Dija Ayodele talks about her book “Black Skin” and her mission of empowerment through skincare
PARIS – Dija Ayodele did not think beauty could be a viable career. But 15 years ago, during the global recession, she decided to take a big leap, quit her career in finance and dive headfirst into the beauty industry. She launched the ‘Black Skin Directory’, a platform connecting people of color with skincare professionals, and her London clinic West Room Aesthetics – especially for women of color, who have traditionally been overlooked by the mainstream beauty industry.
Now, with the recent publication of her first book “Black Skin”, she wants to speak louder about the beauty needs of black people and educate beauty professionals and students on how the industry must adapt to foster a true inclusion.
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At the same time, she is preparing to launch a global education platform, to help fill the existing gaps in beauty courses. Beauty Inc sat down with Ayodele to discuss the biggest learnings and surprises from writing her first book, education, and how skincare can empower women and foster sisterhood.
How did you decide to write a book?
AD: There was an influx of black women coming to me as clients, and I felt like the mainstream industry wasn’t really catering to them. They had to go through extra legwork and deal with additional anxiety about skin care and access to treatment. There was a lack of knowledge and confidence as to what was available in the industry. I knew there were a lot of myths, a lot of misconceptions. I had all this information and I was like, ‘How do I contribute?’ I also knew that I wanted to write a book that had a little more depth, a lot of history and [an examination of] how beauty and skin color – especially black skin color – intersect with the beauty industry.
What are the main stages of your career?
AD: I have always loved beauty, but I started my career in finance, while doing my [beauty] side training. During the recession, I decided to pursue a full-time career in beauty and created the “Black Skin Directory”. Another pivotal moment in my career was moving my West Room Aesthetics clinic into its own space, from my rented room in Kensington, London. Creating a safe space available for all women, but especially black women – bringing that kind of sisterhood community was very important. I always say black women are my North Star.
What were the surprises and the biggest lessons related to writing a book?
AD: The level of miscommunication that there has been in the industry, about things like black women’s buying power. When I was in my late teens, I didn’t realize that not everyone used MAC or Bobbi Brown makeup. I thought everyone bought their foundation for 25 or 30 pounds, but at that time there weren’t many options for black women in the mass market for, say, 10 pounds. Black women are forced to spend more on their skin care because they have no choice. We spend more than our white counterparts – about 137.52 pounds more per year, according to the Superdrug Shades of Beauty Report, in 2016. Additionally, this report, which surveyed 559 women, found that 70% of black and Asians feel left out. high street offerings, and 36% felt beauty advice for their skin tones and concerns was lacking. We look forward to being included in the conversation.
What is your biggest mission that fuels your book writing and specialty?
AD: The mission is to empower black women, ensuring they are not left out of the narrative and have access to the knowledge and information needed to meet their own skin care needs. The second part of this mission is education for everyone else: I mean shades of black skin, for example, which are not taught unless you have a good teacher at university. Many practitioners come out of educational establishments not knowing how to make differentiations for black skins. When you don’t know and don’t want to experiment on someone’s skin, you end up saying, “I don’t do that on black skin,” and leaving black women with no choice.
Do you see progress on these fronts?
AD: I see progress being made every year, but I would like people to receive this knowledge as part of their education. I wish brands would consider darker skin tones from the start. Next year we will be rolling out our Global Education Platform, which is aimed at students and will provide an additional level of professional training.
Courtesy of Dija Ayodele
What are some of your favorite products for black skin and why?
AD: I love pigmentation products that tackle discoloration and uneven dark spots. Ingredients like licorice extract, alpha-arbutin, resorcinol, kojic acid, and retinoids all help keep my skin tone even. The product I reach the most in this category is Skin Better Science Even Tone Serum. I also like sunscreen because it’s the easiest and cheapest way to prevent discoloration. My current favorite sunscreens are Glossier Invisible Shield SPF30 and Ultrasun UV Face and Scalp Mist SPF50.
Where do you buy skin care products for yourself?
AD: I tend to shop from my clinic as I prefer clinical grade products. However, I occasionally mix it up with higher end products, and Boots is my favorite. It has a wide selection of products that don’t break the bank and there’s always something new to discover, so it’s always a bit of market research too.
Where do you see gaps in the black skincare market?
AD: I see gaps in how brands educate about their products and how they fail to deliver the benefits that would primarily appeal to the concerns of a lot of black women and men. So more can be done to better nuance the language for different demographics. From a product perspective, it would be great to see more of this in the physical sunscreen space – it can be hard to find a physical sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white residue on black skin, and there could be have more provisions in this area. .
Courtesy of Dija Ayodele
What about hair care and other categories for black people?
AD: The haircare and makeup categories are doing extremely well, with an incredible supply online and in-store. I would love to see more small independent hair care brands like Ori By Titi, Dizziak, Charlotte Mensah and Trepadora get more mainstream airtime.
What are the do’s and don’ts of beauty, common mistakes and pro tips?
AD: Make an appointment with a skincare professional and get personalized advice on how to treat and manage your skin. Don’t forget the sunscreen – it’s important to protect against diseases like skin cancer, but also to prevent sun damage and skin discoloration. A common mistake is to assume that black skin is hard and tough because of melanin. It’s not. It is more sensitive because any skin trauma causes the production of excess melanin, which then causes an uneven and uneven skin tone.
Pro Tip: Leave professional skin care procedures, such as chemical peels and micro-needling, to professionals in a safe, sterile environment. Likewise, Botox and fillers should only be performed by qualified doctors and nurses. If your beautician or beautician offers you an injectable, run like the wind.