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Shaeri Is the Curly Hair Brand That Wants To Liberate You From European Beauty Standards

It's time to embrace our natural hair

As we start to decolonize our beauty standards, there has been a major shift in the way that people with curly hair approach their natural texture. Rather than carefully straighten every bend and coil to transform their hair into something it’s not or throw their hair into a bun because they don’t know how to style it, people are now choosing to embrace their unique ringlets and waves in a celebration of individuality. Nonetheless, curls come with their own set of problems (the region’s extreme weather doesn’t help either) that require only the most effective formulas to manage.

That’s why French-Moroccan Meryem Benomar decided to launch Shaeri, an organic haircare label that caters to curls, in 2018. The range of silicone and sulfate-free shampoos, conditioners, hair oils, and sprays aims to help women liberate themselves from European beauty standards and embrace their natural curls, all while promoting the founder’s North African roots and culture.

“With Shaeri, I wanted to express an alternative vision of Mediterranean, paying tribute to our real history and traditions but also to the region today,” shared Benomar. This is reflected through the name of the brand (Shaeri means “my hair” in Arabic), the logo, a fusion of Arabic and Latin letters, and the red, green, and blue packaging, which is inspired by traditional Amazigh colors.

Moroccan haircare practices and rituals played a big role in the development of the brand’s products. The French-Moroccan entrepreneur grew up doing oil baths using concoctions made by her pharmacist mother. Shortly after Benomar finished her studies, her aunt — one of the first chemist professors to do research on argan oil and prickly pear oil in France and Morocco — suggested that she creates a brand that utilizes Moroccan oils. “It was too early for me at the time, but she had planted the seed,” she recalls.

Taking inspiration from her heritage, each formula is infused with nourishing ingredients found locally in the region, including argan oil, aloe vera, fig, orange blossom, and the standout ingredient, prickly pear oil, which Benomar explains is perfect for “hydrating and nourishing dry hair.”

According to Benomar, all of Shaeri’s products are 99% natural, and the brand works with only the best cosmetic experts in the world— with the financial support of the BPI— to ensure that the formulas are entirely natural, and still effective, taking care of the needs and concerns of individuals with anything-but-straight hair.

The Mediterranean region is one of the most diverse in the world, and our hair is a true reflection of this fact. People from this part of the world can have straight, wavy, curly, and frizzy hair. However, Benomar insists that her formulas are meant to be used by everyone who wants to enhance their natural hair, regardless of geographical background. “I am always super proud when we have an Asian girl contacting us about her hair. To me, it means that we are about to succeed in making a universal brand,” reveals Benomar. “The trap would have been to create a ‘community brand.’ We are demonstrating that we are not that.”

Shaeri’s focus on organic, sustainable ingredients aren’t only good for the restoration of the lengths, but they also help contribute to the overall health and well-being of the planet. “Both prickly pear oil and argan oil are identified by the United Nations as sustainable as they  grow in arid regions and require very little water,” said Benomar. “We know that water is a key challenge in the region and we need to find alternative ingredients in agriculture. Prickly pear has many properties for the soil and many potential uses in agriculture while argan oil is a UNESCO world heritage, and a symbol of the ancestral Amazigh culture,” she added.

What’s more, the prickly pear oil used in the formulas is sustainably sourced by women’s cooperatives in Morocco, who use a cold-pressing method of extraction where seeds are pressed until the oil is released from them. These coops are dedicated to improving the welfare of local women by inviting them to provide for their families via the production of the oil, as well as promoting the preservation of traditional beauty secrets.

In addition to these coops, Shaeri is also keen on supporting creatives from the region. The brand has previously worked with Lebanese artist Lamia Ziade and Morococan illustrator Myriam Chaaib, as well as partnered with Live Love Beirut to raise funds after the 2020 Beirut port explosions.

Illustration by Myriam Chaaib.

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