Hermellia is the founder of the French hair care line HIC&NUNK, a line of 100% plant-based products specially formulated to meet the needs of wavy/curly/kinky/coily hair. AntidoteStreet.com had the pleasure of chatting with Hermellia and delving into her hair care journey - including her extremely relatable 'ah ha!' moment, her expert tips on caring for curly hair, and her advice on self acceptance.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT WAS IT LIKE GROWING UP IN FRANCE?
I arrived in France when I was 8 years old, and from there grew up in a small village. I was the only black kid for a while… But to be honest, I was surrounded by love from my family and didn’t suffer from any racism. The main difference has always been my hair, struggling to take good care of it, with no products working on my texture.
HOW DID THAT SHAPE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR HAIR?
My hair made me feel different, out of place. I didn’t want to have straight hair, I just wanted to take care of it properly and make it look nice, you know. I was loving my skin colour, my African background and everything. I just needed to feel comfortable with my coils… Being the only one among my friends, I could never share my struggle with it.
WHY DID YOU CREATE HIC&NUNK? WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL?
I held on to my natural texture until I was maybe 22 or 23 years old. After I started working, I “had to" straighten my hair – my sisters insisted on it, and I gave up. I was living in Montreal at that time, where there were a lot of black beauty salonS, and it was easy to get myself pampered.
The problem started when I came back to France few years later. I was working in Geneva, and relaxing my hair was a big issue. There were few beauty salons for my hair type and the prices were just ridiculous. So I started doing it at home…And one day, it happened: I forgot to take off the product in my hair on time, and I lost part of my hair. That day, I decided to use only healthy products for my hair and therefore to stop straightening it!
Little did I know it was the beginning of the Hic&Nunk adventure. I had to learn about chemicals, about hair, its needs and which ingredients were good or not. I had to try it on myself and my friends... I learned so much, I needed to share all I learned and to make GOOD products for curls - that became obvious to me.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR COLLABORATION WITH ORGANIC COSMETIC EXPERTS - HOW IMPORTANT WAS THIS IN YOUR PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS?
I don’t have a “technical” background in haircare products. I approached my brand first as a frustrated customer with high expectations. So I wanted what was working for my hair type, I tried a lot of natural ingredients and hand selected a few. Then I needed to enhance the effects of these raw and rich ingredients, but I didn’t have the knowledge.
So it was necessary to surround myself with specialists who understood my needs and expectations and who could use what I had found out and “translate” it into rich and efficient products. They also knew the legal requirements for a brand according to European and international laws. They allowed me to introduce a high quality product range, while respecting international legal standards.
THE RANGE CONSISTS OF A SHAMPOO, OIL, MOISTURISER AND A BALM. PLEASE COULD YOU TELL US HOW BEST TO USE THE RANGE FOR THE BEST RESULTS?
One of the first things I realized is that to be healthy, curls only need a few things: to be hydrated and nourished. As healthy curls were the priority to me, I looked for the best way to meet these basic needs.
Having a small range of products allows me to provide the best products to meet your hair's needs.
- You have the shampoo that you need to clean you hair - no need for a conditioner as the shampoo is pretty smooth.
- You have the leave-in conditioner, that you need to apply after shampooing and that you don’t rinse out. This product is perfect to define your curls and to hydrate them as well.
- For the balm and the oils, you can use both as masks (before shampooing), and as leave-in (after shampooing).
- The balm will be more to restore your curls for damaged hair and nourish it, and the oils will be a deep treatment to strengthen your hair and nourish it deeply.
You can play with the range and adapt your own routine depending on your hair's needs. You need to be aware of your hair type and what it likes best, depending the season etc… But be assured that this range has the necessary products to get your hair back to health and to maintain it!
THE PACKAGING IS BREATHTAKING! WHAT INSPIRED IT?
While working on the range, I wanted something clean, fresh, and reflecting the healthy components of the products, the fresh perfume. I wanted it to be a sweetness for haircare: something beautiful from inside and out, chic and colorful. This is what came out, and I am pretty happy you like it, because we (I worked with a Designer) liked it too.
WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST HAIR CARE TIP?
The biggest would be “never apply a product on dry hair if you want your hair to enjoy it! / Always wet your hair before applying a product, so that it can absorb the essence of the ingredients of the product”.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF WITH REGARDS TO HAIR AND SELF ACCEPTANCE?
I would say to enjoy what nature has given to you, since at any time, nature never goes wrong ;). Your curls are a gift, love them and they would love you back.