Skin is the new status symbol. I’m not even talking glass skin – thanks for that one KBeauty! It’s as much a part of your image as a professional as are your clothes and trendy makeup. You can’t exactly hide your face under a brown bag, and it is the one part of you that must always be seen.
This was Ozohu Adoh’s experience that led to the creation of the first ever luxury skin care line for WOC. China, incidentally, is her biggest market. You know how they love to play with skin care. “I was spending a lot of money on high end skin care products like La Prairie and La Mer. I tried them all. Nothing worked. I struggled for a decade with my skin before I found someone who figured I had follicular eczema. A type that does not show up as expected.”
She decided to handle it, researching, coming up with a lab of sorts. “I was not looking to create a brand out of it. I was just using it for myself and then my skin had a 360 and I completely forgot about it.” A friend saw her, wanted what she had. Ozohu shared her product. A friend of the friend wanted it too, and sure enough this doubled up as a most unexpected focus group.
You know how men simply love reminding us that our grandmas never had shelves filled with potions? Ignore them. Our environment is polluted. We don’t live surrounded by fresh air, eating what we kill and grow in weather unaffected by climate change. They did not need to. We do. Different times. Knowing women like her, black, well-heeled and dissatisfied with the market offerings, she realised the underlying knowledge of black skin as the missing ingredient. Hyperpigmentation, for instance, can be treated by targeting specific problem areas instead of lifting the entire complexion by a few degrees.
Science shows African skin heals differently from Caucasian skin. Considering her path, luxury was inevitable. “What makes this a luxe brand is what makes any other thing that qualifies a product to be a luxury brand; pay attention to details, quality, creating a product that is pleasing and certain key ingredients only found in a luxury product. I did a bucket load of research. I quit my job to work on this full time. Every single facet of this had to be well researched.”
Niche, boutique or small skin care brands are becoming de riquer in the luxury market. They have an unmatched advantage. Epara is a living, breathing formula that can be tweaked in real time based on feedback. Enter skintellectuals, women so switched on about skin care they discuss ingredients, demand transparency around the process, whether sustainable or ethically driven, clean beauty and have as a result, unwittingly made a case for storytelling as a form of strategy. “This is not about making money, at least not immediately. It is about building loyalty and building longevity,” she says.
We don’t have a culture of interacting with skin care when young. Just water and Vaseline. Late bloomers that we are means a probability of missing out on skin that looks good in our 40s and 50s.
“Damaged skin cannot be repaired overnight. This is what I am trying to get women to do. My daughter is looking after her skin because she has seen me do it. Eventually girls transition to makeup, but only because they have got skin care right,” adds Ozohu.
Now for the fun part.
Are you sure you have oily skin? Your wrong cleanser could be drying your skin, forcing it to produce more sebum.
Are you double cleansing? The foundation of healthy skin, Ozohu says, is cleansing.
Did you know the right skin care can literally change your skin type by giving it balance? When your skin is at its optimum, it needs less products.
Skin care changes as your skin changes because your skin is alive.
Hormones might demand that you use products that minimise or prevent breakouts.
SPF is really important for melanin. Keep it between SPF 30 and 35. If it is not so sunny, like the past couple of months, use a much lower SPF.
Ozohu summarises it best. “People have always thought dark skin is resilient and can survive anything. That is not true. It needs to be treated with a lot of care. This myth is very dangerous because when people make products for our skin they put in harsh ingredients. What I found is our skin deserves to be treated with gentleness and kindness.”