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Upset by Shea moisture? Turn to these Nigerian beauty brands

By Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo
29 April 2017   |   3:40 am
This was the week Shea Moisture, hot on the heels of Pepsi and United Airlines, brought on themselves pubic humiliation with their latest ad campaign.

This was the week Shea Moisture, hot on the heels of Pepsi and United Airlines, brought on themselves pubic humiliation with their latest ad campaign.

The intended message was, “Break free from hair hate,” but loyal customers felt SheaMoisture had whitewashed their campaign with the use of two Caucasian women, and one biracial woman, all boasting what many called “good hair.”

Even after the company’s apology on social media, comments have flooded in with accusations of white-washing the brand and silencing posters by blocking them or deleting their comments as well as calls for boycotting the brand.

While I agree that Shea Moisture made a big boo-boo by alienating their core audience in a bid to reach a new market, perhaps a call for boycotting the products of a brand who has served black women for so many year is a touch too heavy-handed.

However, regardless of whether you’re feeling let down by Shea Moisture, it’s important to remember we have quite a number of homegrown brands to invest in, and which will most likely never fall foul of us as proudly Nigerian brands.

The Kinky Apothecary
After training as a chartered accountant and years of working in the corporate world, Nigerian naturalista Nibi Lawson was looking for a way to unleash pent up creativity. Following the attention and questions her natural hair attracted, identifying a gap in the market, she launched Nigeria’s first one-stop natural hair shop in 2010.

“Our main focus is to educate people about their natural hair, which is why our product sales have always gone hand in hand with education, be it through blog posts (admittedly less frequently now), small workshops or larger events,” says Nibi. It was this concept that birthed Nigeria’s first ever expo dedicated to natural hair, the Nigerian Natural Hair & Beauty Show in 2015.

Their best-selling product is The Kinky Apothecary Whipped Batter, a great head to toe butter which is a blend of shea butter, aloe vera and a number of other oils. “I use it for sealing in moisture or as a twisting product. It is also a great body butter, and a customer told me the other day that she uses it as a lip balm!” Nibi says.

Olori Cosmetics
Toyin Odulate had the concept and idea for an African-themed hair, bath and body line for over 15 years, but with a hectic professional career over the years, she only got around to actually launching the company in 2015 inspired by global brands such as The Body Shop and Carol’s Daughter.

Obsessed with beauty and cosmetics, Toyin – whose grandfather was the creator of Alabukun, the famed and iconic drug – tooks inspiration from her mother and grandmother used to mix different concoctions to help manage our natural hair.

“The recipes for the formulas for our bestselling products have been in my family for generations. So using age old therapies and remedies is what we do in my family, and having access to that wealth of knowledge definitely sets the Olori brand apart from its competitors,” Toyin says.

The bestseller and pillar product, the DamageBeGone Deep Conditioning & Restorative Treatment. The range has been extended to include our new Conditioning Shampoo with Argan Oil & our Happy Hair Butter for daily application for protective styles such as braids and cornrows.

Emmaus Beauty
Founder Aminah Sagoe began her career as a financial analyst before pursuing her true passion – hair and beauty and partnering up with a very good friend and opened an upscale hair and beauty supply boutique in Lagos.

Emmaus was birthed in 2015 out of a personal need to heal the common skin condition Keratosis Pilaris (KP), also known as “chicken skin.” Approximately 40% of adults, and 60% of adolescents in the US have this non-contagious, non-life threatening condition, which there isn’t a cure for.

Aminah discovered that many of the ingredients in products she had been using were toxic and contained carcinogens. In seeking a natural solution to help her KP symptoms and also help the many others dealing with KP, she took the matter into her hands.

The unique combination of ingredients found in Emmaus products helps with not only KP, but also a variety of other skin conditions including body acne, ingrown hairs, uneven complexions, scaly/dry skin, and even mild Eczema and Psoriasis.

Most effective when used as a 3-step programme most of the customers, including designer Lanre Da Silva Ajayi and brand ambassador Michelle Dede, use all three products.

Namaste Organics
London Guildhall University International Politics graduate, “a Yogi, a mum and a self-confessed tree hugger”, Lolade Cameron-Cole is the CEO and Creative Director of Nigeria’s popular natural beauty brand which was born in 2009 as a ‘desperate measure’.

“I had just had a baby, and at six months, he suffered from various skin ailments. It was a sort of fungus that grew on his skin as a result of excessive sweating; the result being dry, itchy skin and great discomfort to him to the point of tears.” Lolade recalls.

She was advised by a pharmacist to try Shea butter; ironically Lolade made Shea butter cream already as she was taught by her grandmother, but hadn’t thought of using it to treat her son’s condition. The gratitude of rediscovering Shea butter and African black soap and their wonders on the hair and skin led the entrepreneur to name the brand Namaste, a form of welcome in Hindi; my spirit welcomes the spirit in you.

“I believe the uniqueness of our brand comes from the simplicity of our ingredients by keeping the list short. We also try as much as possible to use locally sourced key ingredients, containers and branding and also to keep our products as natural as possible,” Lolade says.

Some the bestselling products include Aloe Vera hair growth elixir, herbal hair oil, Carrot Avocado oil.

R&R Luxury
A PR Professional with over a decade and a half in the industry, After moving to Nigeria in 2009, Valerie Obaze worked as PR Consultant to some of the largest names in African fashion and retail before launching her natural skincare & home fragrance brand, R&R Luxury in 2010.

It was only after the birth of her child she Valerie became very aware of the lack of natural skincare products on the market and took to using pure olive oil to moisturise her newborn baby’s skin. Following a chance encounter with a Ghanaian massage therapist who used melted Shea butter for her treatment and the R&R journey began, the name paying homage to her little girl Rebecca-Rose.

‘R&R also conveniently stands for ‘rest & recuperation’ which also perfectly captures the essence of the brand,” Valerie adds, “Natural skincare is by no means a new concept, but at R&R what we promise to do is bring you pure, unadulterated products made from the finest ingredients Africa has to offer, sourcing raw materials from the best farms and suppliers, created locally, packaged beautifully and made available to everyone.”

R&R Luxury opened it’s first shop in Lagos suburb Lekki in July 2013 and subsequently launched nationwide sales when it’s online shop went live in August of 2015.

Our firm favourite with the customers is R&R Shea Luxury Body Oil, made from liquid Shea butter and pure essential oil blends; hot on its heels comes R&R Shea Luxury Liquid black Soap.