The Skincare Collective- Is Shea Butter the secret to beautiful skin?
Tina here (+1 662 830 8246, email@example.com). Here is our latest blog, and Chapter 2 of our recently published book. As you might know, our sister company Terrain Publishing has published a book with Formule De Soin, with a few of our founders from Naked Actives. Every week, we will publish all 10 Chapters from this great read and published book. The title of the book is called Skincare Collective- Conversations with Friends: From all natural skincare to the impact of social media in the beauty industry. Click the link if you want to buy the book.
Interview with Debbie Van Grieken
Is Shea Butter the secret to beautiful skin?
Sarah from the Formule De Soin team sat down with owner of Moyaa Shea Butter, Debbie Van Grieken to find out everything about her Shea Butter line. Debbie shared that she has been one to use a more natural product or nothing at all, over cosmetics and chemically enhanced skincare. She’s the youngest looking “50-something” woman you will meet. She believes wholeheartedly that Shea Butter is the best kept secret for your skin. Her story of how Moyaa Shea Butter started is inspiring and heartwarming.
Read her story below and feel free to check her and her incredible products online.
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and Debbie and I agreed to connect via Zoom to discuss the company she started, Moyaa Shea Butter, her travels to Uganda and her experience with skin cancer. Did I also mention that Debbie is a mom of 5 and a grandma?
If you've never had the pleasure of meeting Debbie, you should head to her website (listed below) and introduce yourself to her. She is welcoming, has a wealth of knowledge and has an air of calm about her. I could have listened to her stories for hours. She calls herself an “accidental entrepreneur” but when you hear about how Moyaa Shea Butter started, you knew it was meant to be.
This is the story of Moyaa Shea Butter.
Debbie VanGrieken, a mom of 5 boys and part time librarian. During her spare time, she was a volunteer at the local high school where she mentored teens through a program called DREAM. During grade 11, these students had the opportunity for a Global Literacy trip to the EK Balam Ruins in Mexico. They lived in an eco resort in the middle of a Mayan village near recently discovered ruins. The students were immersed in village life including visiting the rural schools often having to walk several miles with the village kids. This experience was to connect with and understand other cultures and learn how we are all connected. How decisions we make in developing countries can have a direct impact on developing countries i.e. agricultural subsidies. Over these five trips, she learned all about fair trade and why we should all be putting people ahead of profits instead of the other way around.
Skin Cancer & Missionaries
Debbie discovered her skin cancer and had the surgery in December and went on her last student trip the following March. A friend of hers noticed the spot that she had been watching. It started to grow and spread to a second spot. That’s when her doctor friends encouraged her to have it tested. During that time, she started questioning everything from the type of products she was putting on her skin and how these were affecting her body. If it wasn’t for her friends (who were doctors) pushing her to go and get tested, it may have been much worse than it was. Thinking back, there were many things she realized that could have contributed to her cancer. From days when she was a child, playing out in the sun without sun protection or putting on baby oil as a teen to catch some rays, she knew it was time to take a hard look at how to take care of her skin. As she said, when she was a child, “we didn’t worry about staying out of the sun. We just played outside all day long.”
During that time, she met some missionaries selling Ugandan Shea butter. She started asking questions about Fair Trade, how the women making the products were paid and how Shea Butter helps your skin. She was so impressed and wanted to make an impact that she bought the remaining supplies from the missionaries and sold 2 containers, one to her mom and one to her sister and that is how Moyaa Shea Butter came to be.
Eager to get started she booked a trip with her doctor friends (yes the same ones who helped her with her cancer diagnosis) and hopped a plane to Northern Uganda. She spent countless hours researching the quality of the product, the fairness of the supply chain and working with the communities to help these women have fair and equitable pay. Many of these women didn’t have bank accounts and some didn’t even know their own birthdays. So she worked out a process, after she would pay the suppliers, they had to provide proof that the women working for her were paid.
Processing the Shea Butter
This process is fascinating as Debbie explained it. Moyaa’s Shea butter is East African Shea which means it has more essential fatty acids (25%) more than West African Shea. In skin care terms, this means that the shea butter melts into your skin easier, providing healing and anti-aging nourishment in the purest form possible.
Once the Shea is processed in Northern Uganda (Padair), it is driven 10 hours to the airport in Kampala. It is loaded onto a cargo flight from Air Ethiopia and flies into Toronto where Debbie herself picks it up and processes it through customs, an all day experience.
Benefits of Shea Butter
Shea Butter has been shown to have huge benefits to skin including healing properties and anti-aging nourishment. It can also help soothe and heal diaper rash, relieves itchiness due to dry skin and can minimize skin peeling after a sunburn. It contains high levels of Vitamin A, E & K and will help to hydrate and even out your skin tone as a single organic ingredient. The best thing of all is that East African Shea Butter has a shelf life of 2-3 years. Debbie refers to this product as the Holy Grail of skin care.
Some of Debbie’s fav beauty tips
- Simple is best, don’t complicate things
- Good skin care is better than great makeup
- Know what’s in your product and how it’s made
What’s in the Future for Moyaa Shea Butter
In addition to creating and selling her own products she also sells her Shea Butter to Cheekbone Beauty and LipService Beauty. She wants to continue educating women on the importance of natural beauty products and always doing your research on ingredients in your beauty products. You can have it all, you just have to do the research.
We were inspired by Debbie’s story and wanted to include it in this book for our readers. To find out more about Moyaa Shea Butter, you can visit them online at https://www.moyaasheabutter.com/
Debbie van Grieken is a mother of 5 sons and after a Melanoma diagnosis and treatment that required surgery she began looking for Natural alternatives to skin care for herself and her family.
With a passion for Fair Trade and a desire to help others Debbie launched her Brand Moyaa Shea Products in 2016. As a social enterprise Moyaa is committed to producing the highest quality of Premium Organic, Grade A, Shea Butter products. These all-natural products help people dealing with skin issues, from simple dryness to painful eczema and common skin irritations.
Using the framework of Fair Trade Moyaa strives to help producers in Uganda by ending the cycle of dependency for the Shea farmers and their families. In 2020 Debbie created the podcast Start Small which looks at the large topic of sustainability and helps listeners find small steps to live a more fair and sustainable lifestyle