How it all began.. (grab a cuppa of your fave brew & make yourself comfy)
I found myself in hospital after my hands had been blistered by a lotion that contained propylene glycol (propane-1,2-diol). This ingredient is used widely as an humectant in hair care products, car anti-freeze, and is generally referred to as safe, just not safe for me. With hands throbbing and scalp tingling my thoughts were clear, “No more off the shelf cosmetics, for me, ever!”
At this point, I knew that I had to create the products I desperately needed.
If I can put it in my body, I can put it on my body - so I frantically began experimenting with ingredients from my kitchen. Virgin coconut oil, coffee grinds, sugar, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseeds, fenugreek seeds, dried herbs, fresh okra, bicarbonate of soda, and honey.
I made herb infused hair and body oils, body scrubs, added bicarbonate of soda to water and honey to wash my hair, made hair gel from flaxseeds and fenugreek, even used the thick water left behind from cooking okra to condition my hair.
I stopped straightening my hair with harsh chemicals, and began my journey from bone-straight relaxed to natural fluffy Afro. I read everything I could about cosmetic manufacturing, and began deciphering ingredient labels of various off the shelf commercial hair and skin care products. This gave me a better understanding of cosmetic ingredients, what they were and were not doing for me. It was quite a challenge translating all the Latin (INCI) nomenclature of the ingredients and separating the boswellox from the natural benefits but I got there in the end - thanks to my trusty books "Milady’s Cosmetic Dictionary" and “Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin ”.
Soon I became passionately obsessed with mixing my own beauty products.
During my lunch hour I would loiter the oils sections at Waitress, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury purchasing only the best quality vegetable, fruit and nut oils I could afford. Then it was on to the other sections in search of humectants like agave, coconut syrup and exfoliants such as demarara sugar, desiccated coconut, sea salts, ground coffee, loose leaf tea and softeners, organic cocoa powder, corn starch, and arrowroot powder.
One day, I bought some unrefined shea butter from a Ghanaian lady at a local market but I didn't know what to do with it. I asked her for a simple hair butter recipe and she told me to "melt the shea, add a little olive oil to it, and let it cool ". It worked wonders but it wasn't enough.
So I went online and typed "natural hair butter" into Google, hoping to find another recipe. What came up was Nappturality's Homemade Forum. I was in my element and couldn’t believe my luck! A group of like-minded people, with natural hair, who shared the same interests about making their own natural hair care products. I was inspired, created an alias (Shulta), instantly immersed myself in the forum, and made loads of "cyber friends". We talked about natural ingredients, emulsions, basic chemistry, hair care tips, styling techniques, and of course recipes. I shared my creations with others on the forum. Soon word spread and I became overwhelmed by forum members asking to buy my products. My old posts are still a source of knowledge on Nappturality's Homemade Forum.
That was 2005.
A lot has changed since then.
The ingredients I use are purchased directly from farming communities, partnerships I've built with fair trade and organic suppliers. I work closely with my cosmetic chemist to create deep conditioners, shampoo bars, leave-ins, cleansers, hair and body oils. The business has moved from my kitchen at home to manufacturing premises in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
I'll be collaborating with Brand Ambassadors to spread the word and I've launched a new Loyalty Rewards program, too!
My products are not on the high street, they're online, where it all began and I love it!
Though, some things will never change.
- I still give back to the global community - helping other budding entrepreneurs in the developing world..
- All of our goodies are handmade, fresh, to order, here in the UK.
- I get giddy with excitement about testing new ingredients and creating products from scratch.
- I enjoy all the different ways you can use oils, herbs, butters, floral waters, extracts, waxes, clays and powders.
Although my most treasured, staple, ingredient of all time is, and will always be, the mouth-watering-yummyliciousness of pure, raw, unrefined cocoa butter.
The future of Anita Grant looks fantastic!
I’m as eager as ever to tap into Mother nature’s hidden treasure of raw ingredients to create even more highly effective, non-toxic, hair and skin care products for you.
I hope you enjoy them.