Online Exclusives

Socially Conscious Hair Care

January 2, 2009

Amazon Beauty courts consumers concerned about minimizing their carbon imprint with organic and exotic elixirs for the hair.

Socially Conscious Hair Care

Amazon Beauty courts consumers concerned about minimizing their carbon imprint with organic and exotic elixirs for the hair.

By Joanna Cosgrove
Online Editor

Amazon Beauty offers a range of products based on ingredients derived from the rainforest.
The Amazon Rainforest is ripe with natural beauty ingredients. For hundreds of years, deep in the heart of the Amazon, women from the Quechua-Shuar tribe have foraged the Rahua nut, which renders an oil that’s long been used to promote long, healthy and strong hair. Knowing that modern consumers are increasingly drawn to natural, greener alternatives to chemical-infused hair preparations, Fabian Lliguin and his wife Anna Ayers, founders of New York-based Amazon Beauty, traveled into the Amazon Rainforest in search of this time tested ingredient.

A native of Ecuador, Mr. Lliguin comes from a long line of Ecuadorian hairdressers, having gotten his start with his family’s hair salon at the young age of 17 and later with his own Lliguin Hair Team, which worked with local and international beauty brands including Wella, Rena, Chardon, L’Oréal and Orquidea. His wife, Ms. Ayers, has a background in fashion and trend forecasting.

Because of his Ecuadorian roots, Mr. Llinguin had a deep relationship with the Amazon Rainforest. During one visit in 1999, he noticed a particular tribe of women with long, healthy, beautiful hair that was different from those women outside of the tribe. He discovered the women applied rahua, from the ruhua nut, to their hair to achieve its health and beauty. 

“The women of the Quechua-Shuar tribe have been using the rahua nut for hundreds of years to achieve long, strong healthy hair,” he said. “Women in Quechar-Shuar tribe harvest and process the rahua nut in ancient, natural ways so the rainforest remains undamaged.”

In 2002 the couple moved forward with product development, working primarily with Quechua-Shuar tribal leaders who are capable of communicating in Spanish. Mr. Llinguin continues to team with the tribal people to locate, harvest and process his hair care line’s natural ingredients in the forest. At the same time, Ms. Ayers works with the Quechua-Shuar tribal women, drawing on her education in trend forecasting, to help prepare them “for the shift in ‘go-green’ trends” as well as the increased use of raw, symbiotic materials, many of which are harvested in the Amazon jungle. She also educates the women about the relationship between quality and price.

Formulation Insights

Although the industry has continued to warm to “greener” beauty products, Mr. Lliguin insisted that “one-third of all personal care products contain one or more ingredients classified as possible human carcinogens.” In contrast, his Amazon Beauty hair care line consists of gentle formulas that are “completely free of chemical preservatives.”

The Amazon Beauty line includes four hair care products: Rahua Leave-In Treatment ($35 for 1oz., $125 for 4oz.), Rahua Shampoo ($32 for 9.3oz.), Rahua Conditioner ($34 for 9.3oz), Rahua Elixir ($100 for .5oz., $175 for 1oz.).

The primary ingredient in the line is Rahua oil, which is obtained from the Rahua nut “during the rise and fall of the Amazon’s full moon.” By penetrating deep into the hair’s cortex, Rahua Elixir “repairs and rebuilds damaged strands in three minutes.” When used with Rahua Leave-In Treatment hair “reaches unsurpassed length, remaining healthy and shiny,” according to the company.

Another key ingredient is (Bursera graveolens), a centuries old calming ingredient that imparts “an amazingly beautiful aroma.” Common to the coast of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Palo Santo is derived from a tree that inhabits the South American Gran Chaco region (northern Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and the Brazilian Mato Grosso). Aged, fallen “holy trees” are ripe with Palo Santo oil, which has been used for centuries in teas and medicinal elixirs for its many healing properties. It is also used by the Manta nationality to ward off “bad energy” and has been coveted by Shamans of the Latin culture for hundreds of years. Palo Santo also contains inherent antibacterial properties that balance the “scalp mantle” to maintain a healthy scalp.

“The Amazon basin is the true and original ‘beauty garden’ of the world because of its plentiful indigenous plants, fruits and nuts that are high in anti-oxidants as well as hair and skin nourishing oils,” explained Mr. Lliguin. “Amazon Beauty products are made with all-natural, organic ingredients from the Amazon rainforest, without the use of the pesticides. (The products) use a natural preservation system, further enhanced with the antibacterial and antifungal properties of Palo Santo, to give Amazon Beauty products a shelf life of more than three years.”

Working side by side with the women of the Quechua-Shuar tribe motivated the couple to use their products as a means of Rainforest preservation. With their Rahua hair care line, the couple has come full circle with nature, giving back to the Amazon and the Quechua-Shuar tribe by donating funds to ensure the tribe maintains the intellectual rights to these Amazonian resources and helping to preserve the beauty of the planet’s largest living, renewable natural resource.

“The potential of ancient beauty secrets found in the Amazon Rainforest is infinite. At Amazon Beauty it is our intention to work with the tribes of the rainforest to help them learn and understand how to hold on to their ancient beauty secrets,” concluded Ms. Ayers. “The true beauty of our products is that they are not produced in factories but are created by the planet, for the planet, while empowering the nationalities of the Amazon Rainforest. This natural science has been protected over time and we do not intend to ever ‘manufacture’ these ingredients.”

Amazon Beauty products are sold at,, Cocoon Hair Studio, Salon Eliut Rivera and Manhattan Color Studio.

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