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An Interview with Fabian Lliguin of RAHUA

In terms of life-changing moments, Fabian Lliguin’s trip to the Amazon is definitely one for the books. A successful New York hair-stylist, Fabian’s environmental journey began when he met the women of the Quecha-Shuar tribe. Mesmerised by their long, luscious manes - Fabian was led to the discovery of Rahua oil - a purely plant derived, ritual-made, hair care miracle. 

Today Rahua oil isn’t just taming unruly manes, it’s also changing lives. Fabian has dedicated himself to helping the tribal women who have been such a significant turning point in his life and career. Not only does he buy the Rahua oil at above fair trade prices, he also supports local community projects, and puts their issues at the forefront of the world stage, by helping fund meetings with the United Nations in New York. According to Fabian, a little re-training goes a long way, and that if we respected Mother Nature (like any good child would do) - it would really make a world of difference. Underneath all his work, Fabian’s main drive is still so he can help the people of the Quecha-Shuar tribe stay and protect the rainforests they call home.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? What inspired you to start a 100% plant-derived haircare line?  
I am a hairstylist based in New York who became an Eco-agent when I began working with Amazonian tribes. It was in the Amazon that I was introduced to Rahua oil, a true ritual-made oil of the purest origins. Because of this, all Rahua products that we create need to be clean and plant derived. There’s definitely no question about that.

Tell us about the moment you met with the women of the Quecha-Shuar tribe, and how you discovered Rahua oil?  
I was amazed by the women’s long, healthy, and shiny manes, and their reverence for their hair as a symbol of true beauty.

Rahua products are 100% free of parabens, sulfates, and gluten — and they are all cruelty free. What’s the biggest challenge in producing your products in a sustainable way?  
Originally it was thought of as a challenge, but it became really simple when all I needed to do was to respect my “Mother Nature” as any good son will do! With that in mind, clean formulations and everything else became second nature.

In keeping with the concept of closing the loop, a percentage of Rahua’s profits is invested back into the native tribes of the Amazon along with other Amazonian projects. Could you tell us more about your work in the Amazon?  
We buy oils from the tribes at top price — above fair trade prices even. Our interest is to create strong economies and help tribes stay in the jungles, doing what they have always done, but also becoming stronger in a financial sense. Additionally, educating the younger generations enables them to protect their forests with knowledge. Using our profits, we also work on different grass roots projects that these tribes truly need. Projects such as implementing radios for communication to remote areas within the jungle, and building computer labs as a tool to defend their forests, through the creation of legal documentation. Together with other non-profit organisations, we bring tribes to the UN in New York so they can express their concerns and offer solutions that in turn will help preserve the rainforests that they call home.

Today, sustainability is more important than ever, with brands becoming more and more concerned about their carbon footprint. What role does the beauty industry play in the effort to minimise our environmental impact as a species? 
The beauty industry plays a very important role. The current standard ingredients in beauty products pollute the human body, water ways, and the environment, while we only think about our beauty rituals. All we need to do is get educated about how to work with natural products, a bit of re-training goes a long way. The good news is that Rahua has created a new breed of products such as the hydration range, which behaves as any conventional (synthetic) high-end product.  

A hundred or so years ago synthetics were mimicking nature. Now, it’s the other way around. Rahua’s natural products can mimic synthetic performance. Plant-based performance is fantastic! I can confidently say that our latest products, Hydration and Legendary Amazon Oil, as well as upcoming formulations, are blurring the line between natural and synthetic. We want to show consumers that natural products can perform to the same capacity as their synthetic counterparts without polluting your body nor the environment. It is the solution we have all been waiting for!

As consumers, how can we make a difference in protecting the future of our planet?
Just remember this: Anything we use is taking away from nature. When we discard it, we destroy it again. Anything we use damages nature one way or another so the solution will always be to reduce, reuse and recycle. Discarding less material into the environment is the answer.


Interview by Hannah Than-Gillies