Hanahana Beauty Founder Abena Boamah on Growing Her Business and Drawing Hair Inspiration From Her Ghanaian Roots

Photo: Courtesy of Abena Boamah Texture Diaries is a space for Black people across industries to

Photo: Courtesy of Abena Boamah

Texture Diaries is a space for Black people across industries to reflect on their journeys to self-love and how accepting their hair, in all its glory, played a pivotal role in this process. Each week, they share their favorite hair rituals, products, and the biggest lessons they’ve learned when it comes to affirming their beauty and owning their unique hair texture.

Abena Boamah has been keeping her community moisturized since 2017, when she founded Hanahana Beauty, the place for moisturizing whipped shea butters, sourced from Ghana, in delicious and hydrating scents like lavender vanilla, eucalyptus, and bamboo coconut. Boamah has nurtured a passion for skin care from an early age. “Being Ghanaian, growing up, I always associated beauty with cleanliness and being moisturized. I was always told to look put together and to moisturize before school,” the founder, who now splits her time between Chicago and Accra, Ghana, tells Vogue over a Zoom call. Boamah, whose company recently received a grant from Glossier, keeps busy between running her brand and hosting her podcast The Conversations Podcast, which features candid dialogue on topics that range from relationships to careers. She’s also made a habit of serving constant beauty and hair inspiration on Instagram, from bouncy crochet curls to locs and braids.

“My relationship with my hair has always been very interesting,” Boamah says of her childhood that was split between Ohio and Ghana. “I remember my mom never letting me get a perm. I would beg. I sometimes would get a texturizer. I eventually did get a perm and my hair broke off,” she recalls of a time in middle school. “But I was very particular about my aesthetic, even from a young age. I was always noticed for my hair.”

The same remains true for Boamah today. “I feel like people know me for my curly crochet styles or my braids,” she says. “But I never really wanted it to be a notifier. Exploring hairstyles has always just been something I do for me.” She’s always been into protective styles, especially since her track days at Wooster College. “I’m also just kind of lazy,” she says with a laugh, “so protective styles help.”

Boamah credits her current healthy relationship with her hair to a trip she took back to Ghana in 2018. “Everything felt so much better when I was there. I was less stressed. I was hydrating and being so intentional about self-care,” she says. She’s also experienced a shift around her confidence in her own beauty. “As a dark-skinned woman, I feel like people always have the nerve to ask if my hair is real or not,” she says. “And now I have the confidence to always tell them yes, even if it’s crochet braids or something else. I paid for it, I got it done…so, it’s mine. The question should be, why are people asking this? It’s invasive and it’s happened even during interviews. Why is that the first thing people ask?”

These days, Boamah is exploring long braids with curls and color. “I draw a lot of inspiration from Ghanaian women and African women, in general,” she says. “The way we change up our hair is inspiring. It’s so accessible and affordable there. I remember walking across the street every couple of weeks and getting my hair redone there.” To keep her hair healthy, she moisturizes her scalp with Hanahana lavender or unscented butters. She also reaches for avocado oil, castor oil, and peppermint oil. “After I take my braids out, I love doing a mixture of rosewater and an oil on my hair,” she notes. Innersense Harmonic Healing Oil and Hydrating Cream Hair Bath are heavy in her rotation as well.

“As Black women, it’s beautiful that we can really do so much with our hair. I can change it up,” Boamah says. “But always reminding myself that my hair doesn’t define me and that I’m in control of it—that’s what gives me the utmost confidence in the end.”