Noticing the change in returning to natural remedies for our health instead of relying on modern medicine? Well, the world of skin care is no different. We see a shift from clinical to natural products for our skin, and Mena Nwabenu Enuenwosu, 20, is taking part in this change.
Enuenwosu, a Chicago-native, is the founder of Benu Cosmetics. She has been interested in skin care since her mid-teens, after developing a self-consciousness with the condition of her cystic acne.
“Going through adolescence and young adulthood, I had extremely problem skin. Highly sensitive, easily scarring, excessively oily, and cystic acne prone,” Enuenwosu says. “Nothing worked for me because my skin was too sensitive, so it always ended up burning and damaging it.”
Enuenwosu who was dealing with the genetic condition, cystic acne, says it was a painful time for her, physically and emotionally.
“It hurt, it bled, it scarred, and it always came back,” she says.
Though she tried every product available to her, that only resulted in irritated skin. Antibiotics, she says, only worked for some time until it became more harmful than useful.
That’s when she and her mother, who had previously worked for Clinique, decided to craft their own skin care products.
“Whatever my mother and I made, whatever we touched, quite literally turned to gold,” Enuenwosu says.
Working with natural remedies was not new to Enuenwosu, or her family.
“We were always the kind of family that believed if we had an issue, whether it be a cold, a breakout, or even a slight injury, a natural solution should always be considered over a chemical or medicinal one,” she says.
But, when her mother passed in May 2017, Enuenwosu knew she couldn’t just let go of what they had started. She had to honour her mother.
“I wanted to manifest something with purpose and with meaning, and something that we loved to do together,” she says. “I wanted to dedicate it to her love and her memory.”
With that, “Benu Cosmetics” was born. ‘Benu’ derives from the first letters of her mother’s maiden name and the first three letters of her father’s. It also happens to be in the capital city of Nigeria -- where her parents are from and is also a shortened form of her middle name, Nwabenu.
“‘Benu’ holds meaning, it has a purpose, and because it means so much to me, I will put everything I have into the products you put faith in,” she says. “I am committed to making you fall in love with your skin, one product at a time.”
Using her Nigerian background, curating natural skin care remedies came naturally (no pun intended).
“Once I researched, it was almost second nature finding formulas that worked for each skin type,” she says.
The literal Nigerian and Ghanaian influence can be seen in her many products, including one called ‘African Black Soap.’
“I would say the Naija (Nigerian) influence comes in the ‘African Black Soap,’” Enuenwosu says. “It's an old Nigerian/Ghanaian recipe that caters to all skin types in different ways.”
But it also meant changing things internally as well.
“Nothing really started taking positive effect until I changed what I was doing myself. Diet, water consumption, and the quality of what I was putting in my body, and most importantly, on my skin,” Enuenwosu says.
She has been campaigning for healthy, natural skin, which also came with abandoning the concept of “perfect skin.”
“One thing that most skin care and cosmetic companies make the mistake of doing is marketing the idea of ‘perfect skin,” Enuenwosu says. “There is no such thing because beauty is a social construct. Perfect skin is a spectrum.”
Benu Cosmetics, she says, strives to help customers achieve their own idea of perfect.
“If your skin loves you, then you love your skin. And all that matters is that you’re in love with you.”
Enuenwosu hopes that her work on Benu will inspire “other women of colour to come through for other women of colour the way that society comes through for the majority people.”
In a society, where beauty standards and ideals are based on archaic understandings of beauty, that favours those with Eurocentric features, Enuenwosu sees Benu as her way to make the change in an inclusive direction.
“We have to be here for each other, and if the way I do that is through redefining the beauty industry, then I’m happy,” she says.
So, what’s next for Benu?
For now, not any makeup products. Enuenwosu is keen on focusing on her specialty in providing cruelty-free, organic skin care products.
“I just want to be the person, and the company, that makes people fall in love with their skin, and then inevitably, themselves.”
Her product recommendation:
“The ‘Hello Skin’ serum. Oh, my Lord. When I first made this was the product right after my ‘Oh, Honey!’ face mask, that changed my skin for the better; when it came to evening my complexion, fading deep cystic acne scars, smoothening my skin’s texture, and balancing oil production. Everything. If this is the only thing you get from Benu, your skin will still love you.”