Those looking for hair care designed for the Arab woman’s needs – with a Parisian flair – may find it in new brand Philia. Founded by Samar Seraqui de Buttafoco, she describes the brand as “plant-based hair care with purpose”. The brand centers around Le Concentré, a curated blend of hair-nourishing oils – including coconut, macadamia seed, jojoba seed, castor seed, and olive fruit and broccoli seed oils, and rosemary and thyme leaf extracts to help smooth, control, and treat natural hair. A Lebanese woman of Palestinian descent raised in Abidjan and now based in Paris, de Buttafoco says that the formula was inspired by her mother’s approach to beauty. Vogue Arabia spoke with the founder to discover why she launched Philia, and why broccoli is the next frontier in beauty.
What is the philosophy behind Philia?
I wanted to minimize the care routine and keep it to its quintessence by creating pure formulas that are efficient and made of natural and biological ingredients. After two years of research and development with our partner laboratory, we came up with an approach that aims at removing the excess ingredients for a pure and efficient formula. Our first product, Le Concentré, innovates while keeping an exclusively natural approach for all hair types.
Why did you launch Philia?
Philia was born from the desire to reconcile with my hair and the beauty industry. When I stopped doing keratin straightening, I discovered the nature of my hair. It was very ugly. I spent my time smoothing it out and going through long routines to make it look beautiful. I couldn’t find a brand in the beauty industry that teaches me how to take care of my hair for the long haul, and have it healthy and beautiful without any product on it. There is a difference between caring and styling or masking your natural hair. Philia makes the difference between looking beautiful and being beautiful, and today my hair is naturally curly, healthy and beautiful.
Who is Philia for?
Our haircare oil blend is for all hair types. More important, Le Concentré, our multitasking oil is gender fluid — there is no age or gender when it comes to care. Even our perfume is natural so you can use it for your baby. Le Concentré will not just nourish your little one’s hair, but also make their hair smooth and shiny.
How will Philia work for Arab women and their specific hair needs?
In general, Middle Eastern women have a more holistic approach to their hair routines compared to Western women. Caring for our hair is incredibly integrated into our culture. We grew up with our mothers and grandmothers passing down beauty rituals that have been around for decades, if not centuries. The idea of natural, non-toxic, DIY beauty has always been a given.
View this post on Instagram
What was your Lebanese mother’s influence on Philia?
When I was younger, I had a very specific idea of what beauty was: sophistication, accumulation, and appearance. I was adamant. Everything that my mother wasn’t. A simple woman, who put olive oil in her lengths, and thyme and rosemary extract to massage her scalp. My mother didn’t have the desire to own material objects. As I grew up, I learned to declutter, keep only the essentials, and be less binary. I learned it from my mom, and I cultivate it.
Why was making Philia plant-based important to you?
Healthy hair is something that is desired by many, but it’s not easily achieved when using products that contain harsh chemical ingredients. Opting for products that do not contain such chemicals, will greatly benefit your hair and scalp in the long run. Consider giving preference to organic and cold-pressed varieties, which better maintain the potency of strand-saving vitamins and minerals. Widely available non-natural hair products contain ingredients like silicones that seal the hair cuticle, preventing moisture from getting in. Through sealing the hair cuticle, silicones mask the problem, making hair seem smooth and silky, but in reality, it is most likely in need of moisture and hydration. Broccoli oil mimics the effects of silicone. This vegetable oil with natural virtues coats the hair without suffocating it, and without damaging it in the long term like silicone does, but has not been exploited by the beauty industry because it’s not exotic enough.