It was the first day of Wilderness Festival 2016 and my 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. We 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.
Formulated in Hackney, loved by Liberty and Anthropologie
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 with cult beauty brand Liha 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. We softened this down in our mixing bowls and then mixed in some coconut oil. 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.
‘Beat until light and fluffy,’ said Abi, handing out the whisks. Whilst Jo was quickly achieving soft white peaks, mine looked more akin to chicken soup. Abi added a touch more shea, which did the trick, and soon I was back on track.
Once the consistency was right, it was time to have fun with essential oils. We were given pretty printed cards to take away listing the different oils available, and a little about their benefits. 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. I added three drops of each, gave it all one last gentle whisk and then decanted to a simple, brown glass jar.
Labelled and lovely
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. 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. 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.