Step into the world of clean beauty with eco-friendly and skin-loving products.

Imagine you’re browsing the beauty aisle, eager to pick the perfect product for your hair or skin, but instead, you find shelves lined with items packed with harmful toxins. This unfortunate scenario is all too common for many Black women, who face a disproportionate risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals through beauty and hair care products. In a world where self-care should boost our well-being, it’s disturbing to discover that some products aimed at us might undermine our health. Consider the hair relaxers, dyes, and styling products many of us use routinely. A 2017 study by the Environmental Working Group found these products often have higher levels of toxins than those marketed to the broader public. The stakes are higher than just hair or skin care—this is about our health and making informed choices. Embracing clean beauty can be a transformative step towards safe and empowering self-care, ensuring the products we use enhance rather than compromise our health.

Jasmine Tookes via the Art Department

Let’s explore the transformative world of clean beauty—a movement dedicated to safeguarding our health while helping us look and feel our best. Black women in particular face serious risks as they are disproportionately exposed to harmful chemicals in beauty products, highlighting a vital need for safer, non-toxic alternatives. Clean beauty is all about embracing natural ingredients that prioritize the well-being of all consumers.

Moreover, the issue of counterfeit beauty products, especially prevalent in places like Nigeria, adds to these concerns. In 2019, NAFDAC seized about 60 million Naira (USD 50,000) worth of fake cosmetics, underlining the severe challenges counterfeit goods pose to the beauty industry. This situation stresses the crucial need for heightened awareness, stricter regulations, and greater transparency to ensure that beauty products are safe and authentic for everyone.

What are these harmful chemicals?

  • Parabens, used as preservatives, are found in cosmetics, skincare products, and food to prevent bacteria and mould growth. However, they are linked to hormone disruptions, including estrogen imbalance, which may cause reproductive issues and increase breast cancer risk. Common products with parabens include body lotions, facial moisturizers, and shampoos.
  • Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics more flexible. They are often found in fragrances, nail polish, and hair sprays. Phthalates can cause hormonal imbalances, developmental problems, and reproductive issues. For example, exposure to phthalates during pregnancy can affect fetal development and may lead to birth defects. Phthalates are also found in products like perfumes, deodorants, and vinyl shower curtains.
  • Formaldehyde is a preservative in products like shampoos, conditioners, and nail polishes. It is also known to be a carcinogen, which can cause respiratory issues, allergic reactions, and skin irritation. It’s particularly linked to an increased risk of leukaemia. Products containing formaldehyde include nail hardeners, hair straightening treatments, and eyelash adhesives.
  • Synthetic fragrances are added to enhance the scent of cosmetics, perfumes, and skincare products but can contain harmful chemicals like phthalates, parabens, and irritants. These fragrances can trigger allergies, cause respiratory problems such as asthma, and lead to skin sensitivities. Examples include perfumed lotions, scented candles, and perfumes.

In light of these risks, choosing clean beauty alternatives that prioritise natural ingredients has become paramount to safeguarding personal health, mitigating environmental degradation, and promoting a sustainable future for future generations.

The practice of clean beauty

Over the years, studies have shed light on the harmful chemicals lurking in our cosmetics. This research has sparked a serious conversation about the impact of these substances on our health and the planet, underscoring a critical need for safer, more transparent practices in the beauty industry.

This growing concern has fueled the clean beauty movement, driven by a broader shift towards more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyles. As people become more mindful of their impact on the environment, they’re gravitating towards products that reflect their values of sustainability and wellness. This cultural shift has spurred a demand for clean beauty products that prioritize human health, animal safety, and environmental conservation. Today, many brands are embracing eco-conscious practices, from sourcing responsibly grown botanicals to using recyclable or biodegradable packaging, helping to minimize their carbon footprint and contribute to the preservation of our planet.

By choosing clean beauty products, consumers can enjoy natural, nourishing ingredients that boost skin health and vitality. These products are typically free from harsh chemicals and irritants, making them a great choice for sensitive skin and reducing the likelihood of allergic reactions or irritations. Adopting clean beauty is more than a trend—it’s part of a holistic lifestyle choice that emphasizes wellness and mindfulness, enhancing the connection between our personal care routines and overall health.

Why clean beauty?

