Take a moment and look at the hair products that clutter your bathroom cupboards or counters. Where do they come from? Who made the ingredients that go into them? Are those ingredients being made or harvested in a healthy and sustainable way? How do you know?

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Of all of the hair products and body products I’ve ever tried, I can only truly vouch and speak to the experience of one – Be Kekoa’s Tamanu Oil. If you follow me on Instagram then you already know, I just visited Tahiti and the beautiful, unspoiled island of Huahine to discover the process by which this oil is made. It truly was an experience I’ll never forget and I’d love to share it with you, because I learned so much – about tamanu oil, about the culture of Huahine, and even about myself and life in general.

Come with me, to Huahine! Let me tell you all about tamanu oil. And let me introduce you to Be Kekoa.

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Be Kekoa is the brainchild brand of Brandie Kekoa, healthy hair artist and owner of the Be Kekoa Hair Studio, a renowned curly hair salon in Temecula, California. Brandie is the descendent of entrepreneurs, a 3rd generation hair care professional, following in the footsteps of her aunt and grandmother. In Brandie’s salon, the message is self love and care for naturally kinky, curly hair. Her Be Kekoa Healthy Curl product line combines her knowledge of the needs of natural hair, and the power of all natural ingredients obtained by heartfelt and supportive fair trade practices.

Tamanu oil is an incredible natural oil with myriad benefits for skin, hair and more It is used by the people of Huahine from head to toe, practically from birth. In Huahine, when children are born tamanu oil is used on their heads to encourage hair growth and to protect their delicate skin from the sun. Tamanu oil is said to have a natural sun protection, it is used to prevent sunburn and to protect your skin from scarring. It has a nutty, warm, uniquely distinctive fragrance. It’s fantastic for skin and reportedly has restorative properties for hair – I’ve heard more than one naturalista rave about the way Be Kekoa’s tamanu oil has helped them to grow their edges back from the brink.

Brandie discovered tamanu oil from online research, but she had been unable to find oil that truly impressed her and demonstrated the results she had hoped for until Roger of Ao Nui Adventures introduced her to the pure oil from Huahine, harvested by traditional means. The difference was undeniable – the Huahine tamanu oil gave Brandie instant results for her hair and skin.

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The discovery of this high quality oil led to the creation of a business and cultural partnership between Brandie and the people of Huahine. It is a beautiful, symbiotic relationship that is filled with deep respect and love. To come to this place and see the process was such a gift. Let me show you what I discovered.

Be Kekoa’s tamanu oil grows along the coastline in Huahine, roots in the sand, leaves stirred by sea breezes. Here in this rustic, rural, postcard-like setting, the small green nuts are an essential part of the island culture.

 

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So much of the mana, the energy of Be Kekoa’s Tamanu Oil starts right here, where the salt water kisses the roots of the Calophyllum inophyllum or the Calophyllum tacamahaca (ati) tree.

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The trees thrive on mana, they are nourished by the pure ocean water. They are often located near marae, sacred places where the ancestors were buried. It is believed by many that the ancestors live on through these trees.

This is Nito, one of the farmers who helps to produce Be Kekoa’s tamanu oil. He showed us every stage of the process, from picking to harvesting. It was a true lesson in sustainability and fair trade.

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Nito shared his ingenuity with us, revealing some really innovative drying processes. The resourceful spirit he brings to his work was nothing short of inspiring.

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This is the difference in Be Kekoa’s tamanu oil, versus some of the varieties you may find online. The color difference speaks to the length of the harvesting process – Be Kekoa’s tamanu is roasted in the sun and the process takes up to a year and a half. The quality speaks for itself.

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Huahine protects the farmers, and protects the tamanu oil. It isn’t another agricultural export to be exploited – the goal here is sustainable farming, sustainable business, trade that is truly fair and that helps to boost the locals in need. The intention is to scale sustainably and always maintain the desired quality of life for the farmers. More businesses should have such pure intentions.

 

This is Nito’s wife Daisy, who kindly rubbed tamanu oil on my sunburnt arm. She has such an incredible, loving spirit!

