Out Of Africa: Beauty Companies Move To Add African Ingredients To Their Products

March 14, 2014  |  

Magatte Wade

More and more Americans are recognizing the beauty, culture and products from the African continent. As such, African oils and other natural ingredients have become hot-selling items.

Just ask Magatte Wade, who we’ve profiled. Wade had the idea of using ingredients traditionally favored by healers from her native Senegal for a line of fragrance and bath products. After working with a chemist and a French perfumer she created Tiossan. Nowadays, she’s being interviewed by one of the top newspapers in the country.

“The cream my healer makes is muddy and pasty and has a weird smell,” Wade, 37, who opened her first store in Hudson, N.Y., in 2012, told The New York Times. “You wouldn’t want to put it on your skin.” But by adding the traditional ingredients to her beauty products she has come up with a winning formula.

Wade was right on time with her idea. There has been a turn in the beauty industry from “chemical formulations to those based on botanical ingredients,” reports The Times. And many beauty giants are seeking African ingredients to spice up their products. Clarins already incorporates katafray, a tree extract from Madagascar, into its Double Serum ($85). Patyka has prickly pear oil from Morocco in its Supreme Defense Fluid ($90) and Colbert M.D. puts yangu, argan and marula oil in its Illumino Face Oil ($125).

Moroccanoil, a hair- and skin-care company that uses argan oil, has seen perhaps the biggest success with the trend. The brand gets its argan oil not just from Morocco, but the company’s popularity has fueled consumer desire for other raw materials from Africa, including baobab-tree extract (Korres Wild Rose and Face and Eye Serum, $41) and moringa seed oil (DryBar 100 Proof Treatment Oil, $35), and shea nut butter.

Even Jergens has adopted some African ingredients (shea nuts) and has gone further by pledging a donation to the African nonprofit Global Shea Alliance and has released a video about the women of Ghana who collect shea nuts. Jergens is onto something (below).

Then there are some who promote partnering with African entrepreneurs. Kanshi is an aromatherapy and body-care brand which will be sold in American stores this coming year. It is a joint venture btween Dzigbordi Dosoo in Ghana and Lydia Sarfati, the chief executive of Repêchage, a New Jersey-based skin care line.  Dosoo wold like to see an increase in companies who collaborate with African entrepreneurs instead of “fly into the country, talk to a few of the local people and take a picture.”

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