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Ingredient Origins: Black Haircare

Naturally nourishing, naturally beautiful

Curly, coily and textured hair types have one very important thing in common: they thrive on natural, mega moisturizing ingredients. We’ll introduce you to ingredients that have seriously deep roots from main ingredients in dishes to Black haircare. In fact, these ingredients are so impressive, they’re still used in many culinary delights and cosmetics to this day.

Shea butter

Thick, rich and easily absorbed into the hair shaft, ultra-moisturizing shea butter has been a cosmetic fave for centuries, dating back to Ancient Egypt. It’s no secret that even Cleopatra used to keep shea butter stored in jars in its pure, unrefined form so it was always within reach. And it’s no wonder she relied on this gorgeous moisturizer: today, it’s still considered a staple in Black haircare and is one of the most popular and effective ingredients that helps keeps curls and coils soft and manageable.

Native to East and West Africa, you’ll find shea butter in so many skin and haircare products, because of how compatible it is with our own skin’s sebum (that’s the oil your skin naturally produces). This means that not only is shea butter an ultra-moisturizing powerhouse, but when it’s combined with other active ingredients, it’s known to help them be absorbed by your skin and hair, too, making it a perfect ingredient for anyone in need of a healthy dose of hydration.

Our fair trade shea butter is sourced from the Ojoba Women’s Shea Cooperative in Ghana.

A woman carries a bin of shea nuts on her head as other women work in the background.

Okra

While no one is entirely certain where this sometimes-green-sometimes-greenish-yellow vegetable comes from—there’s some debate about its origins being somewhere in South Asia, Ethiopia and/or West Africa—one thing they can all agree on is how versatile it is. Cultivated around the 19th century, it has so many vitamins, nutrients and benefits that okra has been a staple in African cooking since its discovery.

That gel-like texture okra is known for? That often comes out as part of the boiling process when cooking, and for haircare that mucilage (the gel-like stuff) is perfect for softening, conditioning and moisturizing textured hair. It’s quietly becoming a star in more haircare products, because it’s magnesium-rich, so as you work it through your hair, it coats the shaft to provide great slip for easier manageability and detangling. When okra combines with water, the mucilage reduces friction between strands to keep curls and coils super smooth and frizz-free without sacrificing definition.

Sweet potato

Just like shea butter and okra, sweet potatoes have been a nutritious part of many diets for centuries. Cultivated roughly 5,000 years ago in the tropical Americas, talk of sweet potato’s goodness spread. They’re one of the oldest vegetables and while you might be most familiar with them in pies, as fries, or mashed up all sweet and nice, these orange powerhouses are stacked with omega 3s, fatty acids, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, E and K, and biotin.

So, how did sweet potatoes find their place in skin and haircare? Well, sweet potato hair masks aren’t exactly new, and when you’re loaded with so many good nutrients, it’s hard not to be so useful. Rich in protein, the biotin in sweet potatoes is an essential nutrient that promotes hair growth, and when you work a reparative shampoo or conditioner through your hair from scalp to tip and then let it sit for a few, biotin goes to work to help strengthen the hair follicle helping damaged or stressed out hair be its best self. Pretty sweet, right?

When it comes to finding the right ingredients to help you get the best out of your curls, coils and textured hair, everyone’s hair is a little different. If you’re not sure where to start, our customer care team will happily guide you, or you can book an online consultation to learn even more about the gorgeous natural ingredients that natural hair loves.