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Pure, ground tamanu paste smells incredible. Rich, earthy, like coffee and nuts and sunshine.

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This is small batch, artisanal oil. When it is ground up in this vintage grinder, the oil is warm from the sun and melts instantly, effortlessly into your skin and hair. This is as pure as it gets. I wanted to bathe in this stuff!

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Be Kekoa sells cleansers and conditioners and hair styling products, but their star ingredient and hero product is their pure tamanu oil – let me tell you, my skin is LOVING this stuff at this time of year in Chicago. When it gets cold, my hands and feet feel dry and crackly and my seasonal eczema starts acting up, especially behind my ears and along my hairline. This winter, I can’t wait to treat my dry, flaky skin with this stuff!

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Be Kekoa Cocomanu combines tamanu oil and coconut milk for hair and scalp nourishment. According to their site: “…this ancient marriage of Polynesian treasures is packed with growth stimulating B Vitamins, 5 essential hair growth minerals, Vitamins A and E for healthy hair and length retention and anti-inflammatory Omegas 3, 6, and 9 for healthy scalp. Be Kekoa Cocomanu nourishes hair at the follicle, invigorating the scalp for healthy hair growth and maximum length retention.”Sounds like what my hair needs this winter!

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Just in time for Thanksgiving – Be Kekoa is offering a special Black Friday promotion BOGO deal! With the purchase of a pure 2 ounce Tamanu Oil, you will receive a free 2 ounce CocoManu, perfect for hair or skin. So you can try Be Kekoa for yourself and see what I’ve been raving about!

Discovering the artisanal process of Be Kekoa’s tamanu oil production really left me inspired and hopeful. It gave me a necessary reminder that greatness takes heart, it takes time. The most valuable and wholesome things come from a pure place and are fueled by integrity. My trip to Huahine was an experience I’ll never forget. Thank you to Be Kekoa and Ao Nui Adventures for the opportunity! Check them out on social media — @BeKekoaHair on Twitter and @BeKekoa on Instagram, and @AoNuiAdventures on Instagram.

Here’s the whole group of us: from left, Charmaine, Felicia Leatherwood, Nikia Phoenix, Michelle of Ghana Goddess, Brandie, myself, Patty and Scott!

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This is just part 1 – stay tuned for an upcoming post on Huahine and Tahiti – where to stay, what to do and so much more!

These incredible photos are by Scott Hebert of STUDIO 360 IMAGING.

COMMENTS

Emilia Stark says:
November 24, 2016, 4:11 am
It’s a curious fact that despite impressive and documented blogs like you, tamanu oil remains relatively unknown outside. I love nut and seed oils for skin care but this one is my absolute favorite. As tamanu oil penetrates the skin, it also does an amazing job at clearing up the scars. I really like this post and I find this oil amazing! Thanks for your detailed thoughts on it. One other thing that you mentioned about Tamanu, that its great as a cuticle oil. Well, I have very dry cuticles, but the Tamanu keeps them looking nice all day long.
pets says:
November 24, 2016, 9:37 am
Very interesting post about the history and culture behind Be Kekoa. Loved the personalities shown and the pictures of the place. Can't wait to read more about your adventures!
Kiss & Make-up says:
November 25, 2016, 3:23 am
Gotta love beauty products with a story and with personality!
Chris says:
November 25, 2016, 7:11 am
I will have to buy some in the next few days. Maybe even recommend it to my clients at my shop, or at least use it on their hair after a cut.
Lynn says:
November 30, 2016, 10:35 am
Hello! What a great story! I had not heard of this oil before. I saw it on a Facebook page of someone in Hawaii. I decided to click the link and check it out. I am so glad I did. I want to know much more about it. I don't have "curly" hair but it is kinda dry and I would love to try tamanu oil on it and my skin. I live in a high desert town in the Pacific Northwest and it's very dry here. Everyone has challenges with dry skin during the winter months. Coconut oil doesn't really do the job for me and I have been looking for something else. Thanks for your time. I look forward to more information. :)
Raw Nectar says:
December 12, 2016, 9:45 am
Mother earth holds so many natural powers <3

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