Chopping It Up

Chopping it up with Jamyla Bennu of Oyin Handmade

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The Ubiquitous Beauty and Hair took place in Washington, D.C. this past weekend, and according to all Snapchat stories of my favorite beauty gurus — it was lit! Some of the most notable hair and beauty brands were represented, but I was most excited about Oyin Handmade, an all-natural hair and body care brand that has become my go-to over the past couple years.

Jamyla onstage at the expo!

Jamyla onstage at the expo!

Before the event, we were able to catch up with Jamyla Bennu, the creator of Oyin Handmade, to ask her why she big chopped and her favorite products to get a poppin’ TWA.

What inspired you to create Oyin Handmade?

Back in 2001, there were hardly any natural products on the market for highly textured, natural hair, and I began making my own using healthy, nourishing ingredients from my kitchen. Olive and coconut oils, Shea and cocoa butter, and of course honey, which the line is named after. (Oyin is the Yoruba word for honey). Today, our ingredients are still food-grade and nourishing, still proudly made in our own little factory/production kitchen in Baltimore, and still packed with nutritious ingredients for skin and hair.

I noticed that you’ve big chopped. Why did you decide to cut your hair?

Short answer: Kiddo #2.

Longer answer: In the years since I’d been making Oyin my hair had gotten quite huge, but between two small children and a growing business I was wearing it in a bun 90% of the time, and liked it best when it was out of my way.

I thought that a short cut would both make my hair feel fun and new again to me and be easier to care for. My hair has been natural for all but about six years of my life; and in the last 22+ years it had been a fro, locs, worn coily, and gotten quite huge but hadn’t really ever been shaped into a cut. I went to my ears with my first chop and have been going steadily shorter ever since.

How has your haircare routine changed? 

Basically, I spend about two hours a week on my hair now. The ease of care is a breath of fresh air. I love that it is so easy to look polished and professional with little to no daily styling needed and that I can still do things with the texture to give myself variety.

I also have always loved seeing women cut their hair short and their faces just emerge to the world in a new way; I also love the interplay between their beauty and femininity being showcased in a nontraditional way. For years, I admired this choice in other women and never thought of it as a viable choice for myself. But every now and then, I will catch a particularly flattering selfie and think, oh snap. Am I one of those women?

Jamyla's favorite Oyin Handmade products.

Some of Oyin Handmade’s best-selling products.

What are your favorite Oyin Handmade products for short hair?

Shine & Define styling serum is my go-to; it’s an all-natural styler with a soft hold from sea vegetables and flax seeds — and I love using it together with whipped pudding for a soft, touchable wash & go or twistout that lasts for days. Boing!

Is our all-in-one coil styler and I particularly love that one in between haircuts because it really encourages my coils to snap to attention. A few days into my wash week, I’ll refresh and moisturize with Hair Dew leave-in lotion; the castor oil and olive squalene really encourage elasticity and keep my hair supple.

And if it feels dry, a spritz of Juices & Berries or Greg Juice before a shower will feed my hair like a refreshing smoothie.

Can you share with us you number one tip when it comes to hair?

LOVE YOUR HAIR. It is unique and has specific superpowers, find what those are and choose styles that showcase it to its best self. Self-love and a healthy, forgiving attitude is the best cosmetic there is.

What’s next for Oyin Handmade?

We are working on expanding our line in the next couple of years, expanding distribution of our core moisture products and putting more of our existing products onto store shelves. Currently, our full line is available on our website, and you can also find our products in selected Target, Whole Foods, Sally Beauty and Rite Aid stores.

We also are always evolving what we do at our Baltimore boutique and salon – focusing on educational workshops, natural styling, and an awesome, welcoming, hands-on shopping experience.


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