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The global health and beauty industry is experiencing a revolution. With a market value estimated to hit £27 billion over the next five years, it’s riveting to see how the industry is changing and exciting to find out what is yet to come. With the advent of new media and technology, a record-breaking number of people are choosing to become their own bosses and this has led to more opportunities for ethnic minority brands to join the market. Here is our list of the best African-owned international health and beauty brands that you need to know.
The Afro Hair & Skin Co. is an independent afro beauty and wellness brand founded by Ibi Meier-Oruitemeka in 2016. The brand creates a holistic line of hair and skin products using organic, fresh and locally-sourced ingredients that are great for the skin and hair. Their goal is to provide black women with ethical, health-conscious, and all-natural beauty products specifically designed for Afro textured hair in all its forms, and skin care issues that result from having skin rich in melanin. Since their relatively recent launch, the brand has been listed by Vogue, as one of the best skin care ranges for and by people of colour.
Juvia’s Place is a fairly new brand on the beauty landscape, which has been making waves on the internet for a while now. Ever since its launch, the brand, owned by Nigerian Chichi Eburu, has been honoured with fantastic reviews by beauty enthusiasts and makeup junkies alike.
Juvia’s Place is a cosmetics brand that provides makeup lovers with vibrant and richly pigmented eyeshadow palettes, makeup tools and beauty essentials inspired by Africa. The idea for the brand came about after Eburu got tired of the lack of colourful makeup for black women that was suitable, affordable and wouldn’t make them look clown-like. She reveals that social media has been a great tool for the growth of the business and the brand’s success so far.
Her advice to other budding beauty entrepreneurs? “Don’t stop. Don’t give up.”
Iman Cosmetics is an internationally-recognised beauty brand that launched in 1994 in JCPenney. At the time, it was the first cosmetics and skincare collection designed for all women of colour that reflected many races, cultures and ethnicities.
When the famous supermodel and founder of Iman cosmetics, Iman Abdulmajid, was asked by Refinery29 whether she felt any adversity as a black woman when she first started her beauty brand, she said, “Yes! Everybody kept advising me to just create a ‘black’ line rather than for all women with skin of colour. In a way, trying to say to me to stay on my lane.” This was made even harder when retailers were apprehensive in stocking the products, assuming that it wouldn’t do well. However, Abdulmajid is happy to reveal that the foundation line, a challenging category for many women of colour, now accounts for 75 per cent of her overall sales.
MDM Flow is the brainchild of 26-year-old British-Nigerian Florence Adepoju, who, at the age of 18, decided to swap a place to study Pharmacy for Cosmetic Science at the London College of Fashion.
The brand is a culmination of her love of the colours black and gold, hip-hop, beauty, fashion and science and is influenced by mid 90s-00s glamour. Adepoju started the beauty brand after her undergraduate studies, mixing the ingredients from her lab in her parents’ garage of which she was able to fund through a government scheme called Start Up Loans.
House of Tara International is a beauty brand consisting of makeup products and a beauty school of African origin started by Tara Fela-Durotoye in 1998. At the time, she was a 20-year-old undergraduate creating the products from her living room. By 1999, she launched Nigeria’s first ever bridal directory and in 2004 she opened the country’s leading beauty academy with about 3,000 reps and 14 stores in Nigeria. In 2013, Fela-Durotoye was nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and as one of Forbes’ 20 Youngest Power African Women. Fela-Durotoye hopes to use the brand to build a globally respected beauty company of African origin
Heat Free Hair is the first manufacturer of Virgin Hair created specially to blend with Afro-textured, kinky, and curly hair. The brand provides several hair extensions in the form of wefted hair, clip-in extensions, and wigs.
The international brand was initiated in 2011 after its founder, Ngozi Opara, who was a hair stylist as well as a financial analyst at the time, was inspired by her clients who wanted their Afro hair to grow long and as healthy as hers. She realised a gap in the industry for textured hair that will match theirs in a protective style, and as such the idea for Heat Free Hair was born. In 2012, she moved to China to learn the entire hair manufacturing process and a year later their exclusive hair factory was open for business.
Ngozi Opara says the Heat Free Hair movement goes beyond the products, but also focuses on the education of the natural hair community through seminars and instructional videos as well as events for natural women to network with likeminded women.
Mixed Chicks is a beauty brand that focuses on hair products and accessories specially made for mixed race people, which are available online and in drugstores, beauty-supply stores, and Target.
The founders of Mixed Chicks, Wendi Levy and Kim Etheredge, had this to say when they were asked about what they set out to do differently in the beauty industry: “We set out to create a product for a hair type, not for a specific racial demographic. Many women have a combination of textures, not just one. Beauty products were designed for race instead of texture. We wanted to stump that notion and create an aisle that included many, if not all!”
In a world becoming more diverse, Mixed Chicks is a brand taking a step towards celebrating this diversity and working to put an end to separation of products in aisles by race.
What started as a personal experiment in mixing body butter and oils for scents by founder Lisa Price has today grown into an internationally recognised brand. Carol’s Daughter was born in 1993 after Price’s mother, Carol, encouraged her to sell her mixes at a church flea market, and by 1999 she opened her first boutique store in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn.
Today, Carol’s Daughter is a hair, body and skincare brand that caters to all women’s needs. The brand also joined L’Oreal in 2015, and in 2017 made history as the first natural haircare pioneer to exhibit in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
When Price was asked what has been her greatest success so far, she responded: “Taking one of the biggest risks ever and launching the brand at Target, while still maintaining a business in prestige. Risky, fraught with challenges, but I knew it had to be done. Best thing I ever did.”
Bôhten is an eco-friendly eyewear brand which uses reclaimed wood from Ghana manufactured in a zero-waste facility in Canada. The eyewear brand was founded by Nana Boateng Osei who was inspired by his Ghanaian roots, love of nature and his late grandfather, Andrew Hanson Osei, who was Ghana’s first land surveyor in the 60s, with a goal that pays “homage to a love of fashion without the loss of social responsibility.”
In addition to his environmentally-conscious manufacturing process, Osei works with Sightsavers, a UK-based charity that works to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion for people with disabilities. Through their ‘Impact of One’ partnership, Bôhten makes a donation for every pair of eyewear sold to Sightsavers’ work in countries like Ghana to prevent and cure blindness.
Bôhten’s mission is to establish an eyewear manufacturing supply chain on the African continent, through which they hope to change the face of Africa with a vision that advocates education, sustainable employment, social responsibility and environmental awareness in fashion globally.