Using clean beauty products made with natural, non-toxic ingredients offers numerous benefits for individuals and the planet.

benefits of using clean beauty products

  • Gentler on the skin: Clean beauty products are made with natural, non-toxic ingredients, making them gentler and less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions than products containing harsh chemicals. The gentle formulations mean that individuals can enjoy smoother, healthier skin without worrying about adverse reactions, leading to increased confidence and comfort in their daily lives.
  • Nourishing ingredients: Clean beauty ingredients often contain vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds that nourish and rejuvenate the skin, promoting a healthier complexion over time. By incorporating these nourishing ingredients into their skincare routines, individuals can experience improvements in skin texture, tone, and overall appearance, enhancing their self-care rituals and boosting their confidence in their natural beauty.
  • Safer for the environment: By choosing clean beauty, you support sustainable practices and reduce the release of harmful chemicals into ecosystems. Clean beauty brands prioritise eco-friendly packaging and responsibly sourced ingredients, minimising their environmental impact. This commitment to sustainability makes consumers feel good about their purchasing decisions, knowing they contribute to preserving the planet for future generations.
  • Long-term health benefits: Using clean beauty products can improve long-term health outcomes by avoiding exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in conventional products, reducing the risk of skin issues and other health concerns. By prioritising their health and well-being, individuals can enjoy a higher quality of life and greater peace of mind, knowing they are taking proactive steps to protect themselves from harm.
  • Conscious consumerism: Opting for clean beauty allows consumers to align their personal care choices with their values, promoting ethical and sustainable practices within the beauty industry.

By supporting clean beauty brands prioritizing transparency, integrity, and social responsibility, individuals can feel empowered to make informed decisions about the products they use and the companies they support. Conscious consumerism leads to a sense of fulfilment and purpose in consumer choices.

Key Indicators to identify safe and sustainable products

Image via Marie Claire Nigeria

Identifying clean beauty products can empower consumers to make informed choices that align with their values and priorities. Here’s a guide on what to look out for when you want to patronize clean beauty:

  • Read ingredient lists: Check the ingredient list and prioritise products with natural, plant-based ingredients. Look for recognizable names like essential oils, botanical extracts, and fruit or seed oils, and avoid products containing synthetic fragrances, parabens, sulphates, and phthalates.
  • Look for certifications: Seek products from reputable organisations, such as USDA Organic, NAFDAC, Ecocert, or COSMOS. These certifications indicate that the product meets specific standards for ingredient sourcing, processing, and environmental impact.
  • Research brands: Take the time to research brands and their commitment to clean beauty principles. Look for transparent brands about their ingredient sourcing, manufacturing practices, and environmental initiatives. Check if they have a cruelty-free or vegan certification if those values are essential to you.
  • Check for transparency: Choose brands that are transparent about product formulations and testing procedures. Look for brands that disclose complete ingredient lists, provide information about the sourcing of their ingredients, and are forthcoming about any third-party testing or certifications they hold.
  • Consider packaging: Pay attention to packaging materials and opt for products packaged in recyclable or biodegradable materials whenever possible. Some clean beauty brands offer refillable or zero-waste packaging options to minimize environmental impact.
  • Read reviews and recommendations: Utilize online resources, such as beauty blogs, forums, and social media platforms, to read reviews and recommendations from other consumers who priorities clean beauty. Their experiences can help guide your decision-making process.

By following these tips, consumers can confidently identify and patronize clean beauty products, prioritizing ingredient integrity, environmental sustainability, and overall well-being.

Brands embracing clean beauty in Nigeria

These brands offer safer personal care options, contribute to environmental sustainability and support local communities. Let’s explore some of Nigeria’s leading clean beauty brands reshaping the industry while promoting healthier skin and a more sustainable future.

House of Coco

Founded by Chidiogo Mbelede, House of Coco is a scientifically formulated skincare brand that stands out for its clear focus on crafting solutions tailored to African skin, specifically targeting issues such as acne and hyperpigmentation. Their commitment to clean beauty is evident through formulations free from allergens, parabens, phthalates, and petrochemicals. Transparency is a cornerstone, with detailed ingredient lists and usage instructions for each product. While prioritising natural and organic ingredients, the brand reduces the environmental impact of synthetic chemicals and promotes healthier skin care practices. House of Coco’s impact extends beyond skincare, empowering women through their female-owned, led, and staffed structure. Since its inception in August 2017, the brand’s dedication has helped over 10,000 women achieve clearer skin and regain confidence, reflecting their mission to uplift the female clan in Nigeria and Africa.

Highlighted products:

  • HYDRO-PATCH: Hydrocolloid Pimple Patch: These discrete patches offer spot treatment for acne, promoting rapid healing and protecting pimples without irritation. The best part is that they’re invisible.
  • REJUVENATE + REPAIR CREAM: A multipurpose face cream formulated with vitamin C and kojic acid to treat sun-induced hyperpigmentation and promote overall skin lightening.


