Welcome to Beauty & The Beat, R29 Unbothered UK’s new beauty column. Each fortnight, we’re spilling the tea on the latest products made for Black women and gender nonconforming people across hair, makeup and skincare.
When I was at school, my teacher confiscated the bottle of lotion I was using to slather my skin after swimming practice. Soon after, my Jamaican father wrote my teacher a two-page letter, schooling them on the science of melanin and why Black people need to keep their skin hydrated and moisturised. It was then that I realised moisturising isn’t just for vanity. For Black people, it’s essential. Why? Darker skin types are prone to dryness, which leads to dull skin and loss of shine. Being ‘ashy’ is a cardinal sin.
So when Cantu Beauty – a brand I have relied upon to keep my natural hair hydrated and moisturised for over a decade – announced it was launching a line of body care products, I screamed. While not Black-owned, Cantu Beauty remains one of the most popular haircare brands for Black women with curly and coily hair types. From its Jamaican Castor Oil collection to the popular Shea Butter Leave-In Conditoner, £6.99 (a personal favourite), Cantu’s products are a staple in Black households across the diaspora. Now, the brand has launched Cantu Skin Therapy, a line of moisturising and fast-absorbing body products specially formulated to provide long-lasting moisture to dry skin.
Like its haircare line, the eight-piece collection features creams and lotions made with natural moisturising ingredients such as shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil. They are all dermatologically approved and free from things like sulphates (which may cause irritation for some) as well as mineral oil and petrolatum, which can potentially clog some skin types. None of the products is tested on animals and similar to haircare, the line is affordable, ranging from £6.99 for 156g to £8.99 for 473ml. The products are available at Boots, LookFantastic, ASOS and CantuBeauty.com.
As soon as I jumped out of the shower, I bypassed my Nivea lotion and reached for the Hydrating Raw Blend with Cocoa Butter, £6.99. Alongside the star moisturising ingredient, you’ll find 100% shea butter and coconut oil. Cocoa butter is rich in vitamin E so it protects skin from the environment while nourishing deep down and keeping skin supple. I covered my whole body in it, including my face (pre-SPF – controversial, I know), and it left my skin feeling toned, smooth and hydrated. The smell is subtle, too, not overbearing like some body butters out there. It worked really well on my knees, elbows and even my dry lips, and didn’t leave my skin feeling greasy or looking too shiny, either.
Next I tried the Coconut Oil Hydrating Body Lotion, £8.99, and this I really loved. It’s similar to Nivea’s iconic lotion but isn’t as difficult to rub in. It promised to keep my skin fully moisturised throughout the day. If I had any dry patches in particular, mostly under my arms or behind my knees, I rubbed in extra and it worked a treat. The best thing about the collection is that each product is totally versatile. Not only do they work on your skin but they can be adapted for use in your hair, too. I used some of the Mango Butter Raw Blend, £6.99, around my hairline, which is sometimes prone to dryness, especially on hot days and if I’ve been sweating. I also added a small amount to the ends of my hair for added moisture.
I had high expectations for Cantu’s first ever skincare range but overall, I’m really impressed. I’ve been using Cantu Beauty products for so long that I’d have been surprised if they completely messed up their body care range. For the amount you get of each product, the price is an absolute steal. I don’t want to see any ashy ankles or elbows this summer.
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