Alaffia - Beautiful Curls Defining Gel for Wavy to Curly Hair - 8 oz. (235 ml)
Alaffia Beautiful Curls Defining Gel for Wavy to Curly Hair, with certified Fair Trade Shea Butter, herbal extracts and plant gels hydrate and define waves and curls. With natural vitamins for shiny, lustrous, long-lasting curls, this all natural gel reduces frizz and provides residue-free soft hold for natural styles of all kinds. Also great for finger styling, twist-outs and braiding.
Beautiful Curls Activating Leave-In Conditioner for Curly to Kinky Hair Contains:
- No Sulfates
- No Animal Testing
- No Gluten
- No Paraben
- No Synthetic Fragrances
- Package Material is Biodegradable
Beautiful Curls projects are made with only unrefined, handcrafted, certified fair trade shea butter.
Traditional Handcrafted Shea Butter
Traditionally handcrafting Shea butter is a long process involving several critical steps. Alaffia Handcrafted Shea butter is made with care by their cooperative members in Togo, West Africa. Women in their communities have been extracting Shea butter in this manner for generations. The first step in the handcrafting process is collecting ripe Shea fruits. The fruits are sustainably harvested from wild Shea trees by women and their families. This harvest provides a welcome income for these typically disadvantaged members of society. After harvest, the fruit and shell are removed, and the remaining kernels, or “nuts” are sun dried and sorted.
When the dried nuts are received, they are washed to remove dust and debris, dried and sorted for quality. The sorted nuts are then crushed, roasted to decrease moisture content and further ground to a thick paste. This paste is mixed with clean, potable water and whipped by hand until the fats begin to separate. This separation process takes from one to three hours. After the oils rise and are separated, they are skimmed off, melted and strained into basins. The cooling oil is stirred very carefully to initialize the crystallization process and form the oil into shea butter. The stirring process is crucial in making a creamy shea butter, as it helps the crystals align as the butter solidifies. The crystallization process can take up to 24 hours in warmer weather.
Traditional, Unrefined vs. Refined Shea Butter
They take extreme care at each step in the traditional extraction process so the end result is the highest quality Shea butter possible. Since such care is taken during the extraction, they do not have to alter or process the Shea butter in any further way, and their customers receive the purest, most effective Shea butter.
Most Shea butter available to the general public outside West Africa is white and odorless since it has been “refined” to remove the natural scent and color. In the “refining” process, the majority of the effective agents are also removed. Refined Shea butter has usually been extracted with hexane or other petroleum solvents, which leave toxic residues in the butter. It is then bleached and deodorized, which involves temperatures over 400°F and treatment with harsh chemicals. Preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) may be added as well. The end result is an odorless, white butter that lacks the true moisturizing, healing, and nutritive properties of handcrafted and unrefined Shea butter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is shampooing necessary?
While it is true that too much shampooing or using shampoos with harsh detergents can dry the scalp and hair, shampooing correctly is a vital part of a healthy hair regime.
How often to shampoo?
Shampooing frequency depends on hair texture and curl pattern. Finer, loose curls may require more frequent shampoos than wiry, tight spirals. Alaffia recommends shampooing at most every other day, and some individuals may shampoo only once a week.
Why does shampooing help hair absorb conditioners?
Beautiful Curls shampoos are made with a traditional shea butter and virgin coconut oil soap. This soap opens or raises the cuticles on the hair shaft, exposing the inner cortex and allowing it to absorb the conditioning oils. Warm water also raises the cuticles, so rinsing with warm water will also help prepare the hair to receive conditioners.
Should I shampoo the ends of my hair?
Alaffia recommends shampooing primarily in the scalp area. There are two exceptions - one, if you hair is extremely soiled or has excessive product buildup, and two - if you are creating or maintaining locs. Because the cuticles of the hair are raised during shampooing, they will catch and lock onto each other if rubbed together excessively. This is great if you are creating locs, but not good if trying to minimize tangles.
Why do I need to condition my hair?
The primary function of conditioners is to add moisture to the hair shaft. However, this is not their only function - otherwise they would be called “hair moisturizers.” Hair conditioners actually provide many important functions, including:
- Restoring the pH of the hair shaft to its natural, slightly acidic state, which smoothes the cuticle (smooth cuticle = soft, shiny and sleek hair) and reduces static.
- Replacing oils and moisture that were removed by shampooing and daily wear - plumping the inner cortex, which results in healthier, stronger hair.
- Protecting the hair shaft from environmental damage and oxidizing free radicals.
- Detangling - smoothing the cuticles helps reduce tangles, but shea butter, coconut oil and vitamins also provide “slip,” improving the combability of hair when wet.
