Hotels tend to market their rooms as a home away from home or the embodiment of opulence—both emphasising a particular comfort.
Seemingly doing well, the global hotel industry was worth US$570 billion in 2019. However, there is always room for improvement, and, with the world becoming more globalised, people from all around the world cross paths with hotels that fail to meet their needs—especially people of colour.
Of the hotel amenities that fall short, sanitary necessities top the list. Hotels can no longer rely on generic soaps and lotions to properly serve their guests, as there are a variety of skin and hair types that all have different needs.
This is not to say hotels must cater to every variant, but they must look into how these products are made to ensure that they do not impose avoidable harm or side effects to the user. Doing this will make the majority of guests feel included and comfortable when using hotel products.
Shampoos and Conditioners
These products have sparked plenty of controversy in the hotel industry, to the point that people have called the issue out on social media platforms. Since most public figures are accommodated by affluent hotels, seeing hotels of that calibre being found deficient in providing good shampoo and conditioner speaks volumes about the industry.
The general view of hotel shampoo and conditioner is that they're bad for most hair types; they dry out hair prone to dryness and foster grease on an oily scalp. Most curlier textures—the hair type of most people of colour—tend to possess these characteristics. Natural oils produced for the hair struggle to travel down curlier hair strands, so they tend to sit on the scalp, leaving the strands dry. The shampoo is meant to cleanse the build-up of oils, while the conditioner is to restore moisture to the strands.
The products found in hotels are infamous for causing drier and more brittle hair. Dry and brittle hair is prone to irreversible breakage, which can cause split ends and stifle length retention. What hotels can do is find hair-cleansing products with more natural ingredients than preservative chemicals that can cleanse build-up and restore moisture.
Hotels providing hairdryers have been a great convenience; it means more space in the luggage and doing hair regimens without a hassle. However, they've recently been criticised for hygienic concerns because the hairdryers are apparently as mucky as public restrooms.
The issues don't end there, as these petite hairdryers cause heat damage, too. Since the heat cannot be adjusted, guests have no choice but to blanch their hair after using less than ideal shampoos and conditioners, which furthers breakage.
Some hair types can deal with the onslaught of heat, but curlier textures found in people of colour require more attentiveness. That is why the ability to add attachments—like diffusers—to hotel hairdryers needs to be up for discussion. Providing diffusers is another topic, but providing hairdryers that can fit the average size attachment will go a long way.
Coming out of a shower with dried skin to use hotel lotion seems to be a routine for disappointment. The lotions hardly moisturise the skin and are filled with fragrances that can cause irritation and potential breakouts.
Most skin types don't fare well with fragrances now that they are in the thin lotions provided in hotels. Their only benefit is that they smell good.
Adding different kinds of butter to lotion formulas can resolve this issue, allowing lotions to carry a fragrance and effectively moisturise the skin. Shea butter and Cocoa butter are good kinds to consider.
Hair comes in different shapes, sizes and lengths, and it grows in a variety of ways, so it's safe to say that the average 20-25 cm shower cap won't do. Hair types with less volume have got along well with the standard size, but with the emergence of a culture that embraces voluminous hair types like that of people of colour, it just won't do.
Curlier hair grows upwards, and when it is wet, it can shrink to a third of its original length, which introduces a whole host of problems such as tangles and knots. Wearing a sizable shower cap that hotels are encouraged to consider, rather than the assumed one-size-fits-all shower cap, can prevent shrinkage. A small range will go a long way.
The effort of providing hair tools is much appreciated, but they are unusable due to their narrow teeth. Such combs can only aid fine hairs, which the average person does not have. The thickness of hair strands and density of hair on the scalp differ from person to person and all over a person's head. Using thin-toothed combs can cause unnecessary breakage and tangles. Curlier hair types get the short end of the stick because grazing coils and kinks with a thin-toothed comb is a recipe for disaster, especially on dry hair.
Hotels should consider combs with wider teeth as they are the best types to use on wet hair for all hair types and are the star tool on curlier hair. Some products have various teeth widths combined on one comb, which is more convenient than providing many tools.
Hotels are an embodiment of hospitality and should strive to evolve the way they serve guests by paying attention to their differences. The one-size-fits-all mentality is going out of style, and significant attention to details is being championed because it exudes hospitality and a gratuity for a guest's stay.