Have you ever stopped to think where we would be without the beauty ingredients brought to us by the black culture? Shea butter? Cocoa butter? Argan oil? Rooibos tea? So much more? So, when a toddler cries because the world is slowly ingraining into her psyche that she is ugly because of her skin, it both breaks my heart and infuriates me.
Because, overarchingly, we should NOT be discriminating against people for any reason. Least of all their skin color.
Secondly, so much of what goes into feeding our complexions comes from the African cultures. And these are not just ingredients that are being used by black-owned beauty businesses. They are the central points for so many mainstream brands and we are enjoying them on a daily basis without even realising it. Drunk Elephant has built an entire brand based on Marula oil. Can you imagine The Body Shop without shea butter? And Clarins recently had a special extract formulated from the Katafray tree for its Double Serum.
So, let’s drop the discrimination NOW and get more intentional about our daily rituals. Every time you use one of these ingredients, think of the lives behind them. Of how our attitudes shape, define and vibrate through this world that we all inhabit collectively. Black lives matter. Our world would be far less beautiful without them in it, on so many levels.
These are a few black-rooted beauty ingredients I personally cannot do without. Tell me yours!
Soft, buttery and with 75% oleic acid (a fatty acid), Mafura oil is an excellent skin and hair hydrator. It is also anti-inflammatory and lightweight – perfect for nourishing the skin sans any greasiness.
Mined from Morocco’s lava fields, this reddish clay contains negatively charged ions that literally suck out blackheads, excess sebum and other debris out of skin pores. It’s also loaded with minerals that tone, calm and soften the skin, without drying it out like other clays. Plus, it’s also great for hair and scalp, since it sops up excessive oil, pollutant and product buildup.
Super-emollient and highly sought after for its ability to soothe dry, irritated and sensitive skin.
A food and beauty staple from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, cocoa butter is much valued in skincare because of its high fatty acid and antioxidant content. It’s excellent for smoothing out scars, wrinkles and pregnancy stretch marks, along with healing conditions like eczema and dermatitis.
Marula oil, which is beauty’s newest buzzword, is rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants and antibacterial compounds that help tackle a whole range of skin conditions, including acne, hyperpigmentation and premature ageing. It’s super-lightweight and easily absorbed, working even for congested complexions.
The oil from Kalahari melons has been long used in South Africa to protect skin from UV rays and is now increasingly cropping up in modern-day repair sun protection products. It also has high amounts of linoleic, oleic and palmitic essential fatty acids that help repair damaged skin.
Shea butter originally comes from Sub-Saharan Africa, where it has been used to nourish dry skin and hair for generations. It is super-high in fatty acids and other inflammation-reducing compounds, which make it a boon for dry, itchy and sensitive skin. And dry, brittle strands. One jar can complete your entire beauty regimen.
This red-hued tea is not only a healing beverage but is also great for treating acne, eczema, sun damage and other kinds of skin damage due to its zinc and alpha hydroxyl compounds.
Argan oil, which comes primarily from Morocco, contains a wealth of Vitamin E, fatty acids and antioxidants, which make it a great skin moisturiser and hair treatment.