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12 African Beauty Secrets You Need to Know For Skin, Hair, & More

12 African Beauty Secrets You Need to Know For Skin, Hair, & More


Legend has it that Cleopatra of ancient Egypt had naturally glowing and youthful skin, thanks to ingredients straight from the earth. Many believe that ancient African skin care holds many secrets to flawless looking skin, simply by using natural ingredients.

The inspiration behind our brand lies within the wondrous continent of Africa, specifically the charming country of Sierra Leone. The culture, the food, the destinations, the people - they have all influenced the identities behind each one of our products.

But what else sparked the creation of krio is the ancient and ritual beauty practices of our ancestors and the natural ingredients they used. Ingredients like marula oil and shea butter were abundant naturally and due to their effective benefits, are used in many products today.

Here are 12 natural, homeopathic African beauty secrets from our ancestors to incorporate into your routine today.

  1. Argan Oil

Argan oil comes from the kernels on argan trees, which are native to Morocco. Argan oil has many benefits for both your hair and your skin.

Argan oil’s benefits for your skin:

  • Acne-fighting: Argan oil regulates the amounts of sebum on our skin to control acne and oiliness, calming our skin's complexion.

  • Antioxidant: Being an antioxidant, argan oil fights free radical damage from the sun.

  • Vitamin E: Argan oil contains vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that works to improve water retention in our skin and moisturizes.

  • Healing: The combination of vitamin E and antioxidants help to heal wounds and cuts faster, including scarring from acne.

  • Anti-inflammatory: Argan oil helps to reduce the symptoms of psoriasis and rosacea

  • Anti-aging: Argan oil increases the elasticity of the skin, promoting anti-aging.

Argan oil’s benefits for your hair:

  • Dandruff-fighting: High in vitamin E and antioxidants, these moisturizing properties of argan oil help fight dandruff and dry scalp.

  • Protecting: High in antioxidant properties, argan oil neutralizes hair damage from free radicals (pollution, chemicals, hair products).

  • Elasticity and Shine: With its high content of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E, argan oil naturally increases our hair's elasticity and restores shine to dull, lifeless hair.

2. Shea Butter

Shea butter is extracted from the shea fruit, and this tree grows mainly in the western forest savannas of Africa. The name means "life" in the Mandinka language (a language native to Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea).

Shea butter’s benefits for your skin:

  • Softening for dry skin: Shea butter has a high concentration of fatty acids and vitamins, which makes it an ideal ingredient to soothe and soften dry, cracked, or irritated skin.

  • Anti-inflammatory: Shea butter also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties, reducing the appearance of scarring. 

  • Toning: Using shea butter on your body, especially your face, can tone your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and stretch marks.

3. Marula Oil

Marula oil is derived from the Marula tree, native to the southern parts of Africa. It’s extracted from either the Marula nut or from the Marula fruit kernels.

Image from Bernard DUPONT on Flickr

Image from Bernard DUPONT on Flickr

Marula oil’s benefits for your skin:

  • Anti-aging: Rich in antioxidants and amino acids, marula oil decreases the appearance of wrinkles, stimulates collagen production, and reduces water loss while essential fatty acids and polyphenols improve elasticity. 

  • Moisturizing: Marula oil is not greasy and will act as a good moisturizer for both oily and dry skin.

  • Acne-fighting: Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties help reduce redness and inflammation related to acne.

  • Protecting: Vitamin C and vitamin E fight to neutralize free radicals (UV rays, blue light emissions) from damaging your skin.

  • Cleans pores: Marula oil can help clear your pores of dirt, debris, and dead skin cells.


4. Baobab Oil

The exquisite baobab oil is cold-pressed from the seeds of baobab fruit trees growing in Africa (specifically Mozambique, Botswana, and South Africa). The normal lifespan of a Baobab tree is 500 years, with the oldest trees reaching the age of 5,000 years and a height of 20 meters. Known to the locals as "The Tree Of Life,” Baobab's bark, leaves, and fruit pulp are also used.

Baobab oil’s benefits for your skin:

  • Packed with nutrients: Baobab oil contains a lot of nutrients and minerals such as fatty acids, vitamin E, calcium, alfa and beta carotenes, uronic acid, tannins, and phytosterols.

  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta carotenes help protect our skin from harmful free radical damage.

  • Moisturizing: Baobab oil is an excellent moisturizer for your skin and nourishes the epidermis while anti-inflammatory properties help soothe conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

5. Kalahari Melon Oil

Kalahari melon oil is extracted from the seeds of the kalahari melon - not the melon we all know and love, though. This pale yellow/green melon is grown in Southern Africa, specifically the Kalahari desert and has a much more bitter taste. But it’s benefits for your skin are sweet.

Kalahari melon oil’s benefits for your skin:

  • Anti-inflammatory: Kalahari melon oil reduces inflammation caused by acne while skin-friendly vitamins soothe.

  • Cleansing: Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid works to unclog pores and remove excess sebum from your skin’s surface.

  • Anti-aging: Kalahari melon oil is tightening and wrinkle-reducing thanks to antioxidants and vitamins A, C, + E. Preformed vitamin A is a retinoid and your skin is a retinoid-responsive organ. Retinol stimulates the production of new skin cells and keeps skin hydrated. Vitamin C and vitamin E are antioxidants which help prevent and reverse free radical-induced oxidative damage, thus slowing down signs of skin aging. Vitamin C also improves elasticity and stimulates collagen production while vitamin E helps with atopic dermatitis and heals wounds.

