keep shining: Abena Boamah

Hair and skincare products are must haves for me and you’ll always find both in my luggage while traveling. These are essential. Your body is your temple and can’t be replaced. Which is why it’s crucial to me to invest in self care. Another form of self love your body will thank you for. Which brings to the excitement I had when I kept seeing mentions on Instagram about an all natural skincare line called Hanahana Beauty. What made me even more interested in this brand is the vision behind it -  a skincare line for women of color. Being a woman of color myself, it’s inspiring to know there is a human being out there creating all natural skincare products to reaffirm how beautiful we are both inside and out. We live in a society where it’s easy to become clouded by what’s considered the ideal beauty standard. In some cases, leaving a lot of ethnic groups out. But more and more people are pushing the status quo by showing the many layers of beauty which is empowering.

After seeing my kickboxing instructor rave on Instagram about the Hanahana Beauty skincare products she just purchased, I had to know the face behind the brand. My instructor mentioned the founder of the brand Abena Boamah attended her kickboxing class every Thursday night. I thought to myself, wait, that’s the same kickboxing class I take on Thursdays. After clicking on Abena’s Instagram page to learn more about her and her products, I recognized her from the Thursday classes. At that point, it was imperative for me to reach out to her to try her products and share her story on the blog. 

Before sharing Abena’s story, I had to try her products for myself. I had an opportunity to try her Shea Exfoliating Bar,Shea Body Butter, and Shea Balm. These products were as natural as natural can get. For each product, all ingredients listed included a mixture of Shea, natural oils and butters. From using the Shea Exfoliating Bar while in the shower, to lathering my body with the Shea Body Butter, to applying the Shea Balm to my lips, I felt like a goddess ready to slay the world. My bathroom in my apartment was no longer just a bathroom, but a therapeutic spa waiting for me to repeat this process all over again.

Shea Exfoliating Bar: Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Rice, Almonds, Brown Sugar,  Aduki Beans,Cloves, Tea Tree Oil + Lavender Oil


Shea Body Butter: Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Mango Butter, Grapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Hemp Oil,  Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Rosehip Oil


Shea Balm: Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Honey, Beeswax, Jojoba Oil, Cocoa Powder, Lanolin , Vegetable Glycerine Brown Tint: Cocoa Powder


Without further ado, welcome Abena Boamah. The woman behind Hanahana Beauty.

Traveling solo has forced me to get to know myself and process things in a different light and environment. To me it’s a form of self care.
— Abena Boamah

Who is Abena Boamah?

I'm an educator, student and a creator! By day I teach middle school algebra, hip hop and social justice. By night, I'm a student at Loyola University getting my masters in counseling psychology and dancing around in my kitchen/living room creating natural skin care products for women of color. I’ve never been a person to be tied down to one thing so I love being able to be involved in things of interest - like trying new things, young people, and being in spaces filled with women of color.

What makes you jump out of bed every morning?

Food. No but really for me, my students. That’s my reason for waking up every morning during the week when I'm headed to work. During the weekend, I try not to waste time. I love sleeping, but I always remember my dad telling me as a child not to waste the day with sleep. So I try to be proactive starting early in the morning to get things done!


How do you define inspiration?

Inspiration can come in so many different forms. From mantra to people or just being out in nature, you can find inspiration anywhere. I get inspired through people and hearing their stories. I'm especially inspired by black women. My mother, family members, my students and even my friends, that type of inspiration I get from black women is like no other. It's magical.

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be and why?

Be confident in your skin and your skills. Don't let others doubt you and allow their ignorance to cloud both your judgement and self esteem. I would also tell myself to go off the high dive!

Who is your role model and how do they inspire you?

My role models are usually multifaceted women. I’ve always been involved in a lot of things and never felt comfortable being put into one box. So I tend to look up to women that are involved in different things.

What is an accomplishment you're most proud of and why?

I'm proud of being able to follow through with my goals and plans. Four years ago when I started making my own products, I told myself that I would eventually get to a point where all of the products I use on my skin would be made by me. Everything from cleansing, hydrating and moisturizing my skin I make. I’m still working on the perfect deodorant.

If you could share with the world something interesting about yourself, what would it be?

When I was a kid, I used to make baby powder, vaseline, lotion and perfume and give it to girls in middle school. I was a mini entrepreneur before I even knew!

How do you overcome fear?

Therapy, prayer, love, friendship and community - not in any particular order. I realized avoidance usually equates to fear. I try to face fear head on! This always starts with changing my thoughts and feelings which then transforms into action.


In what ways has travel positively impacted your life?

I  love traveling! I view it as experiential learning. Traveling solo has forced me to get to know myself and process things in a different light and environment. To me it's a form of self care. Learning about new customs, meeting new people, seeing new places is a blessing for me. One of my goals for 2017 is to travel more. This summer I’m going back to Ghana for a month to visit family and learn more about Shea butter and production behind the business. I can't wait! My motto about traveling is, "God didn't create earth just for me to stay in one place!"

What does the phrase "Keep Shining" mean to you?

Right away I thought of the Beyonce song Shining! To me, “Keep Shining” means not giving up on your passion and not doing things for recognition, but for yourself. Everything is a process. There may be times when things are looking grim and not going your way. But it's just a step in your story, so keep working on your craft while you continue to shine.


I am unapologetically authentic because...?

I am true to myself. I was recently at a Black Girl In Om Self Care Sunday session and we discussed what it meant to me to be unapologetic. Honestly, it can be hard at times because society makes it easy to conform to different norms. Or hide different parts of ourselves. I have found when I'm most true to myself I'm happier. That's when I'm unapologetically authentic.


Abena is the founder and visionary behind Hanahana Beauty, a skincare brand committed to empowering women of color. She handcrafts all products using 100% natural ingredients. She is also an educator and graduate student at Loyola University completing a Master’s program in Community Counseling. She advocates for the wellness of young people and she’s passionate about empowering women of color by not only making them feel beautiful through her natural skincare products, but also by advancing efforts in holistic mental health care.