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Branding guru Babba Rivera on her new haircare line and the beauty products she can’t live without

Fast Company logo Fast Company 10/22/2020 Yasmin Gagne

Babba Rivera, CEO and founder of the branding agency ByBabba, was traveling to fashion shows last September when she realized that she was often the only Latinx person in the room. This wasn’t a new feeling: Growing up in Sweden, she had few role models with her background. It was only when she moved to New York and found a home within the hispanic community that she reconnected with her Chilean roots.

Now, with the launch of her new haircare line, Ceremonia, and its first product, a hair oil called Aceite de Moska ($25), Rivera is celebrating her heritage by creating a brand with the Latin American community in mind. And she did her market research: “Hispanics spend 46% more on hair care products than non-Hispanics,” she says, adding, “but there is an immense scarcity of products that adhere to their values and needs.” Her accessibly priced hair oil is intended for everyone, though:”It’s for [people] looking to optimize their natural hair strands through products that nourish, rather than masking their strands with toxic styling products for a short period of time.”

She took further inspiration from her mother’s beauty routine, her father’s work (he trained as a hairdresser in Chile but was unable to find a job in Sweden due to the language barrier), and ingredients found in Latin America. “Latin culture has so many rich beauty rituals and such a strong devotion to natural ingredients from many powerful superfruits and plants that are native to Latin America,” she says. Aceite de Moska contains Brazilian pataua oil, aloe vera, and castor oil, and was inspired by a popular treatment in the Dominican Republic that promotes scalp health and keeps hair shiny while reducing frizz. The formula is also free of silicones, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

Rivera also brought her marketing skills, honed at Uber and Away, where she served as director of brand marketing, to the new direct-to-consumer brand: Even before the brand launched, its Instagram account gained more than 19,000 followers by showcasing images from Latin American artists, including Colombian painter Fernando Botero. 

And while she won’t reveal the next products in the pipeline, Rivera has big plans for Ceremonia. “We’re bringing the spa to your bathroom,” she says. In the meantime, here are few favorite beauty products from other companies.

Babba Rivera’s Beauty Must-Haves

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

Before heading out to an event, Rivera loves to use this clean beauty product made by another Latin American founder—Colombian native Tata Harper—which smooths and decongests her skin.

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

Formulated by April Gargiulo—an actual vintner’s daughter—this nourishing serum is made from clean ingredients and has developed a cult following with A-listers including Tracee Ellis Ross and Naomi Watts.

Kosas Lip Fuel

This weightless lip balm, made with plumping hyaluronic acid and hydrating vitamin E, moisturizes lips even in the harshest of winters. Rivera uses the sheer “baseline” version every day.

RMS Uncover-Up

Rivera uses this lightweight concealer to hide any blemishes. The creamy formula can also be used as a foundation.

Nécessaire Body Serum

This deeply moisturizing serum is scentless and weightless and absorbs quickly and easily. The serum can be mixed with moisturizer or applied on its own to extra-dry areas.

Looking for more recommendations? Check out our other handpicked suggestions.

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