There is a deep-rooted culture in Latin America, where beauty traditions and holistic rituals, often grounded in natural ingredients, are passed on from generation to generation. And now, a new guard of Latinx entrepreneurs are invested in sharing with a broader market the organic beauty secrets of their heritage.
“Latin America is the most biodiverse region in the world,” says Giovanna Campagna, the founder of the South American skincare brand Joaquina Botánica. “In terms of natural ingredients to work with, there are just endless possibilities.” The region’s tropical rainforests and verdant coastlines host a trove of rare plant species boasting antioxidants and curative benefits that are mostly unknown to those outside of the area.
This enterprising set is looking to not only promote their motherland but also to give back to their Indigenous communities by taking part in fair trade and sustainable practices. They are careful not to be exploitative and try to ensure a more collaborative process. Most provide fair prices and wages for raw materials and labor, take part in reforesting initiatives, or employ local cooperatives that practice non-invasive harvesting methods.
We’ve compiled a short list of the best Latinx skin, hair and body wellness brands that have exported their region’s heralded formulas and natural homeopathic ingredients stateside.
As a former fashion editor and consultant, Giovanna Campagna was used to scouring the international market and introducing Latin American labels, such as Johanna Ortiz and Hunting Season, to the American fashion scene. While visiting her family in Colombia, Campagna had an epiphany and decided to acquaint the rest of the world with the little-known supercharged ingredients indigenous to the region. Debuting earlier this year, Joaquina Botánica—named after her great-great-grandmother’s apothecary in Cali, Colombia—has a roster of two skincare products so far: a facial oil, whose star ingredient is the antioxidant-rich extract of orchids, Colombia’s national flower, and a recently launched hydrating essence that incorporates the Amazonian superfruit sacha inchi, which is bountiful in omega fatty acids, peptides and polyphenols.
When designer Francisco Costa parted ways with Calvin Klein three years ago after serving as its creative director of womenswear, he instantly knew what he was going to do: create a genderless beauty line that was deferential to the natural wonders of his homeland in Brazil. The resulting sustainable bath and body lifestyle brand is one that nourishes the frame and soul of an individual through the untapped wealth of the earth. Breu branco—a natural oleo-resin with a complex woodsy aroma of crushed leaves and soil that’s been favored by the inhabitants of the jungles of the Amazon for centuries—is heavily rotated throughout the collection to balance your sixth chakra, enhance focus, and reduce stress.
In certain Latin-Caribbean communities, the term pelo malo (bad hair) is often used to describe highly textured hair types. Looking to celebrate the diversity and beauty of natural curls and coils and her Afro-Latinx heritage, Lulu Cordero developed Bomba, a clean haircare brand that uses organic ingredients and unique recipes from the Dominican Republic in its healthy hair growth treatments. Its award-winning hair mask combines cinnamon—a scalp stimulant renowned for its antifungal and antimicrobial properties—with pistachio oil—a ceramide and biotin-rich compound—plus turmeric in a highly emollient base of cupuaçu butter.
Looking to banish the notion of Mexican products as being cheap and substandard, founder Sandra Velasquez created the elevated botanical bath and body brand to compete within the fancy high-end beauty space, wherein French and Italian names proliferate. The Nopal cactus, more commonly referred to as prickly pear—an ancient symbol of Mexican culture hailed for its hearty and resilient nature—can be found in the line’s artisanal soaps, exfoliant, and moisturizing bar. Substitute large bottles of lotion with the latter solid; it comes stored in a recyclable, compact tin and delivers deep hydration to the skin.
Taking an inside out approach is at the root basis of this hair wellness enterprise. Guava, the call-out hero ingredient in its new summer lineup, is a staple in various Latin American cuisines and cultures. The tropical delight is rich in antioxidants and provides five times as much vitamin C than an orange. It also is superior in shielding your strands from free-radical damage from UV and blue-light exposure. For the days when your locks need a bit of repair, try the leave-in conditioner enhanced with tamarind and safflower to strengthen and nourish follicles from within. Or, spritz a bit of the rescue spray loaded with butterfly ginger and avocado when spending a day out in the sun to minimize environmental stressors.
With its EWG clean stamp of approval, Elaluz (which translates to “she is light” in Portugese) is certifiably legit. The brainchild of the Brazilian mega-influencer Camila Coelho, its non-toxic makeup, hair and body formulas are free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates and 1,600 of the other known impurities banned by the E.U. Fans can’t get enough of the monthly drops of glow-inducing must-haves jam-packed with exotic-sounding superfoods, plant extracts and oils—such as cacay (a natural retinol), buriti (an amazing moisturizer), and andiroba (a powerful antioxidant)—straight from the wilds of the rainforest.
Moringa seed oil is the mainstay in this family-owned organic wellness and skincare operation sustainably made in the DR. The economic development of the local community and its environmental impact drives the company’s ethos. Moringa trees are exceptionally drought-resistant—their successful cultivation are a valuable asset in the fight against malnutrition and skin diseases, in areas increasingly affected by climate change. The lineup’s bio-available formulas, which are ultra-rich in vitamin E, are created in a solar-panel covered lab using cold-pressed techniques. Current obsessions include a rejuvenating hair serum for luscious, shiny locks, an anti-inflammatory face oil that helps with pesky breakouts, and a cacao-scented lip balm for an amazingly soft pout.
Sol de Janeiro
Capitalizing on the power and efficacy of nutrient-rich ingredients sourced from the Amazonian jungles, such as camu camu, cupuaçu and guaraná, the Brazilian body and hair care brand Sol de Janeiro is on a mission to spread head-to-toe joy. In Rio, the city’s contagious carnaval culture is ultra-confident and inhibition-free, especially when it comes to celebrating the sun and body, particularly the bunda (ass in Brazilian Portugese) or in more polite terms the bum bum. The label’s deliciously scented signature bottom-enhancing cream is a consistent sell-out at Sephora. But even an ordinary sundry such as aluminum-free deodorant gets the “girl from Ipanema” twirl when it’s concocted with antimicrobial coconut oil, papaya enzymes and tapioca starch from cassavas.