  • Repairing: omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids (EFAs) stimulate skin cell growth to help repair skin damage and scarring. Did you know that these aren’t created in the body naturally? So giving your skin these fatty acids is extra important. Most of us get these EFAs from fish, nuts, seeds, and oils, but if you don’t get enough, your skin may suffer from dryness, irritation, redness, scaliness, rashes, or poor wound-healing.

6. Aloe Vera


Native to Northern Africa and Southern Europe, aloe vera is a powerful natural skincare ingredient. It was even believed that Cleopatra used aloe vera as a part of her daily skincare routine.

Aloe vera’s benefits for your skin:

  • Moisturizing: Aloe moisturizes skin without looking or feeling greasy, making it perfect for oily skin.

  • Acne-fighting: Auxin and gibberellins, two hormones in aloe, provide anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce the appearance and pain of of blemishes and acne.

  • Healing: Gibberellin, the hormone in aloe, stimulates the growth of new cells. This makes aloe the perfect ingredient for healing wounds, small cuts, and abrasions, especially after shaving. And of course, as we all know - sunburn relief.

  • Antioxidants: Aloe vera contains antioxidants beta carotene and vitamin C and E which help to heal, protect, strengthen, and firm skin.

7. Lavender Oil

Although lavender is found in many parts of the world, it is native to Northern Africa (and other parts of Europe and Asia). To produce lavender oil, the flowers are tied in bunches and left for several weeks to dry. Then they undergo steam distillation - the best way to avoid any chemical contamination.

Lavender oil’s benefits for your skin:

  • Acne-fighting: Lavender oil is naturally antibacterial, allowing it to naturally fight acne.

  • Calming: The oil will calm and soothe irritated skin and help reduce redness, blotchy patches, and acne scarring. 

  • Anti-inflammatory: Its anti-inflammatory properties are great for soothing and healing skin that’s irritated or red from the sun, insect bites, or bacteria.

  • Stress-relieving: The oil is well-known to relieve stress and anxiety, providing a therapeutic experience while benefiting your skin.


8. Rooibos Tea

This South African shrub, Rooibos, means “red bush” in Afrikaans. It’s commonly known as a type of tea, specifically as part of traditional South African medicine. Drinking just one cup of rooibos tea a day can have powerful benefits for both your skin and hair.

Rooibos tea’s benefits for your skin + hair:

  • Anti-aging: Rooibos tea contains alpha hydroxy acid, a wrinkle-reducing ingredient not common in foods but typically found in skin treatment peels from dermatologist offices. The tea also contains superoxide dismutaste, an enzyme that works to slow down the development of wrinkles while increasing the production of healthy skin cells.

  • Eczema + acne: Rooibos tea contains zinc, an element known to help treat eczema, acne, and even sunburn. It also contains a high level of flavonoids which may help prevent eczema and acne.

  • Hair growth: Rooibos tea is rich in hair growth and strengthening promoting minerals such as calcium, zinc, copper, and potassium.

  • Grey hair preventing: High levels of copper in rooibos tea can help prevent premature gray hairs. This is because copper plays a role in the formation of melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color.


9. Moringa Oil

Although the moringa tree is native to India, it flourishes in Eastern Africa. In ancient Egypt, it was actually used to make perfume as well as protect skin.

Moringa oil’s benefits for your skin:

  • Hydrating: Moringa oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, including oleic acid. This means that the oil is super hydrating and supports the skin barrier, allowing your skin to seal in moisture and remain protected.

  • Healing: The oil is an emollient, which makes it a good ingredient to apply to minor cuts, burns, and scrapes.

  • Acne-fighting: The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of the oil help combat breakouts.

  • Balancing: Moringa oil is similar to our skin’s natural oil, allowing it to help balance sebum production without looking or feeling greasy.

  • Antioxidant: Moringa oil has a high vitamin E content, making it a great antioxidant.

10. Rhassoul Clay

Found in the Atlas mountains of Morocco, rhassoul clay (often known as “ghassoul clay” or “Moroccon red clay”) is a mineral-rich clay (specifically high in magnesium and potassium) that has been used by different cultures for over a thousand years. Rhassoul clay is known for its powerful cleansing abilities and the word “rhassoul” is actually an Arabic term that means “to wash.”

Rhassoul clay’s benefits for your skin + hair:

  • Detoxifying: Rhassoul clay is full of negatively charged metallic elements that draw out positively charged toxins from both your skin and hair. The elements bond to the toxins and are washed away along with the clay.

11. Yangu Oil

Yangu oil is cold-pressed and extracted from the fruit seeds of the Calodendrum capense tree (also known as the Cape Chestnut tree). The tree is native to Southern Africa.

Yangu oil’s benefits for your skin:

  • Moisturizing: Yangu oil contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, which are easily absorbed by our skin.

  • Protecting: Antioxidants in yangu oil naturally protect the skin from harmful UV rays while working to reverse free radical damage.

12. Mongongo Oil

Mongongo oil, also known as Manketti oil, comes from the nuts of Mongongo trees in Southern Africa.

Mongongo oil’s benefits for your skin + hair:

  • Protecting: Mongongo oil is highly emollient which makes it a great protectant for skin and hair.

  • Conditioning: The oil is high in oleic and linoleic acid, two saturated fatty acids that condition hair and skin and help unclog pores on the scalp.

  • Full of nutrients: Aside from the essential fatty acids mentioned above, mongongo oil contains vitamin E, copper, iron, calcium, and magnesium.

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Overwhelmed by the number of African beauty secrets and don’t know where to start?




  • Our Bintumani hair oil, drawing inspiration from Sierra Leone’s highest point, Mt. Bintumani, contains argan oil to restore shine, strengthen hair, and nourish facial hair.



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