Natural Skin and Hair Care
During the D.C. Green Festival last fall, I stopped by the booth of the Sterling, Va.-based company Shea Terra Organics. I’d heard good things about their products and was eager to learn more about the company and try their skin and hair care, especially their famed African Black Soap and Moroccan mud products. I was given three items to try: Authentic African Black Soap, Argan Oil and Mud-Poo.
Founded nearly 15 years ago by Tammie Umbel, Shea Terra uses the best of African botanicals to create natural, organic skin and hair care products. During her youthful travels to the continent, Umbel developed a love of the land and its people, and discovered the secrets of traditional African botanicals and healing oils. As a result, Shea Terra uses the finest in indigenous African oils, plant extracts and minerals, including argan oil, shea butter, Ghassool clay and Kalahari minerals salts.
Authentic African Black Soap
In West Africa, black soap is produced by mixing the ash of local plants, barks and natural oils. The resultant soap is rich in vitamins A and E, and the granules of plantain peels, cocoa pods and tree kernels gently exfoliate the skin. Devoid of any chemicals, dyes or unhealthy additives, this soap is renowned for its deep cleaning and skin-nourishing ability. It’s excellent for sensitive, acne-prone skin. I’ve been using it daily and find it to be non-drying, and it keeps the small acne bumps that I occasionally get on my chin under control. My skin feels fresh and smooth after several months of use.
Moroccan Mud-Poo Hair Wash (Clementine)
Made with 100 percent pure aloe vera juice, Moroccan mud and Kalahari mineral salts and scented only with natural essential oils, this product is designed to replace shampoo. I followed the instructions: “apply enough mud to cover wet hair, massage the mud in for a minute or two. Rinse out.”
Sounds easy, but the last step was most problematic for me. Not only could I not rinse out the mud during the initial application, it took me at least four days to remove the stuff from my mud-stiffened, bristly hair, during which time I looked and felt ready to join the ranks of the Asaro mud men of Papua New Guinea. Although this product may work some, it certainly did not work for me as a hair cleanser. I have been using it as a light mud masque and exfoliating cleanser in the mornings, and it works exceedingly well in these applications.
Moroccan Argan Oil
As I’ve written before about argan oil, it’s critical that you obtain 100 percent pure, undiluted oil for your skin and hair. Shea Terra’s argan oil is unadulterated and artisanal, i.e., it’s extracted the traditional way by Berber women in Morocco. The oil is highly beneficial to the skin and hair; its high vitamin A (in its precursor form of beta-carotene) and vitamin E sooth dry, aging skin. Like its relative olive oil, it contains squalene and plant sterols, which soften skin and combat the signs of aging.
The texture is light, not greasy and absorbs well. I use a few drops around my eyes every morning and smooth several more into my hair. If you’re looking for a good, all-purpose beauty oil, pure argan oil is the perfect choice.