For over 20 years, friends Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan have shared a deep love for natural hair and African beauty secrets. The two women, both based in London, attended college together and bonded over making homemade beauty products in their kitchens.
It all started when Abi would travel the world as a professional athlete. She would always bring back different natural products that she came across, but Liha especially loved the raw shea butter from Nigeria.
“We would whip up different things that friends and family loved,” Liha told Travel Noire. “After Abi’s second Olympics in 2012, she retired and a few years later we decided to take the plunge and launch with just two products, the Idan oil, and the shea butter.”
Liha Beauty was born soon after and caught the attention of U.S. Vogue which deemed the brand as ‘bottling Africa’s best-kept beauty secret.’ Since then the brand has seen a whirlwind of success and was picked up by online marketplaces like Le Bon Marché and Net-A-Porter.
“My dad is Nigerian and my mother is an English aromatherapist. In Yoruba culture, making cosmetics is something you learn at the same time as you learn to cook. I naturally started mixing the two influences. We make Idan oil, which is Yoruba for magic and can be used top to toe.”
In addition to the oil, the women also sell shea butter and a homemade black soap. The shea butter is sourced from Ghana and Nigeria and is made by women in cooperatives. In both cultures, shea butter is said to be ‘woman’s gold’ because west African women use it for everything from babies bums to wrinkles to cracked heels. A tuberose flower is immersed in every bottle and the warming, aphrodisiac qualities of its fragrance are absorbed into the coconut oil base.
The black soap is a remix of the classic Nigerian recipe made of plantain ash, shea, and coconut and then mixed with English rose essential oil, moringa, and hemp.
If you want to learn how to make your own cosmetic products using products in your kitchen, the two women offer workshops for that too.
“It is important to us to try to teach people to buy less, even in their beauty routines, which is why all of our products are multipurpose and we never use plastic in our packaging, Liha said.”
All products are designed with the traveler in mind and can easily be taken anywhere you go. Each item has a Yoruba name and is designed with Africa and the Diaspora in mind.
“It is a great way for black travelers to reconnect with their heritage and spirituality.”
The women plan to open stand-alone stores in the next year and then eventually expand to the U.S. Once things calm down from COVID-19, there are plans for a few pop-up shops around the globe.
To learn more about Liha Beauty or to purchase your products, you can visit the website www.lihabeauty.co.uk.
Read the article at Travelnoire.com