Five Organic West African Beauty Brands You Should Know


West African and diaspora skin and hair-care brands are tapping into the rich, natural ingredients, in the region.

Working with local producers to produce authentic shea butter creams and luxurious black soaps for nourishing and protecting the hair and skin, brands are not only supplying healthy lotions with sustainable and aromatic ingredients to their consumer base; they are also ensuring that farmers and the communities that they work in benefit too.

Here are five brands celebrating and embracing home-grown expertise and crops.

Natural Nigerian

Established in 2011, Natural Nigerian began as a natural hair blog giving readers access to information and stories specific to Nigerians. Since its inception, the company has expanded and now produces hair and skincare products with natural and scientifically-tested ingredients for women, men and children. This all female-owned business is “inspired by Beauty, sourced from Nature, and Baked by Science”. It leverages Nigeria’s ethnobotanical ingredients, celebrating Nigerian culture and supporting local farmers. Certified by Ecocert and COSMOS, Natural Nigerian is the first company to use Red Acalypha – an evergreen shrub.


Receiving the Best Made in Nigeria Product of the Year from EbonyLife TV, Ifeyinwa Ojekwe’s handmade skin-care brand, Ajali, has made a successful mark on the industry in Nigeria. Founded in 2013, the name of the company means “red earth” or “sand” in the Igbo language, emphasising the company’s philosophy of using pure, natural and native ingredients. Ingrained with a vision to promote a healthy and alternative body and skin-care products, Ajali utilises high quality, cold-press natural plant oils, organic butter, herbs and clays that are sustainably sourced. The products are cruelty-free, mostly vegan, and made in Nigeria. Promoting fair trade and a healthy business revenue, 50 per cent of the ingredients come from Nigeria or nearby West African countries. All products are free from toxins, parabens, mineral oils, BPA, paraffin, synthetic emulsifiers, colourings and preservatives.


The Ghanaian brand Kaeme (“forget me not or remember me” in the Twi language) specialises in premium shea butter and liquid black soap. The shea butter and black soap are handcrafted, raw, and unrefined. Kaeme collaborates with a women’s cooperative in Northern Ghana to source its ingredients. The company uses pure carriers and essential oils to make unique and chemical-free skincare items that hydrate, nurture and protect the skin. Customers can choose from a variety of scents, and fragrance-free products are available for sensitive skin types.

Shea Yeleen

Formed in 2005, this brand empowers women in West Africa and the United States. Shea Yeleen creates organic, ethical, and fair trade skincare products which promote microenterprise development amongst women.

Some ingredients include shea butter, chamomile flower, cocoa pods and coconut oil. The organic shea butter is extracted from seeds found in the Shea or Karite nuts located in West Africa and Central sub-Saharan Africa. The fruit works as an antioxidant and contains vitamins A, E and F which nourish the skin.

As a social enterprise, Shea Yeleen pays the women who produce the ingredients a fair price.  For all its good qualities this company is socially-conscious as well, desiring to “create a global community” and help develop communities where they have business partners.

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When we say we love our whole line of Shea products, we really mean it. Not just because they’re ours but because we know how much thought, research and effort went into making a perfect formula. . Even though we are proud to talk about our main line, we are always excited to share info about our spa line at MGM. We love that we can offer luxury skincare for those that want a little extra special something on their night table! The spa line not only comes in a variety of unique scents like Tobacco Vanilla and Bourbon Citrus, but it has an awesome ingredient, Yerba Mate Extract. Yerba Mate comes from South America and contains a natural caffeine that helps depuff, prevent fine lines, and promotes cellular regeneration! . If you want to see what this ingredient and our creams, balms, and polishes (scrubs) are all about, this weekend is a perfect time to take a trip to the relaxing and beautiful @mgmnationalharbor spa!! #relaxatmgm . . . . . . . . #sheayeleen #shea #organic #organicingredients #holisticlifestyle #beautyblogger #naturalskincare #nontoxicbeauty #nontoxicbeauty #fightfreeradicals #feelgood #wellness #nontoxic #skincare #veganbeauty #healthandbeauty #antiaging #greenskincare #organicskincare #organicbeauty #toxicfreeliving #glowfromwithin #naturalistas #summerglow #glowingskin #healthyskin #healthyglow #hydratedskin #healthandwellness

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Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan are the brains behind British-Nigerian skincare line, Liha. Created in 2015, the former Olympic athlete, Oyepitan, and art book publisher, Okunniwa, experimented with a prototype product which proved popular amongst friends, encouraging the duo to establish the brand as a business. The African black soap is handmade by artisans and the company sell pure golden shea butter obtained from southern Nigeria. Speaking to online Vogue, Okunniwa spoke about the DIY nature of the brand and the use of home made ingredients in the experimental stages of the company. “I think the idea that you can use what’s in your kitchen and improvise with your routine is very African…”.

Liha is 100% vegan, cruelty-free and free of parabens, and chemicals.

These organic skin and hair-care brands make the most of West Africa’s natural properties and reinforce the entrepreneurial as well as artisan spirit of the region. Support them, try them and tell your friends about them.