Juneteenth: Celebrating Clean Beauty Brands Whose Founders Have African Lineage

by Karim Orange
Nyakio Baobab

Many ingredients in clean beauty products come from Africa. Shea butter, argan oil, moringa oil, baobab, marula oil and more are examples of gorgeous and effective botanicals from this beauty-rich continent. 

In fact, the culture and traditions of Africa have influenced almost every aspect of the modern-day “wellness” umbrella. Sage burning? South Africans used this in many ritual ceremonies as well as for traditional healing. Let’s not forget the northern African queen of Egypt, Cleopatra. It was written that she used a cream made with rose water and beeswax to maintain her beautiful complexion. Beauty traditions from Africa--along with art, music and culture--have influenced other lands by way of the African Diaspora (specifically the movement of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic). Here are several beauty brands, with must-have products, whose founders are descendants of Africa. 

nyakio 

The owner, Nyakio Kamoche Grieco, was born in The United States, but visited Kenya often. There she learned beauty from her grandmother. When she was eight years old, the two would crush Kenyan coffee beans and add oils to make a paste for the skin. Nyakio also learned how to exfoliate dry skin using coffee beans and sugarcane. 

Her eponymous beauty line was created based on the traditional knowledge she learned at a young age and her passion for beauty. After researching the beauty industry she felt that many cultures were represented, but the sophistication of Africa was missing. The nyakio products are a curated blend of traditions from 13 countries. All ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced. 

nyakio product family

SheaMoisture

SheaMoisture was originally sold at the market in Sierra Leone by Sofi Tucker in 1912. Her daughter and her grandson, Richelieu Dennis, brought it to New York City in 1991, and sold it on the street. This brand is considered a classic in the African-American community. It’s easy to find, it’s affordable and the natural ingredients are sourced from Africa. 

SheaMoisture soon found its way into places like Target and Whole Foods Market, but it never abandoned its community roots. In 2017, Sundial brands (the parent company that  owns SheMoisture) was acquired by Unilever in 2017 for 1.5 billion. The CEO of Unilever, Cara Sabin,  is an African American woman.  

SheaMoisture Collection

Laws of Nature Cosmetics

This clean makeup brand launched in 2015 to provide women of color with a full range of high-performance makeup. The brand features foundation sticks, cream-to-powder compacts, loose mineral powders, concealers, and more. Jasmine Rose, who is African American, created Laws of Nature Cosmetics after her mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. After research, she started to understand the links between harmful ingredients and the disease. After transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, she found it difficult to find clean makeup in her shade. She decided to create her own and never looked back. 

Laws of Nature Cosmetics

CD Beauty Cosmetics

Created by African American and Italian celebrity makeup artist and brow guru Christopher Drummond, CD Beauty Cosmetics will simply give you as he puts it ‘the worlds best brow’. With 6 custom brow products, you will have everything you need to sculpt the best brow (this also includes tweezers). The products are all vegan, cruelty-free, and work on all skin shades and types. The brand has also has a Superfruit Brow Serum, which is made from 100 percent organic ingredients. 

CD Beauty Cosmetics

Sacred Seeds 

The brand was created out of necessity by Jennifer Perry,  an African-American woman from New York. Having sensitive skin, she was challenged to find products that didn’t irritate. Perry started blending ingredients together in her kitchen and created her own. People started to notice how great her skin looked, and Sacred Seeds was born. The products are an Afro-Caribbean blend of ingredients: chocolate from St. Lucia; coffee and brown sugar from Jamaica and shea and cocoa butter from Ghana. 

Jennifer has a strong commitment to sustainably sourced ingredients after witnessing what she feels is “exploitation within the beauty industry.” This is where many companies source ingredients from Africa and the Caribbean, repackage them with chemical additives, and sell an inferior product back to customers, marketed with labels like “natural.” Her brand is a favorite amongst black celebrities. 

Sacred Seeds

Today is Juneteeth. According to Juneteenth.Com, “This is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863.” 

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