Tropical Influence: Caribbean Hair and Beauty


Goats Milk has always been a common beverage consumed by the people living in the rural parts of the Caribbean and including Kingston, Jamaica where goats used to roam free.

the grannies and aunties of the villages consumed goats’ milk as an elixir for tight, glowing skin and overall good health.

Local herbalists recommend to drink goats’ milk for softer clearer skin, improvement of overall health and well-being. The fat in goats milk contains high amounts of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), in particular lactic acid, which sloughs off dead cells when applied topically. In order to reveal absolutely new skin underneath and lighten and brighten the complexion. Goats’ milk is also packed with vitamin A, which repairs damaged skin tissue, and minerals such as selenium, which can guard against the effects of the sun. Goats milk is known to be a panacea for eczema, acne, psoriasis and all manner of skin ailments

What has the beauty industry created from this magnificent natural ingredient?

Perhaps soaps and skincare products that seek to leverage the many benefits of goats’ milk and further enhance its properties by blending the milk with a range of different kinds of plants and herbs that are found in the cool Blue Mountains region of Jamaica where she now lives. The Tropical Duchess loves these products:


Rose and Geranium Goats Milk Soap by Cyril’s Soap Shed (£4.00)
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Goat Body Wash with Manuka Honey 500ml (£8.70)
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Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream (£68.00)
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Chuckling Goat Soothing Kefir Lotion (£8.99)
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What about the small but growing number of Caribbean beauticians, scientists and entrepreneurs who are pioneering a movement to bring back the many natural treasures that the region abounds with and shed light on the cornucopia of plants, bush, leaves, fruits and flowers of the islands that, although a staple part of health and wellness in the past, have been overshadowed in the region’s recent history.

The islands of the Caribbean weren’t always the resort-laden, tourist havens that they are today. These islands have literally been built up from nothing, and for years, their residents just had to make do with whatever was around them – all the natural organic youthful goodness of the earth and tropical sea. For example aloe Vera, sorrel (a variant of the hibiscus flower), papaya, prickly pear cactus, licorice and castor oil seeds, to name a few.

These and many others can be found throughout the Caribbean, and in the past were used as health, beauty and nutrition staples by generations of island residents simply because, like the sea that surrounds them, they were just there. Lucky long lifers.

The best hairdressers specialising in cutting, styling, weaving and braiding

Whether you have afro, kinky or multi-textured hair, finding a hairstylist to meet your needs can be a tricky business. But despite over two million black people living in the UK and more than 35,000 registered hair salons in the UK, only 302 cater to Afro-Caribbean hair. This means that one per cent of all salons are serving 10 per cent of the population.

Recently hairdressers in training have protested against having to pay a surcharge to take the afro hair module at hairdressing schools. Again it’s about making that change,  progress and collaboratively taking action to create the future we desire to see. It’s about creating the best possible experience for our community and we must not be afraid of this.

If you’re looking for a hair salon that specialises in cutting, styling, weaving and braiding, we’ve listed the best ones located in London so you don’t have worry about putting your natural hair at risk.

Hair Lounge by Charlotte Mensah

One of London’s best known salons – and for good reason – Hair Lounge is the salon that has been worshipping kinky curls and afro hair since 1999. Founded by award-winning hair stylist Charlotte Mensah – who boasts A-list clientele, such as Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae – the salon provides exceptional hair styling from cainrows to extensions and weaves. Located in the trendy area of Portobello Road, the Afrocentric haven is the perfect place to get your tresses treated by Mensah herself or a member of her highly trained staff.

Where? 347 Portobello Road, W10 5SA

Best for: Natural hair and extensions


SIMPLY Gorgeous

There’s nothing nicer than visiting a family-owned hair salon, but don’t worry – you won’t experience eight-hour delays here. Founded by mother and daughter duo, Deborah Johnson and her mum turned this relationship into a sisterhood and offer the same to their clients. They pride themselves on delivering excellent customer and hair services, offering weaves, braids and colour treatments at affordable prices, whilst providing expertise and knowledge on hair health, products and treatment.

Where? 79 Kingsgate Road, NW6 4JY

Best for: Braids and twists


Peckham Palms

Palms is the new beauty haven you never knew you needed. Nestled in the heart of Peckham, this new Afrocentric space provides exceptional hairstyling and beauty services and is home to over 30 professional hair stylists who specialise in natural hair. The team are very well trained and offer braids, weaves, locs, and custom wigs, while the nearby stores provide food, drinks, and beauty and hair products to fit every need.