Shea Butter's Benefits For Curls
Shea butter's excellent emollient properties and high vitamin and mineral content, make it a beneficial hair ingredient for all hair textures and curl types.
- Shea butter is an excellent moisturizer, which helps prevent dry hair and scalp, prevent breakage and improve hair elasticity.
- Shea butter absorbs quickly into the scalp hydrating the hair and scalp without clogging the pores or causing build-up.
- Shea butter also contains multiple antioxidants and natural sun screening agents, protecting the hair from weather damages.
- Vitamins A, E and F, cinnamic esters, minerals and phytosterols help repair damaged, processed or heat treated hair and promote hair growth.
- The unique fatty acid profile of shea butter soothes, hydrates, balances and revitalizes the hair and scalp.
- Shea butter seals in moisture and closes hair cuticles, giving the hair a radiant shine and a luxurious healthy appearance.
- All Beautiful Curls products - shampoos, leave-in conditioners and styling aids - contain handcrafted, unrefined shea butter to make the hair softer, smoother and more manageable.
What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is a movement of individuals and organizations working to ensure that producers in poor countries receive a greater percentage of the price paid by consumers. While there are several definitions of fair trade, they all include:
- Fair Trade Price - base price for raw ingredients or goods is adjusted higher than the open market price
- Price Premium - a percentage above the base fair trade price is paid into a separate account for development projects in producer communities.
- Working Conditions - Fair Trade operators must adhere to basic human and labor rights - including the right to organize, no child labor, access to health care, and so on.
- Environmental Stewardship - Fair Trade organizations must minimize environmental impact.
What does Fair Trade Certified mean?
Fair Trade certification is an independent, neutral third party certification verifying that an organization upholds to fair trade, social and environmental standards in their operations.
Alaffia shea butter is certified Fair for Life - Social & Fair Trade by IMO - the Institute for Marketecology, one of the first and most renowned international inspection & certification agencies for organic and social (fair trade) accountability. IMO's Fair for Life certification combines strict social and fair trade standards with adaptability to local conditions.
Why is Fair Trade of shea butter important?
Unrefined shea butter is a valuable natural resource for West Africa and could be an important tool in empowering local communities. However, most shea butter on the market in the United States and Europe is not fairly traded. Without fair trade, the women who gather shea nuts and hand craft this remarkable oil receive only a tiny fraction of the final price.
It is estimated to take 20 to 30 hours of labor to produce one kilogram of handcrafted shea butter, which is traded at $1 or less in today's market. A woman making shea butter in West Africa will receive only a fraction of this price. Therefore, a person working for 30 hours, almost a week's worth of work, will not receive even a dollar for her efforts. Even if she received the whole dollar, this does not even begin to reach living wage standards.
Alaffia/Beautiful Curls Fair Trade Shea Butter
The cost to handcraft shea butter at the Alaffia Cooperative is over two times the price of shea butter at West African ports.Why is Alaffia's cost higher?
- Nut prices - They pay 15-25% above market price for shea nuts
- Fair wages - Alaffia's cooperative members receive a salary that is more than 4 times the average family income in Togo.
- Benefits - Cooperative members also receive full medical care, employment security, and one paid month of vacation each year.
Alaffia was created to help West African communities become sustainable through the fair trade of indigenous resources. One key to sustainability is empowerment of individuals within the communities. They encourage empowerment through their community projects, their women's cooperatives, and education and involvement in their customer communities. They firmly believe that the cooperation of people across the world is as essential part of building sustainability in all their communities.
What Does Empowerment Mean?
As individuals who have the good fortune of education and experience, it is their moral duty to be conscious and aware of the situations of people who are less fortunate. By empowerment, they mean identifying what individuals and communities have at their disposal - resources, skills, knowledge, and traditions - and supporting or creating initiatives in which they can use these tools and resources within their means. They feel that this gives individuals and communities a sustainable way to improve their quality of life, in contrast to relying on outside aid programs and World Bank/IMO loans.
Empowerment through Fair Trade
Women in West Africa have long been excluded from the formal education sector, which means many cannot read or write. This makes them less valuable as employees, and as such, they do not have many employment opportunities. One could "empower" these women by teaching them to read and write, and helping them to find employment. However, with their women's cooperatives, they look at what these women have to offer that no one else does - their unique skills, traditions and knowledge. Then, they compensate them at fair value for these skills. As a result, they gain income and livelihoods to support their families, while maintaining traditions and managing a sustainable resource.
