Where Are the Beauty Sponsorships in Women's Basketball?
On April 2, the NCAA Women's Basketball National Championship game aired to much fanfare. With 9.9 million people watching from all over the country, according to The Athletic, Louisiana State University beat the University of Iowa by 17 points. The conversations that followed were about sportsmanship, double standards, and even Angel Reese's choice of eyelash extensions. To the latter point, there's a bigger question that needs to be addressed: where are the beauty sponsorships in women's college basketball?
It's a long-standing question that has yet to get real answers, but the point stands. Fans have consistently been wondering how professional athletes can play full games in false eyelashes, hair extensions, and acrylic nails, yet so few beauty companies seem to take notice. It's not forbidden, either: as of 2021, NCAA athletes can now receive compensation in exchange for licensing of their name, image, and likeness. Yet only one brand since — Starface Beauty — has made it a point to work with college-age players. So what exactly is the holdup?
Some small Black-owned businesses are stepping up to address the glaring missed opportunities. Fresh off of LSU's win on Sunday, all details surrounding Reese's half-up, half-down hairstyle were revealed. It turns out that during the game, she was wearing Cruz Texture's 30-inch Raw Curly Hair Extensions, a style she's had since January, courtesy of the brand. WNBA player Lexie Brown, another Cruz Hair ambassador, cosigned the company, tweeting: "the hair is bomb. perfect for ladies with active lifestyles." It didn't take long for the masses to jump on the bandwagon, declaring they'll be purchasing the hair as soon as they can. While the extensions aren't available to shop just yet, it's safe to say there are eager customers ready to spend.
The reason Cruz Textures was able to drum up so much organic press is because it was plugged into the moments that matter. Too often, beauty brands exclusively rely on big, drawn-out campaign shoots that they can roll out on a preplanned timeline, but in the world of women's sports, there's so much opportunity to win.
Yes, sports are unpredictable. A brand can never be sure with 100 percent certainty that its sponsored talent will come out on top, but what they can do is spotlight the players their customer base is already watching. That way, when you get an Angel Reese who leads her team to victory in a championship game, you have a walking advertisement and eager fans waiting to get their piece of the Bayou Barbie's look — and the campaigns end up writing themselves.