It was the first day of Wilderness Festival 2016 and my lovely friend Jo and I were doing the rounds to decide which creative workshops to book into our schedule. We’d already opted for the Make Your Own Willow and Foraged Greenery Headdress and had decided we weren’t really feeling it for wooden spoon whittling or silver cuttlefish jewellery casting. Then we came across the Liha stand and I knew I’d read about this brand before.
The duo behind the brand - Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan – met whilst studying at university and both have roots tracing back to Nigeria. Together they have created a stylishly packaged range of natural beauty products that are formulated in Hackney in East London and hand poured in small batches in their Cheltenham studio. Featured by Vogue magazine and stocked in London’s Liberty and Anthropologie stores, Liha is fast becoming a cult beauty brand outside of London. The products are 100% natural, wildcrafted and organic.
Did we want to learn how to make Shea Whipped Body Lotion that would work as hair and face mask, all over skin saver and beautifier? Yes. We. Did.
The workshop started with Abi giving us all a generous spoon of raw shea butter in our steel mixing bowls which we softened down before a similar amount of Coconut oil was added. Shea is, Abi told us, the ultimate African beauty secret and Liha prides itself on having sourced the very best organic raw Shea butter from West Africa.
We were given whisks and asked to work the mixture until light and fluffy. Whilst Jo was quickly achieving soft white peaks, mine looked more akin to chicken soup until Abi added a touch more shea which did the trick and soon I was back on track.
Once the consistency was light and fluffy, it was time to have fun with essential oils. We were given pretty printed cards to take away showing all the different oils available, with a little about their particular benefits and where they sit on the fragrance spectrum – with top notes, base notes and many in between. The idea is to find a combination of 3 or 4 oils that blend well together and offer properties that are right for you. Liha is clearly expert at this and gave us all plenty of help by suggesting oils to mix with those we already liked. I went for Geranium, Sweet Orange and Neroli as I wanted something floral and uplifting. Three drops of each went in and then a last gentle whisk to mix before decanting the now very fragrant soft white fluffy mixture to a brown glass jar.
All that remained was to create a simple label, using a Dymo label writer. I went for a slightly pedantic title, I now realise, simply listing the essential oils I’d used in case I forgot, and now wish I’d gone for something more evocative like some of the others in the workshop. My favourite was Wilderness Whip.
I am supposed to be allowing my little pot of loveliness (above) to ‘cure’ like a good soap in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks, to allow everything to meld in together, but I haven’t been able to resist using it. The texture is soft, mousse-like and smoothes into a light gleaming layer as it goes onto your skin. I love the scent I created too. Best of all, when it’s gone I now know how to make more. I have also ordered my own Dymo label writer so I can get more creative with the label next time!
If you’d like to have a go yourself, here’s a cute film by Liha and Abi showing you exactly how:
As well as offering workshops, Liha sells a range of organic, hand-made beauty products from their own Shop website here >>