Botanicals From Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, and Namibia Nourish Tresses In Bella Lucce’s African Adventures Collection
As part of her dedication to incorporating the highest quality natural and organic ingredients, Bella Lucce founder Lela Barker strives to constantly expand her understanding of plant and fruit oils, seed and nut extracts, sea minerals, and ground spices, studying how they can be incorporated into her skin care and hair care formulations. Her newest collection, Bella Lucce’s African Adventures Collection, is the result of six trips to Africa in a two-year period, during which Barker traversed the continent, studying the botanical wonders and the beauty traditions of the women in Ghana, Morocco, Mali, Egypt, South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya.
The eight-product collection, then, incorporates ingredients like: South African rooibos extract, the plant used to make African red tea; yangu (otherwise known as cape chestnut) oil sourced from Kenya; Madagascar vanilla absolute; oils from the seeds of Kenyan baobab trees; and nilotica shea butter cold-pressed in Uganda.
On the hair care front, the collection includes the Bella Lucce Baobab & Red Tea Naturally Nourishing Shampoo ($22 at BellaLucce.com), a sulfate-, paraben-, phtalate-, and silicone-free cleanser that still lathers deliciously thanks to the hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed oat flour, and hydrolyzed wheat starch in the formula. The shampoo has a sheer yellowish tint and a sightly sappy consistency that’s thin without being runny, and the fragrance has an earthy, herbal quality that’s slightly spicy and refreshing. Unlike other shampoos that feel like they’re drying out the hair, making your strands feel tangled even as you massage the product into the scalp, the Bella Lucce Baobab & Red Tea Naturally Nourishing Shampoo removes dirt and impurities with acacia flower extract, a natural cleansing agent, while also moisturizing, fortifying strands, stimulating hair growth, and soothing scalp dryness. This feat is accomplished via a potent formula that relies on softening Ugandan shea butter; Kenyan baobab oil, which is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins A, D, and E; panthenol, a natural conditioning agent; manketti oil, which protects strands from environmental hazards; neem oil, which provides relief for those with dry and itchy scalps; and antioxidant-rich rooibos extract, which safeguards hair color so that it doesn’t appear dull or faded.
Once you’ve cleansed your hair thoroughly, the real treat begins as you apply the Bella Lucce Mongongo & Shea Nutritive Conditioner ($26 at BellaLucce.com), a divine moisturizer that leaves strands silky soft. It takes a bit of effort to pump it out of its slim bottle and the texture is similar to that of a lightweight body lotion but here’s the magical part: when you press your palms against your wet hair, the conditioner seems to melt onto the hair. Think of how, when you spread margarine atop piping hot, seconds-out-of-the-toaster bread slices, it sinks right into the toast, turning its tint a gorgeous yellow gold hue. Now, imagine a conditioner that would be as easily absorbed by your strands as the butter was by that toast. It’s extraordinary!
Among the key ingredients in the conditioner is Namibian mongongo oil (also known as manketti oil), which contains high levels of vitamin E and eleostearic acid, both of which provide a protective layer against UV rays, as well as linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that helps to stimulate hair growth and allows strands to locks in moisture. Yangu seed oil, extracted from the black seeds of trees native to the South African region, smooths and moisturizes hair with its high concentration of oleic, linoleic, and palmitic acids, as does the watermelon seed oil in the formula, which hydrates without weighing tresses down or leaving behind any greasy residue. Moringa oil, meanwhile, penetrates the hair cuticle, moisturizing it from within, while soothing and hydrating the scalp to fortify strands at the root. Baobab seed oil, avocado oil, and shea butter further hydrate and soften strands. Last, a dollop of honey seals the hair shaft, locking in all the vitamins and nutrients delivered by the ingredients in the formula.
Both the shampoo and conditioner are packaged in slim bottles made of recyclable materials, each bearing a label made of an eco-friendly corn-based material, with a slim black elastic band wrapped around the base of the pump applicator, a tiny silver elephant charm dangling from the elastic to add a dose of safari fun.
You’ll be left dreaming of Africa and thanking the Cradle of Civilization for breathing new life into your hair.