Instead of bowing down to outdated standards of perfect skin and hair a Cape Town entrepreneur, Gugulethu Ntombela, created her own vegan beauty range inspired by nature.
Ntombela says she created Ngwedi Beauty because she felt excluded and unseen on beauty shelves in leading supermarkets. Being diagnosed with eczema in 2017 was the final push she needed to create her range of handmade skin and hair products.
“The emotion that inspired me to make my own skincare products was frustration. I was not finding the right products for my chronically dry skin in the shops,” Ntombela tells Health For Mzansi.
“At the time, I thought I had an allergic reaction but then the doctor informed me otherwise. I thought the only way out was through medical creams that contained cortisone. I used them for a few months, but they did not work for me, and I didn’t have medical aid at the time to get more [of the prescribed products].”
So, her true healing came from nature. Nature is beautiful and we come from it, she says. And it only made sense to turn to Mother Nature for the tools to heal her skin and embrace her natural beauty.
‘My skin, my armour’
Skin conditions like eczema and acne are some of the most common conditions that exacerbate skin and beauty insecurities. The 25-year-old Ntombela was no different.
“I didn’t have much self-confidence when the breakouts got bad,”she says.
She adds, “After the first time I used whipped shea butter. That became the standard way I used shea butter on my skin. My friends and family started to notice the health and glow in my skin and would ask what I was using.”
While others may find it challenging to experiment with their skin and hair, her journey has been one of self-discovery.
“It was all a great and fun experiment, I tested my products on my own skin and that of my loved ones,” she says.
‘I knew I was onto something’
Shea butter is fat that’s extracted from the nuts of the shea tree.
It’s solid at warm temperatures and has an off-white or ivory colour. Shea trees are native to West Africa, and most shea butter still comes from that region.
“After realising that the base ingredient, shea butter, worked for my skin I tried numerous other oils on my skin and stuck to the best ones. And ever since I used shea butter, I never looked back. It healed my skin and moisturised it well.”
The magic to healthy skin does not always lie in the shea butter though. Ntombela also follows a healthy diet to maintain healthy skin and hair.
“My skin’s health is great, and I also apply my body butter on a daily basis, and it has kept the eczema away. Ever since I switched to whipped shea butter, I have had no issues. I don’t currently use prescribed creams,” she says.
“People might not be aware that their skin is absorbent and will take in anything put on it, including cancer-causing ingredients. I decided to step up, overcome my insecurities and bring some magic into peoples’ skincare and haircare routines.”
She further urges South Africans to reject the notion that light skin is better and brighter. “Young women to embrace their skin,” she says. “Use natural products that will enhance their natural beauty rather than hide it,” she emphasises.