Honey and vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and extra virgin olive oil.

We all know that household products such as these can be added to store-bought products (or used to whip up entirely new items), for a quick and relatively easy beauty boost. For some, it’s a home experiment. For Anita Grant, self-described mixtress and creator of her own highly successful UK product line, mixing ingredients is a way of life that has empowered her beyond her wildest dreams.

Look at a typical ingredient label for your favorite shampoo, conditioner, or styling product, and it reads like a foreign language. Anita decided to rebel against all of that by educating herself.

Take a look at Anita’s new blog, Ingredient Junkie, (older recipes can be found here) or read any of her exhaustive comments on this very site and the breadth of her knowledge becomes instantly apparent. But she started out just like you or me.

It all began back in 2005, after her hands were blistered by a “safe synthetics” hair lotion that contained propylene glycol, a popular chemical used in beauty products. Having that traumatic experience with a store-bought product made Anita realize the position that big-bucks beauty companies essentially hold their customers in — a position of blissful ignorance.

The self-described “techie geek” doesn’t believe that you need a background in chemistry to figure this stuff out.

My background in IT has taught me to question everything in detail. When it comes to selecting and purchasing pure & wholesome ingredients to use in my mixing bowl I apply the same approach. I don’t have a degree in chemistry but I do work very closely with my chemist, ask questions and do loads of research – anyone that experienced the type of reaction that I had would definitely want to get down to the minute details of every ingredient before applying it to their skin & hair. Our skin and hair have the most remarkable ability to absorb and react to whatever is topically applied to it. When anything touches our body, partially or completely, it can alter its state as well as our emotions. Approximately 60% of products used on our skin & hair are absorbed and deposited into the body and with that being the case I want to make sure that what I put on my body is as healthy as what I put in my body. So I make it my business to find out absolutely everything I can about the ingredients I use,” Anita explains.

She began as a newly transitioning afrobella reading everything she could about natural hair products, deciphering ingredient labels. “By reading the ingredient labels of various off the shelf commercial hair & skin care products [I gained] a better understanding of what the ingredients were and what they were doing (and not doing) for me… Each and every ingredient has a job to do. It’s all good and well saying “Oh that smells lovely!” but when the scent fades it’s still got to keep on working. It was a bit difficult at first to decipher all the Latin (INCI) nomenclature of the ingredients and separate the “bozwellox” from true benefits but I got there in the end, thanks to my trusty Milady’s “Cosmetic Dictionary”. I took it everywhere with me!

Soon, Anita began wandering the organic foods aisles. “I began to loiter around the Oils sections at my grocers, purchasing all the vegetable, fruit and nut oils I could afford. I moved onto the baking section in search of humectants like honey and exfoliants like bicarbonate of soda, brown sugar, sea salts, and softeners like organic cocoa powder. Then off to the dried herbs section…

Her search led her to Nappturality.com, the ultimate resource for any afrobella. “I found a group of ladies who also shared the same views about synthetic chemicals. I lurked around the “Homemade” forum, asking questions, sharing recipes and swapping some of my homemade hair care goodies with members. Quite a number of them asked if I would ever consider selling my Goodies and here I am.”

Today, Anita’s family-owned business has myriad products for sale, from delicious whipped body butters and 100% pure fruit oils, to her infamous deep conditioners that look good enough to eat and handcrafted shampoos that bust the hard-water blues. Her products are made with African oils, Brazilian herbs, and exotic extracts that nurture the skin and hair. And unlike the bulk of the products you can score at your local Sally’s, all of Anita’s stuff is organic, and fair trade.

Attitudes towards buying organic & fair trade goods are slowly changing here in the UK. Consumers are more label savvy today then they were say five years ago. I can’t speak for the nation but in my family it is a massive part of our life & well being. The majority of my ingredients are produced & purchased directly from farming communities and/or partnerships I have with fair trade and organic ingredient suppliers throughout the world. It’s a way to foster community, economic independence & cultural survival,” she explains.

I see her company as something of an anomaly in the beauty biz — a genuinely family-owned company that runs on principle and heart, has a great reputation for customer service, and exclusively focuses on naturally curly afro hair. While Anita doesn’t see her company as an anomaly so much as a niche market, she certainly hopes that this is the beginning of a trend.

I can see that this will definitely become more common place. Especially now, there are new companies springing up all over world catering to those who have chosen to embrace the wholesome lifestyle and purchase fair trade goods. In the future, more and more customers are going to demand fair trade and organic products.”

If you ask Anita what her favorite ingredients are, she’ll give you a list as long as your arm! She’s got some new products coming out that I’m very intrigued by. Soon she’ll be selling body sprays, Amaretto di Cupuacu body butter, and Tea Total body loving herbs.

Someday, she hopes to bring her goodies across the pond. “I would one day love to open a brick and mortar shop in four major cities – London, Madrid, Toronto and NYC. I would love to [open a store in America right now] but at the moment I am considering offers from brick and mortar retailers.”

So perhaps you can buy some Anita Grant stuff at your local Sephora soon!

For now, customers can shop on her gorgeous website, or follow the instructions on her fantastic blog, Ingredient Junkie, to become mixtresses-in-training themselves. She has advice for all of you aspiring product creators!

Research, research and more research and be happy when you’re mixing. Don’t allow any negativity to enter into your mixture!

I asked her if there was any household ingredient or product that every AfroBella should have in their beauty arsenal, and I found her answer to be surprising. “Bicarbonate of Soda (there are over 100 uses) exfoliate dead skin cells, clarify the build up from your scalp, foot scrub, underarm deodorant, to whiten teeth and freshen breath, and a whole lot more. Bicarb of Soda is a multipurpose powder that’s a necessity in my household,” she gushes.

