The Interview: Ibi Founder of The Afro Hair & Skin Co

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I caught up with the founder of The Afro Hair and Skin Co Ibi, she has created an amazing brand based in the UK, check out what she had to say below....

Tell us a little about yourself? 

Hello! My name is Ibi and I’m a former Londoner turned seaside dwelling mum of one, trying to live a more stripped back and rooted lifestyle. Beauty rituals are one indulgence that I wont be giving up anytime soon though. I’ve been obsessed with skincare since I was a child. For me these have always been my moments of escapism and meditation that I find are necessary to my wellbeing,  it helps me to connect to my inner creativity, find my balance and leave me feeling good. Life can be unnecessarily grinding so I really believe in the importance of treating yourself and others with kindness and love as a route to finding some bliss. You might call me a hippy haha.

What is the Afro Hair & Skin Company all about? 

In its essence, The Afro Hair & Skin Co. is green beauty for health-conscious brown beauties. Our vibe is natural, eco-friendly and holistic, as we don't believe that beauty should come at the expense of our health or the planet.
So, we make potent beautiful hair and skincare that is not only effective at taking care of our physical needs but also helps to support our emotional wellbeing. We create products that leave your hair and skin beautiful and healthy. But that also help on a sensory level to elevate our mood and either prepare us mentally for the day ahead or ground, centre and relax us after a long day.

I love The Afro Hair & Skin Co. tell us what prompted you to start the company? 

Thanks for the love! The idea for The Afro Hair & Skin Co. came to me back in 2011. I'd recently returned to the UK after 4 years working in Sweden. During that time I experienced a lifestyle shift and I was becoming more conscious of my health and overall state of wellbeing, and actively making choices to improve on it. I had little to no access to good quality beauty products, that where not packed with chemicals and met the specific needs of my hair texture and melanin rich skin. I faced the same issues on moving back to the UK. This led me to start looking into alternative ingredients that would be beneficial to my needs. Over time I really simplified everything and focused on high quality natural ingredients. I felt that it was crazy that there was so little access to high quality black products that were effective, eco-friendly and healthy to use, so I decided to create them.
I love that you are dedicated to black beauty, how has AH&SC been received by the community?
So far the response has been awesome! I'm so grateful and excited for all the support we've recieved since the launch. You really don’t know how people will take to your ideas until you start. So far I've had nothing but encouragement and positivity, I've also connected with many inspiring women within the community who have been reaching out to share words of encouragement, which is awesome.
As for my comittment to Black Beauty, I feel that its important for black women to have a space that encourages better health and wellbeing as we are often excluded from much of that narrative. One of my biggest motivations for The Afro Hair & Skin Co. is creating the space that supports black women in their healing,  a space where we can feel beautiful and free to express our multi-faceted identities, where we can exist without being made to feel that our beauty is not significant or welcome.

What's the importance of natural ingredients in your products?

Nature heals, and when you know this, it's then very difficult to include anything that might be counter-productive. When creating my products health comes first, both emotional and physical. People often assume that synthetic ingredients are mainly harmless, but actually many synthetic ingredients are biologically disruptive, take Phthalates for instance, this can be anything from components in artificial fragrance, perfumes and plastic based ingredients in cosmetics. These have been linked to fertility, early puberty, depression, obesity and cancers. Is it worth it?
When it comes to effectiveness natural ingredients are far superior to their synthetic counterparts, plus they go beyond the merely function to give lasting health benefits. How could I choose anything else?

You source a lot of products from the uk why is that?

It wasn't actually until I moved from London to the coast in 2014 that I realized there was so much agriculture in the UK. There are so many amazing things being grown here on British soil, but these are often overlooked for more exotic ingredients. As I began to explore them and look into the benefits it made absolute sense to me that these should form the main part of my product. Most importantly I found the most unexpected ingredients that work wonderfully for our hair and skin, ingredients like Poppy Flower Seed Oil, Camelina Seed and Crambe seed among others, all had really positive results when I trialed them. I also wanted my products to be as sustainable  as possible, because its important to me to minimize the impact on the environment, and not to drive up demand for ingredients that are contributing to harming the planet.

What beneficial beauty ingredients could we have growing in our back garden?

I'll be honest, i'm no gardener! However Mint, Sage, Rosemary and Lavender are all fairly easy herbs to grow and they can tolerate the climate quite well, you can also grow them indoors. I would start with these. Herbs are great for a natural tea rinses and for treating surface wounds, they can also be dried out and added to facemasks as a gentle exfoliants with an extra kick of goodness.

Tell us a bit about the range? 

There are 3 products that make up the range.
The first is Bloom - Omega Healthy Hair Oil. Its our signature product an extra special blend of Organic, locally sourced and natural ingredients. Bloom was created to with the perfect hair oil in mind. Its a lightweight non greasy oil that provides a comprehensive list of benefits to your hair and works to protect your hair and improve the health and quality of your hair growth.

Flourish has been the most popular product so far with some really wonderful feedback. It has all the sealing and conditioning benefits of a traditional hair butter, but is extremely light. Its creamy richness means you only need apply the smallest amount and it will seal in moisture and leave your hair feeling so soft, nourished and well conditioned. It smells divine too.

Flow- Perfectly Balanced Facial Oil  is my holy grail skincare product. Back in the days I was all about expensive serums that where  leaving me out of pocket and weren't necessarily designed to fully support for the needs of my melanin rich skin. So I started researching, testing (on willing humans) and experimenting with a recipe that would nourish and support the everyday needs of the brown skinned woman. After many incarnations, i'm really proud of Flow and have received amazing feedback. It was recently featured in Marie-Claire magazine too!

Tell us about your own natural hair journey? 

My natural hair journey is very closely tied to my health and wellness journey. I actually decided to remain natural in secondary school after one relaxer too many left my mum with no other option but to cut all my hair off. At the time I was in denial about the state my hair was in, trying to disguise the damage with headbands and hairclips. But it was in an awful state. Although I was fairly traumatized at the thought of having to go into school the next day with no hair, looking back it’s the best thing she could have done for me. From that point on I vowed never to get another relaxer as to me it just didn’t seem worth it and my hair was growing back thicker and healthier.
Although my hair was natural I wasn’t doing anything in particular to look after it. It was only after my time in Sweden, that I began to expand my beauty rituals to include taking better care of my hair as a way to make my self feel good and reconnect to my sense of self and identity. Natural ingredients where the missing link in this journey and from that point I haven’t looked back.


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