Style

6 Independent African Beauty Brands That Will Make You Feel Fabulous

In the first of our holiday gift guides we take a look at these independent African beauty products.

This is the first of our gift guides in the run-up to the holidays. Keep checking for more lists of great African products here. And for more ideas check out the Okayafrica Shop


A number of entrepreneurs are leading Africa’s burgeoning beauty industry from Kenya to Nigeria, Senegal to South Africa, and in many cities in between. Though the business is attracting larger, international players, like L’Oreal, there are plenty of newer brands looking to break the traditional beauty mold, and are doing a great job of it.

If you’re wondering how you can do it up for the holidays or what to get a friend or special someone as a gift, these 5 brands are independent African makers who are creating some amazing products.

1. True Moringa

Started by Kwami Williams and Emily Cunningham, a rocket science and an economics major, respectively, in collaboration with MIT’s D-Lab in Ghana, True Moringa works with small farming families to harvest seeds from Moringa Oleifera trees. The seed’s oil is then used to create cosmetic products for a variety of uses, such as this paraben and sulfate-free hair treatment oil, suitable for all hair types. Basically, it won’t look like you just doused yourself with a bottle of L.A. Looks.

Get True Moringa on Amazon here

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2. African Naturalistas

Nigerian entrepreneur Atilola Moronfolu's African Naturalistas Leave-In Conditioner is excellent for applying to a dry scalp after a long day at the beach, or you know, just because you like you hair silky smooth. With a combination of olive, jojoba, and coconut oils, aloe vera, and sulfate-free goodness, what could be better?

Buy African Naturalistas on Jumia here

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3. Elsaspro

For those who prefer a little color on their lips, Abuja, Nigeria’s Elsaspro, started by Amaka Okeke, has a selection of sticks suited for all skin types and colors. If you’re not into the 2016 fall goth-inspired lip trend, try Elsaspro’s Berry 03 Matte Lipstick, which is dark enough to feel like you tried, but still bright enough to go with all of your favorite clothes.

Get Elsaspro Lipstick from their website here

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4. Tiossan

Hailing from Dakar, the serial entrepreneur Magatte Wade, named one of “20 Youngest Power Women in Africa” by Forbes in 2013, has developed her own line of only-natural-ingredients skincare and lifestyle products, Tiossan. If you're suffering from poor sleeping habits, try the Beauty Sleep Pillow Mist with lavender and orange flower oils to calm you down. Need a nice gift? Tiossan’s Femme Parfum, with notes of ylang-ylang, rose, white musk, jasmine, and amber, among other considered scents, will surely be appreciated.

Get Tiossan Products at their website, here

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5. Liha

The U.K.-based, Nigerian cool-girl team Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan recently launched the 100-percent vegan line, Liha, and debuted their first few products, including the instant hit of raw Shea Butter, made from ethically sourced Ghanaian and Nigerian Shea tree nuts. Over the past few months, the brand has expanded into more than five countries and a number of stockists. Feeling a little gritty? Wipe off those dry, dead skin cells with Liha’s Ose Gidi African black soap, that also uses Shea butter, Moringa, as well as African Palmarosa.

Get Liha Products at their website, here

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6. Malée

Malée, named after founder Zeze Oriaikhi-Sao’s great grandmother, is a South African luxury body care line with products like the Conditioning Body Scrub that uses the scents of citrus, mint and patchouli to give the user the sensation of standing inside of a tropical forest. You’ll also find mango and shea seed oils, as well as salt and sugar crystals, to ensure the scrub does double duty.

Get Malée Products at their website, here

More on the Okayafrica Shop

Interview
Photo: Lex Ash (@thelexash). Courtesy of Simi.

Interview: Simi Is Taking Risks

Nigerian star Simi talks about the successes & risks of this year, her thoughts on the #EndSARS protests, and how her husband, Adekunle Gold, inspired Restless II.

Simi is restless. It has nothing to do with the year she has had, in fact, she reaffirmed her status as one of Nigeria's most successful musicians with a single music drop, "Duduke," which enjoyed widespread appeal as the nation went into lockdown earlier in the year.

The 32-year-old singer's restlessness is a reflection of the organised chaos that has defined her recording process this year as she combined the rigours of being an expectant mother with an examination of her place in the wider world. It, more accurately, reflects her re-negotiation of the parameters of her stardom.

"I've never really been a big fan of the spotlight," she whispers silently early in our Zoom conversation. "I know that it comes with the territory, but when I got my big break and more people started to recognise me, I realised that I had to edit myself, my life, and most of the things that I'd do or say because I wanted to be careful to keep a part of me for myself."

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