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Indigenous African Ingredients Take a Spot on Beauty's Global Stages

Published May 12, 2024
Published May 12, 2024
Andy Quezada via Unsplash

African products, and by proxy, their indigenous ingredients, are having their moment. Across the globe, many consumers within and outside the African continent are increasingly drawn to the allure of skincare and cosmetic products that are infused with these ingredients. These materials are cherished not only for their nourishing properties, but also for their cultural significance.

Thanks to organic African brands that continue to globalize the beauty market in the continent, what was once confined to local markets and traditional remedies is now experiencing a remarkable renaissance on the global stage. This allure of African beauty secrets is transcending borders and capturing the imagination of beauty enthusiasts and industry professionals alike. Innovators are harnessing their power, incorporating them into cutting-edge formulations and rewriting the narrative of the beauty industry both home and abroad.

This convergence of tradition and innovation is reshaping the beauty landscape, offering consumers a diverse array of products that celebrate Africa’s wealth of natural resources, while also meeting the demands for contemporary skincare and cosmetic routines. These raw materials are journeying from the soil of their origins to the shelves of global platforms like Sephora and Ulta. And recent Statista data show that 54% of UK consumers are willing to pay morefor products made from raw materials, even though the cost is often higher.

BeautyMatter explores some of the top indigenous ingredients of this beauty revolution in Africa with global founders and suppliers, illuminating their transformative power and benefits in shaping the future of skincare and cosmetics on a global scale.


The seeds of the moringa plant are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids, offering  a range of nourishing and rejuvenating properties. The versatile oils from the seeds can be used as face/body moisturizers and for hair treatments, making them a coveted ingredient in the beauty industry's quest for effective, eco-conscious formulations. Safi Revitalizing Face Oil, the number-one product of beauty brand Eni Culture founded by Nigerian-American entrepreneur Nkonye Iwerebon, has moringa oil as its hero ingredient.

“Moringa is commonly known as the miracle tree because it is used for medicinal and nutritional purposes throughout much of Africa,” she tells BeautyMatter. “It is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, and it has essential fatty acids like oleic acid and other nutritive compounds. It also keeps the skin highly moisturized and hydrated, providing a protective layer that minimizes transepidermal water loss,” she adds.


Carrot oil is an essential and popular ingredient among African beauty founders. Although carrots are often celebrated for their culinary versatility and health benefits, this vegetable is deeply rooted in the local beauty industry, offering a natural source of nourishment and rejuvenation for the skin. Across the African continent and globally, carrots have been cultivated for generations and used to create skincare formulations that honor tradition while embracing modern innovation. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, vitamins, and antioxidants, and provide a potent source of hydrating and brightening properties that resonate with consumers seeking natural, effective solutions.

Brands like Sheane Cosmetics, founded by Ghanaian researcher Mardia Adams, use beta-carotene, a derivative of carrots, in one of their best-selling products, Carotene Serum. “We have found that a lot of our customers usually order this product because it is really beneficial to the skin, as it helps with skin clearing, removing dead skin cells, and gives a natural glow,” Adams says to BeautyMatter. “[Customers] are really excited because they do not have the chemical form of beta carotene, as it’s all naturally extracted with us,” she continues.


As the global demand for natural skincare solutions continues to rise, African mango derivatives are gaining traction in the beauty industry. Local cooperatives, multinational corporations, and medium-sized businesses are harnessing this fruit not just for its efficacy but also its myriad skin-enhancing properties. Derivatives like mango butter, mango seed oil, and mango leaf extract are rich in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as antioxidants and enzymes.

For brands like Tanzania-based Mrembo Naturals, mango and its derivatives have been a huge part of its ingredients story, largely because of these moisturizing and antioxidant qualities. “We get the mango seeds, break the shell, and extract the embryo which is white in color, from the seeds,” founder Irene Simon Ivambi says to BeautyMatter. “These are then gathered and sent in for production,” she continues. Popular among the Mrembo Natural products which contain the derivatives of mango are Deep Conditioner and Hair Growth Essence Oil, largely sought after by the majority of its clientele based in East Africa.


Baobab is found in the savannah regions of Africa, and this region metaphorically speaks to the sturdy and long-lasting impacts of this indigenous plant on the skin. African baobab derivatives like baobab oil, baobab seed powder, baobab leaf extracts, and baobab seed extracts have garnered attention for their efficacy and sustainability, and cooperatives, corporations, and businesses like Kaibae are tapping into Africa's ancient beauty wisdom, elevating the baobab from a local treasure to a global skincare staple.

“I've had the opportunity to research plants all over the world, meet with traditional healers, learn from their experience, and learn how we can use those experiences in products here in the West. So Kaibae was founded 12 years ago. For some reason the baobab tree called to me,” Dr. Luc Maes, co-founder of Kaibae, tells BeautyMatter. “The oil, for example, is very rich in polyphenols, good for moisturizing very dry skin,” he adds. Kaibae runs a B2B business model where it supplies its own products like Baobab Oil and Baobab Love Bundle, which have health benefits, as well as the supply of the raw ingredient to businesses predominantly in the US.


The jojoba plant especially thrives in the dry parts of Africa, and this resilient plant produces derivatives that have been cherished by the indigenous communities closest to it. Jojoba oil for example, balances sebum production, moisturizes without clogging pores, and soothes dry, irritated skin. The wax derivative can serve as an emollient providing a protective barrier on the skin, locking in moisture and preventing transepidermal water loss.

“We use a natural jojoba wax that will moisturize and nourish all types of hair, but it’s particularly effective on curly and textured hair,” Nneka Fleming, founder of AirFRO Inc., tells BeautyMatter. AirFRO produces the RUN Conditioning Balm, which has jojoba oil as its hero ingredient. “[The product] will smooth frizz and flyaways at the hairline or edges, and give a sleek look without flaking and drying. It's light enough to reapply daily, and because it's rich in vitamins A & E, it protects the hair and promotes hair growth,” she continues.

This globalization of African brands and indigenous ingredients not only underlines the significance of "Made in Africa" beauty products, but also an increasing demand from consumers seeking products that  contain ingredients with high efficacious properties.


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