ORÍKÌ, derived from the Yoruba language, translates to “your crown, your heritage, and your inspiration.” Founded by Joycee Awosika in 2013, the brand believes in promoting local industry and advocating for healthy living. With a solid commitment to utilizing the finest natural ingredients sourced from Nigeria’s beauty industry, each product undergoes meticulous handcrafting, reflecting ORÍKÌ’s devotion to natural skincare. While some ingredients are globally sourced, ORÍKÌ prioritizes empowering local farmers, particularly women who rely on shea butter production for their livelihoods. Furthermore, the brand has initiated a foundation dedicated to empowering farmers and is embarking on its farm project in Lagos, underscoring its commitment to sustainability in the indigenous beauty sector.

Highlighted products:

  • Sugarcane lip scrub w/ coconut oil: This all-natural lip scrub gently exfoliates and moisturises the lips, removing impurities and leaving them soft and moisturized.
  •  Clarifying face mask w/ spirulina or moringa: Made with volcanic kaolin clay, spirulina, and moringa, this mask purifies the skin, absorbs excess oil, and helps reduce acne and blemishes, reflecting ORÍKÌ’s commitment to effective, natural skincare solutions.

Olori Cosmetics

Founded by Toyin Odulate, Olori Cosmetics draws inspiration from royalty with its name, “Olori,” which translates to “Queen” in Yoruba. With over 12 years of experience in the personal care business, Odulate leverages her family’s entrepreneurial background to create products that cater to every woman’s inner queen. Olori prides itself on sourcing premium ingredients from across Africa, aligning with its commitment to natural, organic elements. The brand’s product range includes hair care essentials like the DamageBeGone line and upcoming launches such as the kiddie hair care line, My Little Olori, and the WinterBeGone Whipped Shea Body Butter. In an interview with Essence Magazine, Odulate discussed the challenges of sourcing raw materials, highlighting the brand’s dedication to providing high-quality, African-made products tailored to consumers of African descent.

Highlighted product

Image via Olori Cosmetics Instagram

DamageBeGone conditioning shampoo with argan Oil: This specially formulated shampoo is designed for dry, dehydrated, damaged, and breakage-prone hair. It gently cleanses, conditions, and detangles without stripping essential moisture, leaving hair supple and manageable. It is infused with Moroccan Argan Oil for hydration and strength, along with witch hazel, tea tree, and cucumber extracts to soothe the scalp and restore hair health.

R&R Luxury

Renowned for its dedication to harnessing nature’s gifts, R&R is a prominent plant-based skincare brand established in 2010 by Beauty Entrepreneur Valerie Obaze. The brand is committed to crafting elegant beauty products that moisturise and rejuvenate the skin. With a focus on using shea butter and other natural African ingredients, R&R offers a range of luxurious formulations for the face, body, and hair, including oils, soaps, and lip balms. The brand’s commitment to ethical sourcing, nature preservation, and job creation sets it apart, as it sources, manufactures, sells, and exports its products entirely in Africa, creating employment opportunities across the value chain.

Highlighted Products:

Image via RandRluxury Instagram
  • Shea oil bundle – Ori-Nku (Unscented): This pack includes a 100ml bottle of Ori-Nku Shea Oil and two refill pouches, offering a sustainable solution for replenishing shea oil without plastic bottles. Shea oil, sourced from Ghana, West Africa, is rich in fatty acids and vitamins A, E, and F, providing multiple moisturising benefits for skin and hair.
  • Black soap bar: This ancient cleansing secret, powered by shea butter and other natural ingredients, deeply cleanses the face and body without stripping moisture. With antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, black soap is suitable for all skin types and helps relieve dryness, soothe irritation, and even out skin tone.

As consumers increasingly prioritise the ingredients they apply to their skin, more brands will emerge as beacons of hope, offering products crafted from natural, non-toxic ingredients sourced locally from the African continent. By championing transparency, ethical sourcing, and environmental responsibility, brands will revolutionise the beauty industry while empowering local communities and promoting a healthier, more sustainable future.

As we wholeheartedly embrace the clean beauty movement, let us recognise that our pursuit goes beyond mere cosmetics—a commitment to personal well-being and planetary health. By consciously choosing products that prioritise both, we wield the power to effect positive change with every skincare routine. Let’s forge a future where beauty transcends appearances, embracing a holistic approach that nurtures our well-being and preserves our planet for future generations. Join the movement, advocate for clean beauty within your communities, and together, let’s shape the future trends of clean beauty in West Africa and beyond.


  • Efua

    Efua Claire Jobi-Taiwo is the fashion and beauty editor at Marie Claire Nigeria. She is passionate about the future of fashion in Nigeria and believes the right outfit can transform the mind and spirit of anybody. She is an excellent event host, mediator and public speaker. She is hopeful to build a beautiful life by God's grace. She is married with a beautiful son and lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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