Community Empowerment Projects
While individual women are empowered through their participation in their cooperatives, they also strongly believe in spreading the empowerment to the community level. Through the sales of their shea butter products, they raise funds for community projects in central Togo aimed at alleviating poverty and advancing gender equality. These projects target problems that they have identified as holding back communities - such as exclusion from education, maternal deaths and environmental degradation. Again, the support for these projects comes from the fair trade of traditional, sustainable knowledge and resources. Alaffia's projects include:
- Bicycles for Education - Since 2005, they have collected and sent over 3,000 used bicycles to disadvantaged students in Togo so they can get to and from school.
- Maternal Health - Each year, Alaffia provides pre and post natal care to 70 women in central Togo to help reduce high maternal death rates in West Africa.
- School Supplies & Repairs - Alaffia donates metal roofs, seats and school supplies to schools in rural Togo to help communities educate their youth.
- Reforestation & Environment - To combat effects of climate change and deforestation by planting trees and building home biogas units.
Fair Trade Certification
The Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative creates economic opportunity for women who were denied access to education and whose skills and knowledge are undervalued in today's societies. The cooperative members receive fair wages and also are able to maintain and pass on their traditional knowledge of handcrafting shea butter. In addition, cooperative members are fully involved in community project planning and implementation. As a result, they gain economic and social equality in their families and communities.
American Community Involvement
One of their primary goals is to provide an avenue for people in the United States to learn about other cultures and to inform them how they can work to better all their communities. There are several ways in which they do this:
- Alaffia's Products - Each and every product contains information on their community empowerment and gender equality efforts.
- Volunteer Opportunities - They welcome volunteers for their bicycles for education donation drives and other projects. They also have volunteer opportunities at their facility in Lacey, WA.
- Trainings, Presentations and Tours - They welcome visits and tours of their facility in Lacey, WA. Here, they also offer occasional soap making classes and trainings. In addition, they make several public presentations across the USA and Canada each year.
Moral Beginnings - Moral Goals
Every day they hear news about natural and man-made disasters, wars, environmental degradation - and it is easy to become pessimistic about humanity and the future. Problems include, but are not limited to:
- Growing disparities between those who have and those who have not
- Increasing populations while resources continue to decline
- Gender inequality, child poverty, even child trafficking and slavery abound
- Degraded, abused environments that are losing resiliency and ability to recover
- Global climate change is disrupting formerly predictable rain patterns and water availability
But at the same time, they live in an age of unparalleled communication and dialog between communities across the world. The global connections give us advantages and opportunities as individuals to make changes for the better. Furthermore, information is readily available to most everyone in the world - and when informed, they can do anything.
Discover Beautiful Curls
Beautiful Curls was created by Alaffia to further their goal of empowering individuals and communities through the fair trade of handcrafted shea butter. With simple formulations, honest ingredients, and fair trade principles, Beautiful Curls strives for healthy hair, healthy communities and a healthy planet.
Beautiful Curls is based on the belief that beauty comes in all forms - and beautiful hair is no different. Beautiful Curls are loose waves, big curls, medium spirals, tight springy coils and all things in between. Beautiful Curls are healthy curls. Just as diet and internal health are important for hair, so is external care. their rich shea butter formulas moisturize and nurture for healthy, shiny and happy curls of all types.
History and Background
Alaffia was founded by Olowo-n’djo Tchala in 2004 to support community empowerment projects in his home country of Togo. After first setting up a fair trade women’s shea butter cooperative in Togo to produce high-quality, traditionally handcrafted shea butter, Olowo-n’djo realized the maximum benefit to his communities would come from offering this indigenous product directly to consumers in the form of natural, premium skin care products. The proceeds from the sales of these products not only supports the women of the shea butter cooperative, but is also used to fund empowerment projects throughout the central region of Togo. In 2010, Olowo-n’djo founded Beautiful Curls to further Alaffia’s support of the cooperative and community projects - and offer an effective, natural alternative to individuals with curly hair.
Beautiful Curls products are formulated by Prairie Rose Hyde, Olowo-n’djo’s wife. With degrees in Plant Biochemistry and Ethnobotany, Rose combines Alaffia handcrafted shea butter with botanical extracts, vitamins and minerals specific to curly hair.
Beautiful Curls formulas are based on shampoo, conditioner and styling products that Rose created for their two young daughters. Beautiful Curls formulas are the accumulation of over 8 years of experimentation and research.
Beautiful Curls shea butter is handcrafted by the Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative in Sokodé, Togo West Africa. The Alaffia Cooperative is made up of over 300 women from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds. They all have been handcrafting shea butter their entire lives, a skill they learned as young children from their mothers and grandmothers.
Beautiful Curls products are handmade from this shea butter, packed and shipped in Lacey WA by the Alaffia Team, a diverse and dedicated group of individuals. With the help of the Alaffia Sales & Service Team, your sales are returned to West Africa to fund their community empowerment projects.