How did you discover natural hair care?
Both of our backgrounds sit heavily in health, and so what we’re putting into our body has always been of interest to us. But it was really when we discovered that up to 72% of haircare products for women of color have harmful toxins in them that can cause all kinds of hormonal imbalances, and even cancer - yep, that even includes some of the “natural” brands.
That just didn’t sit right with us. Your body absorbs so much of what you put onto your skin and hair, why on earth would you want to welcome all of those nasty chemicals into your system? So we started looking for a better way, and honestly, we didn’t find much at first. It took creating our own.
Why did you begin to make your own formulas?
Before the conception of NUELE, I, Anne, co-founder of NUELE struggled with managing my curly hair. I used those chemical hair relaxants that a lot of black women are very familiar with and then moved on to the keratin treatments. But I still struggled with my hair. I was always fighting with split ends, hair breakage, and dry-looking unhealthy hair - when really, all I wanted was to have the versatility that a lot of straight-haired women can have: curly hair one day, straightened the next.
So, one day I was talking to Dr Christine, my friend, and co-founder of NUELE. I was voicing my hair frustration. l told her I wanted something that would give me manageable hair. Something that would allow me to wear my hair naturally one day and blown out straight the next. And oh, by the way, I wanted something that had no harmful toxins and only natural and organic ingredients. It seemed like a tall order but Christine was on it. We tried many formulations and through this, NUELE was birthed. I have used nothing but NUELE on my hair since then, and I get to choose what hairstyle I want to rock without fear of using toxic chemicals or being stuck with one look for an extended period of time.
Why did you decide to start a business?
I mean, really, we were sick of the struggle - it shouldn’t have been so difficult to find a hair product that worked for us curly girls, without having to use toxins. It’s just dangerous! So when we found a formulation that worked, we wanted to scream it from the rooftops!
We wanted every woman who was struggling with those same problems to rest assured that they could look the way they wanted while feeling good - and nourishing their body and hair.
It was only later, when we began testing the product on different hair types that we realized just how powerful a moisturizing heat protectant this is on all hair types - not just curls. And how a lot of hair types need that moisture, and really need a heat protectant - not only because of the style they want to wear, but to protect their hair and scalp from the elements.
How did your partnership as co-founders form?
We’ve been best friends for years, after meeting at church in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Very early in our friendship, we realized we had so many synergies in our “herstories” and it is through sharing ideas of our goals and purpose that we realized that we would one day work as business partners. So acting as co-founders has come easily to us - we complement each other's strengths and even out each other’s weaknesses. We’re both so excited to see the progression of NUELE on a daily basis, the positive impact that it has on people who use it, but also on the community of suppliers who benefit from working us….that’s really why we work so well together - we both truly believe in this product and what it can do for women regardless of hair style or texture.
How important is the sourcing of raw ingredients when creating clean skincare?
Oh, it’s absolutely imperative to source organic, truly natural ingredients when creating clean haircare -- or skincare. It can be difficult too because so many ingredients that seem clean for all intents and purposes were actually sprayed with a pesticide two weeks prior to you receiving them, or were planted in farmland that’s contaminated by PFAS or something similar.
But your product cannot be clean without using raw materials that are 100% organic, and we go as far as to say that even then - it may not be clean. Our company centers around being ultra clean, which means that there are no synthetics ever included in our product, no added fragrances, and no potentially toxic natural ingredients. A lot of people don’t realize that there are nearly 1400 different natural organisms that can be used to make personal care products and that some of those are used in quantities or ways that are considered toxic still.
But don’t worry - the best way to identify toxic ingredients is the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) which has done a good job of classifying natural plants and identifying toxic natural ingredients that producers need to steer clear from.
How did you come to learn about True Moringa and build your partnership to help them plant 100,000 Moringa trees? We are so inspired by this part of your raw supply chain story and how it intersects with social and environmental justice.
Thank you, we’re so excited about this initiative because it really allows us to give back to the nations that we source from. Anybody who is familiar with NUELE knows that we source solely from female farmers in Africa and strive to lift their economies - this initiative just furthers that. A moringa tree can be used in all kinds of ways, and can help prevent deforestation and malnutrition - which is why we partnered with True Moringa, our primary Moringa supplier.
Christine met with Emily Cunningham at a Doing Business in Africa forum when True Moringa was in its early stages (back then it was called Moringa Connect). We immediately gelled, and over the years of formulation, Christine often sought ways to incorporate moringa in the formulations. Once we got to the point where we knew that using this organic superfood was excellent for our product, we reached back out to Emily and re-engaged with True Moringa, not only because we aligned in our values around supporting small scale farmers, but also because we knew that the product integrity was high and would remain authentic. Furthermore, the opportunity to engage with True Moringa in a manner that would improve the environment was more than we could have asked for. The ability to participate in reforestation, reclamation of arid lands, sustainable production of a tree that provides food through its leaves and oils through its seeds has been astounding to us.
Why did you choose the other ingredients in your hair oil?
Here at NUELE, we truly believe that every ingredient must bring something to the equation - our goal is to be a part of the solution and not the driver of health and environmental problems.
NUELE has sought 100% natural and organic hair care ingredients, with the intention of being a clean and sustainable product. Our ingredients are not tested on animals, are not allergenic, and do not have any synthetic components, but they do all bring something to the table. We wanted ingredients that would be superfoods for the hair in addition to imparting a deep oil based moisturizing effect. So we sought ingredients that were rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants, proteins, essential amino acids, micronutrients, and provided a shine (who doesn't’ t like a little spark), were astringent, and had conditioning properties. We were also frustrated with reading labels that contained thirty or sometimes forty ingredients and wondered what the true benefit of each ingredient would be to the hair. So part of our quest included using ingredients that when used in concert, would enable us to obtain the desired effect but remain minimalistic in formulation. Our environment is directly impacted by the waste that we as humans produce, and we believe that creating products that do not have the desired effect, directly translate into full landfills because of “yet another ineffective product being trashed”.
We see this as being a significant part of our sustainability mission and intentionally steer clear from over-dilution, using fillers in product formula, and creating products that require unnecessarily large packaging.
Learn more about NUELE Hair Serum here and USE CODE: MORINGA at checkout for a special 20% off discount and plant a moringa tree for every bottle sold up tp 200 trees/bottles.