Brand Break Down: SheaMoisture

Updated: Mar 16

*This feature is not sponsored or paid for in any way by SheaMoisture or any other invested party

**This feature has had no input from SheaMoisture and will be updated if/when they respond to requests for information



SheaMoisture is a familiar brand to many, especially those with naturally curly and wavy hair. The brand's different ranges for different curly hair types are firm favourites among those who follow the CG (curly girl/guy) method. They also have a wide range of products for men, babies, skin care, and body care. As an added bonus, they're one of the most accessible brands in terms of both price and availability (tons of places, online and offline, stock them). They also advertise the brand's products as "natural, sustainably-produced goodness" that strives to be free of nasty ingredients, free trade, and never tested on animals.

The popular Coconut & Hibiscus line for curly hair

On their labels is the story of a family business started by Sofi Tucker who sold shea butter, African black soap, and homemade beauty products in Sierra Leonne in 1912. The brand still honours that today by formulating their products with raw shea butter handcrafted by African women. SheaMoisture also honours the entrepreneurial spirit that started their company by reinvesting in African communities through their Community Commerce programs using the proceeds from every sale.

(More on this later)



We reached out to the SheaMoisture team to learn more about the brand, however, as of the time of writing, they have not responded to requests for information. So, here is what we know, so far.



OWNERSHIP

SheaMoisture was founded by Liberians Nyema Tubman and Mary and Richelieu Dennis. It is now owned by USA-based Sundial Brands, one of the largest black-owned businesses in America, which was acquired by Unilever in 2017. They operate as a standalone unit within the conglomerate and is currently led by CEO Cara Sabin. Sundial Brands is B Corp certified.



INGREDIENTS & RAW MATERIALS

SheaMoisture promises customers "safe and uncompromising beauty" that leaves out harmful ingredients like parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, petroleum, and formaldehyde, to name a few. Instead of these, they use certified organic, natural, and fair trade ingredients.

The brand's website has an extensive list of these ingredients. Clicking on each one also takes you to a page that lists all products that the ingredient in question is present in - pretty handy for allergies and sensitivities.



SOURCING & PRODUCTION

As a B Corp certified company, SheaMoisture is proud of sustainably producing their products. Their hero ingredient, shea butter, is fair trade and handcrafted by women in Africa. They also source all of their key ingredients from small businesses across their global supply chain.


SheaMoisture's fair trade status is proudly displayed on the labels of all their products and they state on their website that they are "pioneering fair trade through Community Commerce at home and abroad."

SheaMoisture products are PETA certified cruelty free. The brand's website states that all their products are "tested on our family for four generations, never on animals."


However, despite all these claims on their labels and website, we have failed to find actual certifications that they hold to certify their Fair Trade status. If/when we do or if we hear back from their team, we will update this post.



PACKAGING & RECYCLING OPTIONS

We have yet to receive a response to requests for information on SheaMoisture's packaging and postage packaging. This will be updated if/when we hear from their team.


As far as we know, SheaMoisture still uses plastic packaging for most, if not all, of their products. We don't know what their plastics are made of and how they make them, however, as far as we can tell, their packaging should be recyclable at any facility that accepts plastic recycling.



GIVING BACK & ADVOCACY

SheaMoisture is involved in a lot of advocacy and charity work as part of their Community Commerce Programs. The company invests proceeds from every purchase into communities they support. They invest in women all over the world and are involved in educational and entrepreneurial programs "designed to create an inclusive and thriving society." A portion of every sale goes to developing "critical community infrastructure in Ghana such as a safer work environment, access to healthcare, and piped water that boosts production capacity and quality." In the USA, they invest in entrepreneurial and educational programs for women. So far, they've invested $6,100,000 into these Community Commerce Programs, purchased 700,000 KGs of fair trade, handcrafted shea butter from Ghana, and have 10,000 Ghanaian beneficiaries.


Here's a quick look at a few more of their programs.

The SheaMoisture Fellowship, in partnership with the Tuck School of Business, fully funds minority women executives, business owners and entrepreneurs to attend Dartmouth College’s Minority Business Executive program.


The Babson Scholarship is a one month intensive program at Babson College for young girls in high school who want to learn and cultivate their entrepreneurial skills.


SheaMoisture supports the Jackie Robinson Foundation in providing college scholarships and other resources for minority students.


They have also partnered with Hope For Youth and SMART Liberia for various initiatives for Community Commerce.


SheaMoisture has also recently announced a $1M fund to "support entrepreneurs of colour and small businesses." This was done with the intention to try minimising the financial disruptions that many have had to contend with because of COVID-19. Part of this initiative is the SheaMoisture Minority Business Fund for "minority-owned businesses that are finding creative ways to support their communities through COVID19" and the Online eLearning Hub for Minority Business Owners which is "an online virtual series that gives business owners access to resources, mentorship /leadership, and advice on how to prepare for economic downturn."


DIVERSITY & INCLUSIVITY

We have yet to receive a response from the SheaMoisture team but we will update this post once we do.


As we cannot comment on the diversity within the company as of yet, we can say that SheaMoisture's marketing and advertising heavily features Black and mixed race models and personalities with different skin and hair types. Their socials feeds also regularly posts art made by POC and features POC influencers.

@sheamoisture

Also, in the interest of transparency, we will mention that in 2017, SheaMoisture got in trouble with long-time Black supporters for not representing their Black customers (whose support built the brand into what it is today) properly in their advertising and marketing. Some found issue with their advertising which they felt excluded Black women and instead favoured mixed race, light skinned women. You can read more here and here. The controversy was addressed by the brand and you can find their statement here.


Making affordable, sustainable, and high-quality personal care products as accessible as possible is one of the core tenets of the Shea Moisture brand. From their wildly popular hair care lines to their body care, skin care, men, and baby lines, SheaMoisture strives to give customers the "natural, sustainably-produced goodness" that they've been known for throughout the years.


Have you tried SheaMoisture products? Let us know what you think!



SheaMoisture is available through various international stockists, both in-store or online.