Though we pride ourselves on being adventurous travelers, we’ve never quite had the moxie to travel to the Amazon—between the poisonous snakes and the insects the size of dinner plates, we’re a little leery. But if we’d known that it was the source of a secret oil that solves myriad hair woes, we might have been more proactive. That’s what notable New York City-based hair stylist and coloring expert Fabian Lliguin found when he swapped the plush comfort of his Madison Avenue salon for the Amazonian rainforest as a member of Ecoagents, an organization that helps the Quechua people of Ecuador preserve their native habitat. While he was there, Lliguin, who is a Quechua Indian himself, was introduced to the native plants and roots that Quechua women use in their beauty routines, including the oil from the rare Rahua (ra-wa) nut. Struck by their thick, lustrous tresses, he had a light-bulb moment: Why not work with the Quechua and other indigenous peoples to harvest the oil and then bring it to New York to create hair care products with it?
Back in the lab in New York, Lliguin discovered that the secret to Rahua’s super-moisturizing abilities is its tiny molecules—rather than sitting on the hair’s surface, they can actually penetrate the cortex, thus repairing and strengthening from within. After a few rounds of experimentation and refining (and the addition of other plant-derived ingredients native to the Amazon, like ungurahua and palo santo), he launched Rahua by Amazon Beauty, a completely natural, synthetic- and chemical-free quartet of products that produce truly spectacular results. The Shampoo and Conditioner nourish and regenerate the hair and scalp, the Finishing Treatment protects it from splitting and drying during styling, and the kick-ass Elixir whips even the most abused locks into tip-top shape.
And as if that wasn’t enough to make us converts for life, there’s also the feel-good fact that this fair trade line helps preserve both the rainforest and the Quechua heritage.
Lliguin continues to team with the tribal people to locate, harvest and process his hair care line’s natural ingredients in the forest, and part of the proceeds go directly to Ecoagents and the Ecoagents Institute in Shell Mera to support tribal education and create awareness through art and culture. Or, as Fabian Lliguin puts it when he explains the company’s tagline: “I finally had a tool to help preserve the Amazon and its people through beauty… hence ‘Beauty is Power’”!