)

In the UK alone, the black hair industry is worth an estimated £88 million, with black women spending six times more on hair care than their white counterparts. Meanwhile, the US market for black haircare is estimated to be valued at a staggering $2.5 billion.

Unilever UK, parent company of Dove, has become the first employer to adopt the Halo Code, with more schools and companies to be announced in the coming weeks.

So President Biden if you didn't get the memo already, lets adopt the Halo Code in the US, too, and put an end to hair discrimination once and for all.

Fiona Embleton is a multi-award-winning beauty editor who has tested over 10,000 products in her 10 years +  of writing and shooting beauty stories. For the past four years, she was the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, having previously worked in the role of Beauty Editor at both Stylist and Cosmopolitan. She has recently gone freelance and alongside My Imperfect Life, she has written for titles including ELLE UK, ELLE Canada, Buro 247, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Vogue Scandinavia, and ES Magazine. Beauty journalism allowed her to marry up her first-class degree in English Literature and Language (she’s a stickler for grammar and a self-confessed ingredients geek) with a passion for make-up and skincare, photography, and catwalk trends. She loves jumping on the latest internet-breaking beauty news, dissecting the best red carpet looks, and having the crème de la crème of dermatologists, make-up artists, and hairstylists on speed dial so she can tap them for the best advice. She’s a discerning beauty shopper and knows it can be confusing trying to navigate what’s hype and what really works. So if she really likes something, you can trust that she has reached that opinion by vetting it against everything else she’s ever tried. Her career highs? Interviewing Cate Blanchett and winning a Jasmine Award for the deeply personal feature Cancer Stole My Mother’s Scent.