“Beauty must free itself from the default” white “parameter”
We have to thank Rihanna – for so much, but most of all for the major shift towards inclusiveness in the beauty industry. The singer launched her makeup brand Fenty in 2017 with a world premiere of 40 shades (there are now 50). And how lucrative it was: Fenty is worth $ 2.8 billion and made RiRi a billionaire. What she started, mainstream brands followed and most no longer offer a single shade for dark-skinned black women (usually referred to as ‘chocolate’), and street beauty stores have (finally) received note that Afro hair care products do exist.
However, skin care is still largely absent from this conversation. Darker skin undertones haven’t been addressed in any meaningful way yet, but award-winning skincare expert Dija Ayodele aims to change that with her debut book Black Skin: The Definitive Skincare Guide (released this month). this). Covering everything from practical tips for darker skin tones to the historical and cultural history of how black skin is still overlooked, Ayodele’s book is an invaluable resource for skincare professionals and enthusiasts alike.
Founder of The Black Skin Directory as well as her own London clinic West Room Aesthetics, and with 13 years of experience as an esthetician under her belt, Ayodele, 38, is one of the most respected professionals in the world. industry. Born in Sierra Leone before moving to Tottenham at the age of 13, beauty has always been a part of Ayodele’s life, but she says she hasn’t always seen herself reflected in the industry.
Makeup has always been ahead in terms of diversity. Black women haven’t been in the skincare space
“I’ve always been in the beauty industry,” she says. “My mother worked in the hotel business and therefore always had to be well looked after. She was still reading Hello! magazine for me to pick up after she’s done and flip through it, getting tips for my imaginary living room. Growing up there was definitely a lack of representation in the beauty and skin care industry. Makeup was ahead of skincare in terms of diversity: black women just weren’t part of the narrative in the skincare space.
After becoming frustrated with her HR job, she decided to pursue a career in beauty, renting a room in a salon in Kensington before developing enough clientele to start her own clinic. She opened West Room Aesthetics at Queen’s Park in January 2020, six weeks before the first lockdown. She was home schooling her children – an eight-year-old and a three-year-old – at the time. “It was terrible, I’m not going to lie. But I’m the half-full glass type. I gave myself two days to wallow in pity, then I got up and thought, “Well, what good things can I take from this experience?” And there were – the lockdown forced us to realize what the strict necessities were to keep the business going. We completely changed our service to offer online training to help people take care of their skin at home. I wouldn’t want to start over, but it was definitely a learning experience.
Ayodele says the main problem with the skin care industry is its default “white” setting. “It’s not that black skin needs specialized treatment, it’s that practitioners need to have the nuance and knowledge to be able to apply the same treatments to different skin types. This is our superpower: we can make this differentiation. Our black clients often say that this is the first time they have experienced luxury care. She adds, “But we are not a ‘black skin clinic’: it doesn’t have to be. All clinics just need to make their space suitable for black women. “
Four myths of black skin, shattered
1. “Black doesn’t crack.” We like to say it, but the black will crack if you let go. Black skin is not immune to “cracks”, that is, fine lines and wrinkles; it just happens at a slower rate than white skin.
2. “Black people can’t get skin cancer. “ Black people can get skin cancer, including the type caused by the sun. Admittedly at a lower rate than that of whites, but this is not a pass to be less vigilant about sun protection.
3. “Hydroquinone is bad for black skin because it whitens and brightens the skin.” Hydroquinone is only bad for the skin when used improperly and without medical supervision.
4. “Shea butter is the best moisturizer for dark skin.” False. Shea butter and all butters or oils in their pure form can clog your pores and form a seal on the skin, preventing it from getting rid of natural wastes, sweat, and toxins.
This lack of visibility, she says, is why black women often rely heavily on makeup rather than skincare products to treat skin problems. Seeing the anxiety black women face when it comes to accessing skin care inspired Ayodele to create the award-winning Black Skin Directory, an online resource of skin care professionals with expertise in tone. darker skin.
His book is in part an exploration of the roots of this oblivion, spanning continents and centuries to the present day. “It’s a historic journey through the skin care industry and its relationship with blacks. It covers slavery, Jim Crow, the Race Relations Act from 1968 in the UK to colorism in the 21st century. The beauty industry has still not met everyone’s expectations.
Ayodele also discusses race within dermatology from a medical perspective, particularly as the majority of physicians only learn to diagnose skin conditions in white patients. It’s such a damaging problem that London-based medical student Malone Mukwende felt compelled to write Mind the Gap, a manual of pictures and descriptions of clinical signs and symptoms of black skin and Brown.
A misconception about black skin is that it is tough, so you have to be more aggressive with it.
Black Skin also serves as a handy skin care tool for all ages and all skin tones. Many skin care problems, such as acne, hyperpigmentation, and eczema manifest very differently on darker skin tones, and most skin care products are not. formulated for dark skin. There are entire chapters devoted to men, children and teens, as well as many misconceptions about black skin that Ayodele addresses.
“One of the biggest myths about dark skin is that it’s tough and tough, and so you have to be more aggressive with it. In fact, the fact that it contains more melanin means it can be more sensitive, because melanin can recur more quickly if something goes wrong, “she says.” There’s also the classic misconception that black people don’t need to wear sunscreen. Spoiler alert: we have all need sunscreen and it’s one of the easiest ways to prevent premature aging and skin cancer. ”
Reflecting on the diversity within the beauty industry today, Ayodele thinks this is sort of a double-edged sword. “The whole ecosystem is definitely more aware of the needs of people of color these days. I would like to get to a point where diversity and inclusion becomes a natural part of every organization, rather than being overt pillars. Sometimes it feels like you’ve walked into a restaurant and there’s no room for you, and everyone is doing a song and a dance saying, “Look, we’re adding another seat at the table. and we move forward for you! ‘which can be uncomfortable.
Ayodele would like to point out, however, that her book is not intended exclusively for blacks. “I don’t want anybody to think, ‘Oh I’m not black so this isn’t for me.’ Black Skin is a celebratory book packed with educational content for everyone, and a must-have for anyone looking to step up their skincare game.
Black skin: The definitive guide to skin care is available now.