Our ancestry is woven within the communities we are born into and can play a critical role in how we behave with one another and look after ourselves. For decades, beauty has evolved from similar paths, with ancient remedies and rituals used as a way to cultivate our routines.
In Ancient China and Japan, rice water was used as a toner. In Ancient Africa, oils and creams were extracted from fruit, nuts, and seeds to moisturize and nourish the hair and body. Today, consumers are leaning into formulas and brands with strong connections to their heritage. "Beauty has become very problem and solution-focused," Hind Sebti, the founder of Whind, says. "There is a market for that, but there is an underserved market that is craving more depth and more soul."
According to Charis Udeh, founder of Kyalli, many people desire to be closer to their heritage. "Many of us are first, second, or third-generation immigrants," Udeh says. "We embrace the lands our parents migrated to, but we lust after our heritage. So we search for anything that makes us feel closer to our roots from art, music, food, and more increasingly products."
Additionally, the search for pure and clean ingredients is an ever-increasing focus in many beauty routines. It's another reason why consumers find themselves searching for products with meaning. If you've made a goal to incorporate more intentional items into your routine, we've rounded some up ahead. Read on to discover more about seven brands centered around ancestral rituals and culturally significant ingredients.
Skyn Iceland is inspired by the unspoiled, natural resources of the European country. "Iceland is also home to some of the world's purest and most potent natural ingredients," Allison Heffernan, SVP of Marketing at Skyn Iceland says. " We sourced and enhanced ingredients from the mineral-rich hot springs, untouched glacial rivers, and antioxidant-powered berries, with skincare science to create products that transform and calm the skin."
Iceland's culture is also present in the brand's name, skyn, which translates to senses in Icelandic. The Icelandic Complex is the brand's propriety blend that replenishes the nutrients stress depletes from your face. "It contains pollution-free Icelandic glacial water, arctic superfruits, and pure molecular oxygen," Heffernan adds. "Our botanicals are sourced from the Arctic, which in conjunction with the region's mineral-rich volcanic soil and unpolluted air, creates plants with potent properties."
Fable & Mane
"Fable & Mane is a modern hair-wellness brand inspired by deep-rooted Indian beauty rituals," co-founder Nikita Mehta tells us. "My brother and I wanted to take the oils that our grandma used in our hair while telling us fables and turn it into a celebrated routine."
To bring that aspect of Mehta's culture to life, the brand tapped culturally rich ingredients like Ashwagandha to infuse into its formulas. "It's an adaptogen from India that my grandma used to massage into my hair," Mehta explains. "Our mission is to bring the generational wisdom from India to the world through incredible Indian plants and Ayurvedic rituals for healthy living." Fable & Mane's packaging, which features its logo— a wild tiger— is an ode to India's national animal. The brand also tapped the colors of the Indian flag to weave throughout its packaging and marketing design.
Sebti created Whind to bring soul and joy to skincare without sacrificing substance. "It's science-formulated skincare infused with texture and scent and inspired by my Moroccan roots," she explains. "My country of birth inspired me because it's where I learned that beauty is an emotion." Through Whind, Sebti aims to share Moroccan beauty culture with the world. "Our perspective is grounded in confidence and positivity," she explains. "I wanted to bottle that up to help you feel good.
Maya Nije is a genderless perfume brand named after its founder. Nije focuses on high-quality artisanal blends that are centered around her Swedish and West African culture. "An old photo album of mine inspires the current range," Njie shares. In it, Nije was inspired by images of her family and their composition and color palettes. "Even though they are personal to me, they are also relatable to others, which forms a connection between the fragrances and the wearer."
Maya Njie's fragrance notes are directly linked to both countries, with Swedish ingredients like cardamom and vanilla in Vanilj and Gambian ingredients like pineapple and coconut in Tropica. "In Tobak, you have tobacco leaf, leather, and vetiver, which is inspired by my grandad in Sweden but truly reminiscent of both places," she adds.
Irene Forte has years of experience in the world of beauty and spas. She set out to formulate a brand grounded in the vibrancy of Sicily. "We created natural, plant-based formulations inspired by the Mediterranean diet, using ingredients grown at our organic farm in Sicily," Forte explains. "Our formulas are guided by science and have outstanding fragrance and feel." Forte's lineup includes beneficial, naturally derived ingredients like olive, sweet almond, and pistachio oils, along with the brand's Italian plant acid complex.
Liha Okunniwa, the co-founder of Liha Beauty, tapped her African roots to bring a luxe, good-for-you skincare brand to life. "We gave all the products Yoruba names because it is such a beautiful language and tells a story within itself," Okunniwa explains. Shea butter and coconut are prominent ingredients in most of Liha Beauty's formulations, both with reparative, nourishing benefits.
The brand's multiuse model is also an intentional way to reduce its carbon footprint. "All the products are multipurpose and easy to travel with so that you are automatically consuming less when you buy one product," Okunniwa says. "The ingredients directly benefit the women we work with in cooperatives." The goal for Okunniwa is to continue to source and grow ingredients on Nigerian farms to share with the world.
Kyalli cultivates earth-derived Phyto-actives to create high-quality ingredients and formulas that transform the mind and body. "At Kyalli, we create natural products without unnecessary additives that nourish and rejuvenate skin so that it glows in the way that nature intends," founder Charis Udeh shares. "Our name— key-ah-lee—is a word from the Hausa language of Sub-Saharan Africa that means luminous."
Kyalli's star ingredient is the Yakuwa plant, unique to most northern cities in Sub-Saharan Africa. "Growing up in Northern Nigeria, I spent most evenings and weekends in the Sultan's palace due to my father's job," Udeh says. "I spent a lot of time with the queens and princesses, and it was common to see them use the oils and extracts from the Yakuwa plant for topical application and internal consumption." As a result, Udeh says the women had ageless, spotless skin. "It's our goal to make ingredients like these accessible to everyone through our products."