Loving Naturals

Houston's Lovinah Skincare Channels African Beauty Secrets

And founder Joy Ekhator is more than happy to share.

By Rosemary Akpan May 9, 2023

Joy Ekhator never imagined she'd start her own beauty brand. Her foray into the industry was by chance. After three back-to-back-to-back pregnancies dealt her a long plight with hormonal cystic acne, the former software developer needed a solution. Enter Houston-based Lovinah Supernatural Skincare

“l decided to start my own brand after bouncing around from one dermatologist to the [other],” says Ekhator, who created Lovinah in 2012.

Growing up, the beauty brand owner gained significant medical knowledge and experience from her grandmother, a renowned Nigerian traditional herbalist. Ekhator watched her grandmother save lives with her medicinal know-how about leaves and roots. “I grew up in a very traditional African home and alternative medicine was a key part of my upbringing," Ekhator says. “In Nigeria, we eat a lot of fermented [foods] and some of [them] are also used in skincare products.”

Using mostly plant-based ingredients, Lovinah, short for "Loving Naturals," incorporates raw ingredients like shea butter, moringa, baobab, and camwood. Another beloved ingredient (specific to Ekhator’s ethnic group) is kola nut.

“All traditional events in [Benin Kingdom] and other [Nigerian] tribes begin with the breaking of kola nut—this is a very important ritual.” Ekhator says kola nuts are rich in caffeine making them great for eye creams and anti-cellulite products.

Ekhator drew further inspiration from her Benin culture to create her lustrous Lovinah containers. “Our packaging at Lovinah is mixed with gold and has beautiful hand-drawn artwork showcasing the beauty and rich culture of the Benin Kingdom,” she says. “From the ceremonial swords to the drums used during festivals, we try to tell our story through artwork.”

Ekhator, whose background is in medicine and computer science, stresses the importance of skincare and beauty in her culture. “Cleansing is a sacred ritual in African culture. It’s a ritual that is performed to help cleanse by removing the old and ushering in the new.” 

Many of Ekhator's go-to Lovinah products are from the Dragon’s Blood collection. (Don't be too alarmed by the name; dragon's blood is a natural plant resin that's purported to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.) “[Dragon’s blood] is a powerful antioxidant that has been used since ancient times for healing and promoting wellness,” Ekhator says.

Although Lovinah is primarily centered around skincare, the brand also holds a small collection of hybrid makeup products like the dragon's blood lip plumper oil and the nilotica ceramide and stem cell lip serum.

But for an entrepreneur who created an entire beauty line to help solve her cystic acne problems, you know Ekhator isn't resting on her laurels. “We have several amazing launches planned for 2023,” she says, including more cosmetic products. 

For now, you can stock up on Lovinah Supernatural Skincare items on its site or at your local Macy’s.  

Joy Ekhator's Skincare Routine

Ekhator kicks off her mornings with Lovinah's Dragon's Blood enzyme cleansing gel. A toning essence from the same line comes next. Ekhator says this helps prep her skin for other treatments: Dragon's Blood advanced antioxidant and dark spots correcting serum, Third Eye rejuvenating eye serum, and Dragon’s Blood hydrating moisturizer. She seals everything in with the Dragon-C vitamin C elixir to protect her skin from free-radical damage. 

“At night, l use more reparative skin care products,” Ekhator says. “I double cleanse first with the Dragon’s Blood cleansing oil, followed by the Dragon’s Blood enzymes cleansing gel to remove the dirt, pollution, makeup, and excess oil that’s accumulated on my skin during the day." This is followed by the Dragon’s Blood tonic to help balance her skin microbiome.

The Lovinah founder completes her nightly beauty ritual with either the Blue Agave resurfacing serum or Green Caviar retinol serum and the Royal Jelly overnight sleep mask. 

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