Where? 1-10 Bournemouth Close, Peckham, SE15 4PB

Best for: Braids and natural hair treatments


Salako London

If you’re looking to achieve a new ‘do, Salako is the place for you. Founded by Jimo Salako, who spent his career working closely with Nick Knight and David Bailey, his namesake Marylebone salon offers hairstyles that take inspiration from fashion and art. He specialises in cutting all hair textures and types, making this a hot spot for fashion and beauty insiders alike.

Where? 85 George Street, Marylebone, W1U 8AQ

Best for: High-fashion cuts and styling



For those wanting to refresh their locs, Adornment365 has specially trained hair stylists on call. They’ve been serving loc’d and natural hair clients in their boutique for 10 years and have dedicated staff that are qualified, including nutritionists and trichologists, with a deep knowledge of afro hair, scalp treatment and how afro hair behaves, to offer their expertise and advice. You also get a 30-minute consultation during which you speak to the hair stylist about your specific hair needs and treatment.

Where? 81 Acre Lane, Brixton, SW2 5TN

Best for: Locs


The Traphouse Salon

The Traphouse Salon is the ultimate beauty emporium offering hair, nails and lash services. If you’re looking for somewhere special to get your wigs laid, you’ll be in great hands here. They have highly trained stylists that are specially trained in wig fittings, from frontals and closures to 360 sew in and ponytails. And if you fancy getting your nails done too before a big night out, you can simply hop from one chair to another for a manicure and pose in front of the salon’s famous flower wall for that all-important Insta-worthy pic. It’s the perfect place to hang out with your friends, too.

Where? 711 Barking Road, Plaistow, E13 9EU

Best for: Wig fittings



Based on Old Street, Chop-Chop is a small hair salon that prides itself on its express hair styling services at a fraction of the cost. They offer a set fee of £20 for 20 minutes of dry styling on any length and texture of hair, and have plenty of experts who specialise in cutting and styling afro textured hair. Whether you’re needing a quick fix or an up-do for a special occasion, the highly qualified hair stylists on hand can cater to every hair need. Plus, you can take advantage of the automated payment service by booking your service through the salon’s app.

Where? 362-364 Old Street, EC1V 9LT

Best for: Express hair styling


Unruly Curls

This hair salon doesn’t believe in taming curls. That’s why it remains a firm favourite among curly heads in London and why you have to book an appointment months in advance. But it’s worth it. Director Michael Price has decades of experience working with naturally curly, wavy, straight, fine and afro hair, while his team of highly trained staff know to work with the natural curl pattern without flattening it. They never just let the hair fall wherever it wants to. You only have to look at the stylists’ beautiful, bouncy curls to know that your head of hair is in good hands. Top tip? Ask for Grace. She is the curl whisperer.

Where: 2 Peoples Hall, 2 Olaf Street, W11 4BE

Best for: Re-energising curls



Through the years, poverty, economic duress and distance from the mainland have all posed multiple challenges to development in the Caribbean, but so too has the weather, in particular the blinding heat of the tropical sun. It’s almost a blessing that nature has been so bountiful and that plants like the miraculous aloe, whose leaves contain a gel that is simply bursting with nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and minerals, and which calms and cools the skin and protects it against the sun, should abound in the Caribbean. The succulent inner layer of the aloe leaf, which Caribbean folk cut out and consume either as juice or as is, is also full of polysaccharides that help enhance the immune system by enabling cells to weed out the toxins and retain nutrients.

From Nature Aloe Vera Moisture Soothing Cream (£16.33)
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The BodyShop Aloe Multi-Use Soothing Gel (£15.00)
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NIVEA Naturally Good Aloe Vera Face Cream
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Beauty Benefits

Generations of Caribbean men and women have also used aloe for smoothening out their hair. They have fashioned softening and hydrating face packs out of the papaya fruit, which contains, among other ingredients, lycopene (which protects the skin against UV damage), lutein and enzymes that soothe the skin, and used the leaves of the quaco-bush in lieu of soap for its cleansing properties and as a cure for the common cold.

Aching and sore feet have been relieved with Pepper Elder leaves, which have cooling properties similar to menthol, and the prickly pear cactus, a relative of aloe that contains a rare form of antioxidant known to lower blood sugar levels, has also been used to scrub out sand from between toes and fingers, since it contains lignin that when released, takes on a soap-like consistency.