I’m gonna have to get some extra Arm & Hammer ASAP!

Anita’s got so many fantastic products for sale, I didn’t know where to begin. She advises naturally curly bellas who have never tried her products before to start with the yummiest-looking one.

My Rhassoul Deep Condishes are unique in that it’s made with pure organic cocoa powder, rhassoul clay, black cocoa butter, extra virgin olive oil and a whole host of other natural hair loving ingredients,” she says. Plus, they look like yummy chocolate bars for my hair! Gotta love that.

Anita Grant rocks. Her independent, environmentally considerate outlook and brave business acumen are to be admired. She’s inspired me to not accept the chemically-laden, silicone-stuffed products I was slathering on my locks, but to think outside of the slick packaging to improve my own beauty regimen. Plus, she’s a gorgeous, smart, strong woman to say the very least.

I think she’s brilliant (and I’m not just saying that because she advertises on my site)!

Congratulations, Anita! You’re Afrobella of the Week!

I plan on reviewing Anita’s products when I can, but creative afrobellas should stay tuned. Over the next week or so, I’ll be sharing some of Anita’s ingredient secrets and delicious recipes that will bring out your inner mixtress!

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Coffy says:
January 29, 2007, 2:24 pm
there is such a good feeling when you can mix up your own beauty aids. yay to Anita Grant for following her mind and sharing with the rest of us.
Dj says:
January 29, 2007, 7:46 pm
I look forward to trying here products! Thanks for making her bella of the week!
E-Fresh says:
January 30, 2007, 4:02 am
You are one hell of a writer B. I wish I found something I was passionate about like Anita. It's a great story. It's interesting to me the business decisions she'll have to face, like in what manner to expand the business. It all seems very exciting.
Anita Grant says:
January 30, 2007, 8:00 am
Hi Bella I can not tell you just how chuffed I am that you selected me as Afrobella of the Week. DJ, Coffy & E-Fresh cheers for your kind words! I just feel so very humbled.. There will certainly be some tough challenges in the future but as long as there is joy in my heart and happiness in my mixes I'll face each and every one of those challenges with a smile. Much love to you all..and cheers again!!! Anita
Ami Jane says:
January 30, 2007, 9:35 am
I'm proud of Anita for having the wisdom and fortitude to get her own business started. Do Yo thang Anita!
A Nappy Girl says:
January 30, 2007, 10:18 am
Anita is a class act — all the way! I pray blessings and wisdom on her life, as she continues to "mix her magic" for nappturals, and non-nappturals all over the world! What a mighty good woman!
jerseybred says:
January 31, 2007, 2:48 am
I click on Anita Grant's link everytime I read Afrobella. I'm fascinated with her deep condishes. I think its time to place an order...
Joy says:
January 31, 2007, 4:08 pm
Kudos Bella!!!! Anita is an excellent choice for Afrobella of the week! Anita, I discovered you from this site & on behalf of all the bellas in the UK I want to say thank you... Your doing a great job!!!
Andrea says:
January 31, 2007, 10:00 pm
I am so happy to finally "come home!" After over 20 of my 48 years looking for products for my naturally curly locks, it's great to see that I have choices and it looks like excellent ones at that! Not only products but forums by which to share ideas and information. I intend the next 48 years looking extra beautiful!! Thank you Anita Grant and Afrobella!
Bella Anais says:
January 31, 2007, 11:19 pm
Hi Bella, I'm so anxious to try Anita Grant's shampoo bars but they are out of stock. Thank you for providing the information about her on your blog AfroBella. I've been contemplating buy Anita's products for a long time but I've been low on cash. Now that I have a new job I'm going to have a ball trying everything. Ms. Grant you deverse to be AfroBella of the week. Keep doing the great work and mixing that you do.
LBellatrix says:
February 1, 2007, 7:47 pm
Congratulations Anita! Been a fan of yours for a long time now. :)
ReginaCarter says:
February 2, 2007, 9:33 pm
You ladies need to try her shampoo bars ,conditioner and hair butter !! You will be delightfully surprised by the result!Go ANITA!
Andrea says:
February 3, 2007, 7:26 pm
Congratulations Anita, you go gurl. You truly deserve to be recognized. I just ordered some of her hair goodies 2 days ago and the anticipation is killing me. I have just began to transition from relaxed to natural and I pray that these are the only products that I will need. Bella and Anita, keep up the good work. Many blessings....
healingslaveries says:
February 9, 2007, 9:48 pm
I dear friend and Sister Survivor shared this site with me!! THANK YOU DEAR ONE!!! I am in awe and inspired and I don't even have time to read everything!! I look forward to buying something from Anita and this is HUGE because I'm low income and have NEVER bought anything on internet!! My speed in garage sales and farmers market. I have been on ORGANIC though--for decades-- and feel proud of Afrobella and can't wait to read more at another time!! (I'm on the library computer - limited time) I am going to forward to others!!!! (and I don't do that either!!)
Andy says:
May 20, 2007, 1:32 pm
I just received my order from her yesterday and I am in Love, Anita why did it take so long for me to find you. The shampoo bars are the bomb !!!!!
Gacela20 says:
October 11, 2007, 10:29 pm
I'm especially pleased with Anita's shampoo bars (kelp and ylang ylang). My hair is clean and still moisturised, not stripped. I also found the suds it produced to be incredible, especially for a natural soap.
Valerie says:
March 23, 2011, 12:39 pm
I agree, Miss Grant is simply amazing just like her products, I just can't say enough good things about them. I truly wish that I will be able to carry her products accross the pond (in Canada) one day. Her products are truly unique and need to be discovered worldwide.
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