Selling my own organic skincare products did not happen overnight. It came about after years of figuring out the formulae, researching ingredients, learning about harmful chemicals and being blessed with family and friends who were willing to be my guinea pigs. I wanted to figure out how to treat dry skin naturally, as well as my eczema but more importantly, I believe it’s incredibly important for South Africans to become more conscious buyers of cosmetic products. We compromise the health of our bodies and the environment by purchasing products that contain harmful ingredients without even thinking about it. I created Ngwedi Beauty to challenge the way we treat our skin and the way we buy skincare and haircare products. I wanted to create a more conscious beauty company that what you put on the outside of your body is just as important as what you put into your body.
In the years between 2017 and 2019, I was obsessed with watching DIY videos on YouTube about natural hair products I could make at home and how to treat dry skin naturally. It was a rocky journey with some mistakes on the way, but for the most part I learned a lot and as I learned I made notes. I started improvising with the knowledge I gained and before I knew it, I was making hair care products for my friends and family. I would get amazing feedback from them and could see for myself the impact it had on their lives that encouraged me to keep going. Once I got comfortable conjuring up amazing all-natural hair products, I ventured into skincare.
The emotion that inspired me to make my own skincare products was frustration. I was not finding the right products for my chronically dry skin in the shops. Nothing moisturised my skin for more than a couple of hours. Around that time I started to get into which ingredients often used in skincare products that were harmful and stripped my skin of sebum, the natural oil our bodies produce to keep our skin hydrated. I began to connect the dots. Brands that claimed to moisturise skin really didn’t care about moisturising skin. It’s just a money-maker for them. Selling extremely watered-down products with sulphates, silicones, mineral oil, parabens in them does not inspire confidence in the validity of their marketing selling points. I was fed up. I knew that if anyone was going to start caring about my skin, it was me. I had to find a way to treat my dry skin naturally.
I wanted healthy skin. Not only do I suffer from chronically dry skin, but I have eczema as well, a skin condition where the skin is inflamed, irritated, itchy and comes in the form of patchy rashes. A dermatologist I went to told me that my particular case was triggered by my chronic stress, and the stress hormone cortisol would wreak havoc on my skin and cause inflammation. I was prescribed a steroid cream that sort of worked for a little while but then I ran out. Now, at this point I was becoming the type of person who looked towards Mother Nature for results on skincare. So I turned to nature for my skin condition and dry skin.
When it comes to figuring out which natural product would work for me, I tested out each ingredient separately. So I started with Shea Butter. When I tell you my eczema started to disappear within weeks of use, it’s not a joke! My skin became supple, soft, moisturised. I said goodbye to ashy skin forever after that first purchase of organic, unrefined Shea Butter. Remember the DIY YouTube videos I was watching for haircare product ideas? I was doing the exact same thing for skincare. I stumbled upon whipped shea butter and thought “this is perfect, I get to combine the magic of other organic oils with shea butter while enjoying a creamy, fluffier texture that’s easier to apply!” From that moment on, I never looked back.
After the first time I used whipped Shea Butter, that became the standard way I used Shea Butter on my skin. My friends and family started to notice the health and glow in my skin and would ask what I was using. That’s when I had the opportunity to spread awareness about my healthy, natural organic skin products while getting the chance to have guinea pigs to test out my creations. We at Ngwedi Beauty are very strict about animal testing and would never purchse any raw materials that were tested on animals nor would we test our products on animals. Eventually a friend of mine asked “why don’t you sell your products?” At first the idea seemed preposterous: who would buy MY humble homemade products? But after my partner patiently listened to one of my many rants (it happened more often than I’d like to admit) about the importance of natural skincare and haircare and the lack of representation in the industry he gently suggested I be a part of the shift towards healthier skincare and haircare.
It was this revelation that made me realise that, yes, it was important that we as South Africans become more conscious consumers in all industries but especially cosmetics. It seems we are slowly getting to the point where healthy products are important to us, but there is still room for more growth and awareness. If I can change the life of one person, that would mean I’d be part of the solution, not the problem. People might not be aware that their skin is absorbent and will take in anything put on it, including cancer-causing ingredients. I decided to step up, overcome my insecurities and bring some magic into peoples’ skincare and haircare routines.
That is how Ngwedi Beauty was born: out of caring, love and a willingness to create conscious South African consumers. While other countries are a bit ahead of us in the natural, conscious cosmetics movement, importing products with our exchange rate can be quite expensive. It’s important to me to have our own local, and especially Black-owned organic/natural skincare and haircare businesses so that our people have easy access to luxury cosmetics while supporting fellow South Africans. In addition to that, my passion for sharing natural skincare and haircare products with others is why I decided to sell them: I know I’m not alone in my struggles to find the right cosmetics. If anyone else is suffering like I was, they deserve the magical touch of Mother Nature. If I could figure out how to treat my dry skin naturally, so should others. I foresee the future of natural, organic cruelty-free products becoming more and more available in this country and that thought makes me happy.