Hanahana Beauty, a consciously clean skincare, is disrupting the global beauty industry with its mission to increase accessibility, transparency, and sustainability in all aspects of its products. Founded by Abena Boamah-Acheampong, the brand is focused on uplifting women of color and sourcing natural ingredients responsibly.
The idea for Hanahana Beauty was born from Abena’s desire to feel truly confident in her skin. Frustrated with the lack of transparency in the beauty industry, she decided to go back to basics and turn to a product that she knew worked—shea butter. Abena realized she could create a line of skincare products that prioritized natural, nourishing ingredients. What sets Hanahana Beauty apart is its commitment to fair sourcing of shea butter from the Katariga Women’s Shea Cooperative in Ghana, where women are paid a fair wage for their labor. The brand’s products are made with shea butter directly from this cooperative, combined with natural oils to create nourishing skincare products that leave your skin smooth and moisturized.
But Hanahana Beauty is more than just a skincare brand—it’s a movement. By prioritizing sustainability and transparency, the brand challenges traditional beauty standards and encourages women to embrace their natural beauty. With a focus on uplifting women of color, Hanahana Beauty is making a difference in the lives of those who work with them and use their products. And now, on the brand’s sixth anniversary, they are expanding their reach in collaboration with mega-retailer Ulta. This expansion impacts shoppers and other skincare brands by giving visibility to products that prioritize nourishing ingredients and fair labor practices.
In an interview with ESSENCE, founder Abena goes into the origin of Hanahana Beauty, what this expansion means to her, the impact she hopes to continue making on her community, and what’s next for the rising beauty brand.
Can you tell ESSENCE readers how you got started?
I was inspired to create Hanahana Beauty while teaching in Chicago and finishing grad school for counseling psychology. I was interested in creating products that could maintain the skin I wanted—a product that would leave my skin smooth, not ashy, and could withstand the Chicago cold. So, I decided to start making products for myself. And after a couple of years, my friends and family encouraged me to start my business. I launched Hanahana Beauty in 2017. Since then, we’ve been on a path focused on intentional growth.
Congratulations on all of your brand’s success! What does this expansion into Ulta mean to you?
This expansion into Ulta means a lot when it comes to reaching customers. We always talk about accessibility as a brand, as far as social impact, but also when it comes to the accessibility of our product. And being on the shelves at Ulta allows us to introduce Hanahana Beauty to many people that we couldn’t reach through our own organic marketing. This is big—this is a part of the dream for Hanahana Beauty, which is to become a household name.
Alongside this expansion came a rebranding of the packaging. What is the inspiration behind the new packaging, and what can customers expect?
One of the things that inspired us to change the packaging was that we wanted it to feel like a better experience. Another thing that inspired the change was our customers. Everyone kept sharing that they wanted larger sizes. And that’s something that we’d been hearing for some time since we moved to 6.8 ounces. And the only way for us to meet customers’ needs was to move away from glass. I was hesitant about this decision because we’ve been pushing for sustainability and the reusability of our glass packaging. With all these things in mind, we upgraded the packaging to recyclable plastic. Another great opportunity for us to look at our environmental efforts with our packaging, while still being retail-ready. It has allowed us to lower our carbon emissions, it’s lighter weight, and it’s just an easier experience for those in production working on the product and those receiving it.
Shea butter is a key ingredient in your cream. Can you speak to your history with the spotlight ingredient?
Shea butter has been used not only in Ghana but in many northern regions and West African countries. It first started as a traditional production based on family and tradition, and women created it for their families to help with the dry weather. Over time it has been commercialized and is used in all kinds of beauty and skincare products, not just body butter. And for me, the history behind it is that I’ve been using shea butter since I was a child. We call it “nukto.” My mom used to make it even for us, adding clove oil and different things. I’ve used it for many years.
Community and outreach are so important to you and the brand to the point that you have created Hanahana Circle of Care. What are you hoping to achieve with this non-profit organization?
Hanahana’s Circle of Care and anything around community outreach is a part of our mission. Our goal is to bring a level of humanity into the beauty space. And for us, it’s how we create a sustainable path for the people creating our products and then for our customers. What we strive for with Hanahana’s Circle of Care is to give our producers livable wages by paying two times the asking price, creating access to health care, and optimizing for the producers we work with.
What goals have you already met with this project?
Since 2018, we’ve achieved six biannual healthcare days, which has served over 1000 women and children in the Katara neighborhood. We’re currently expanding the health education that we do once a month. This includes reproductive health teachings for schools in producer’s communities. The point around Hanahana’s Circle of Care is not only for us to be impactful but for us to inspire other brands and people working with producers to work in an intentional way that sustains them and helps them grow.
Ghana is central to this outreach and is one of your main suppliers of the cream. Can you speak to your connections with the community and sustainable sourcing practices?
I’m Ghanian, and it’s important that if I create a business that uses supplies or ingredients from Ghana, I want to make sure that I can give back and be impactful in a positive way. I wanted to intentionally create projects and initiatives that the community wanted and needed. All the practices around sourcing are sustainable or ethical and have been created intentionally so as not to be harmful to the producers and the environment.
What should someone new to the brand know about the body butters, and how can they add it to their daily routine?
Our whipped body butter is for anyone that experiences dry skin. It’s for those who want to feel smooth. It’s not just for black women. Black women inspire it, but it’s for everyone. And for us, the benefits are how moisturizing it is for the skin. It helps with hydration and gives you a gorgeous glow. I like to tell people they should use our shea body butter on damp skin, but you can use it daily, after you shower, or before you go to bed. If you’re out and about and you catch some dryness, that’s another great way to utilize it. When it comes to skin nutrition, it’s a perfect detoxifying mask for people that experience congested skin. So, it can also be used weekly or twice a week. But at the end of the day, we’re creating products that are non-stripping and have multiple benefits for nourishing the skin.
What impact are you hoping to make on your sixth anniversary now and in the future?
The impact I would like Hanahana to continue to make not only in sales, but we want to be a household name—a brand that people can trust. We wanted to be known for the ethical standards we have set for our products and how they are sustainably sourced, not negatively impacting those communities we are sourcing from. But I also want to be an inspiration to other entrepreneurs that are creating brands and that are moving intentionally. Sustainability is very expensive. Being intentional doesn’t come with quick results, but it’s about working towards things and growing. I want people to feel inspired by watching our growth and seeing us fulfill the mission we shared six years ago.
You can purchase Hanahana Beauty at Ulta.com and HanahanaBeauty.com.