Fresh Sorrel 500ml (£2.00)
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Take sorrel, for instance. The bright red flower is made into a juice that’s drunk at Christmas time throughout the Caribbean, but our studies have shown us that it is packed with antioxidants and with vitamin C and E that are vital for good skin, so even if our grandmothers did not have the scientific rationale, they knew from intuition and a sense of nature, the natural goodness from this flower.

Also studying the properties of bois-bande, a tree species from St. Lucia whose bark was traditionally consumed for its aphrodisiacal properties, but also has very strong astringent properties and licorice, which contains glabridin, an element that suppresses the formation of melanin and therefore lends itself well to the skin lightening many Caribbean women desire.

A new generation in the Caribbean is slowly but surely coming back to their roots; But the benefits of the herbs and plants of the region are universal, since the power of nature always transcends boundaries.

I support the University of the West Indies in their study of the Caribbean’s many natural plants and flowers to lend scientific backing to traditional beliefs in their properties and further develop benefits of the Caribbean natural health and beauty remedies. Please Click Here To Donate


Jamaican Black Castor Oil (£17.99)
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Audiences across the world have increasingly been discovering the wonders of Jamaican black castor oil, but it’s taken Jamaicans a while to come back around to using their grandmothers’ hair and skin staple.“The black castor oil seeds came to Jamaica as part of the slave trade, and in the rural areas, they’re harvested, washed, laid out in the sun to dry, then roasted, crushed and boiled to separate the oil.

In its purest form, the oil brings the blood to the surface of the skin, allowing the root follicles of the hair to get oxygen and enabling greater hair growth and also works on eyebrows and eyelashes.

handmade products combine goats’ milk with a range of plants and flowers found in the mountains of Jamaica, including aloe, nettle, lavender and mint.

was always inspired by the natural beauty treatments and health remedies used by her mother. By marrying science with nature, Bowles continues to highlight the benefits of the many plants and flowers of the Caribbean, and incorporates them in a range of eco-friendly, paraben-free hair and skin products that can work for anyone, anywhere.

The health and beauty market is one of the biggest in the world and it seems that virtually everyone is on the lookout for something. Whether you are keen to find something that will turn back time, stop heads or just make yourself feel as confident as you can be, a beauty product or two is the ideal accessory, for men and women. There is a growing trend for natural beauty products that harness the power and strength of nature and this is why beauty products from the Caribbean are experiencing high demand. When you think of places in the world with natural sunshine, vitality, energy and a positive attitude to life, you think of the Caribbean. This is why beauty products from this part of the world instantly speak to so many people.

Around the world there are natural remedies and old wives tales that are coming back into fashion. Many elderly Caribbean women told of the benefits of goats milk but it is only in recent times that the younger generation is paying heed. Goats milk has alpha hydroxl acids, which aids the removal of dead skin cells and vitamin A, which helps to repair damages skin. With selenium playing a strong role in protecting skin from the harmful rays of the sun, this is a product that has a range of benefits. Staying safe in the sun is important for many reasons and a failure to do so can damage the skin and age a person. The Caribbean beauty products made with goats milk provide a number of strong benefits against these problems.

An increasing number of Caribbean Beauty Products are available

There are an increasing number of Caribbean brands, producing skincare products that utilise goats milk and many of the natural herbs and plants that are found in the Caribbean. This is great for the local economy but it shows the opportunity and demand there is for products that provide natural health benefits to people. There is a lot to be said for feeling fresh and invigorated while knowing that your skin is being maintained in fantastic condition.

The abundance of aloe, papaya, castor oil seeds, Licorice, sorrel and prickly pear cactus has played a huge role I helping Caribbean businesses and brands to create natural; beauty products that are in great demand. While the food of the Caribbean is loved and adored all over the world, there is an increasing focus on the positive impact that these natural items can have in a persons skin and health.

There is a movement away from using harsh chemicals with people worrying about what they put into their skin. This is something that benefits areas of the world with a pleasant climate and positive conditions for growing plants. In many ways, the importance of Caribbean plants and herbs has always been in place, especially for local people, it is just that the rest of the world is starting to catch up on what the Caribbean has to offer with respect to beauty products.

The Tropical Duchess supports Black Owned Beauty Brands and asks all readers to do the same:

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