Beauty “rich in melanin” is suddenly everywhere

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A series of new brands are being marketed as being aimed at “melanin-rich skin”.

It’s a decision based on decades of people of color feeling left out of the beauty market. The story is overwhelming. In drugstores keeping hair products for textured hair behind lock and key to brands offering very narrow ranges of foundation shades, the beauty industry has long been designed for white women. On popular social media accounts like Trend, which has 1.6 million subscribers and chronicles beauty product launches, shoppers are constantly speaking out on issues of inclusiveness. Laundry Estée also frequently calls brands on diversity issues.

When it comes to inclusiveness in beauty, it’s obvious that textured hair has its own needs, and darker skin requires more nuanced foundation options. Things get a bit tricky when it comes to skin care. On the one hand, the skin is the skin. On the other hand, some concerns, like hyperpigmentation, are much more prevalent in BIPOC communities. In fact, according to certified dermatologist Dr. Ann Brewer, melanin-rich skin is “”more than 500% more likely“Have hyperpigmentation. Additionally, concerns about hyperpigmentation are the number one reason members of the BIPOC community see dermatologists.

On this topic, Dr Chaneve Jeanitton, certified oculofacial plastic surgeon and founder of Epi.logic skin care, said: “All skin types, regardless of skin tone, have the same basic needs. Sun protection, antioxidant support, help with cell renewal and hydration benefit everyone. But a key difference between skin tones is how melanin-rich skin differs in its response to even mild irritation with hyperpigmentation.

Skin care brand Eadem was launched last week, founded by Marie Kouadio Amouzame and Alice Lin Glover, former colleagues at Google. They bonded by a shared love of beauty and frustration with the lack of effective products available for their skin’s needs. Amouzame is West African (originally from Ivory Coast) but grew up in France, and Glover is Taiwanese. “As Western women of color, we spend more on beauty than anyone, ”Amouzame said. “We really wanted to offer products that will actually work and not waste [customers’] money.”

The brand launched direct-to-consumer sales with a single product, Milk Wonder, a serum designed to target dark spots without lightening the rest of the skin. The brand garnered a wave of attention, becoming a winner of the Glossier Fellowship for Black-Owned Businesses and being accepted into the Sephora Accelerate program, all ahead of its launch. While, of course, they were excited about the press and the accolades, the founders also recognized the bittersweet nature of the products for a marginalized group that gained attention in the aftermath of the tragedy – the murder of George Floyd. .

“I hate to see this called a ‘trend’,” said Katonya Breaux, founder of Sun, an SPF cosmetic line that makes zinc-based sunscreens for darker skin tones (a clearer example of a product where differentiation is needed, due to the fact that mineral sunscreens often leave a white tint on darker skin). It is widely distributed, through retailers such as Dermstore, Goop, Credo, and Nordstrom, among others. “It’s not a ‘trend’, I think we have finally been heard and we are finally seen”, she said.

For the founders of the category, it is important to recognize that the need for these products is not new. “The numbers have always been there. People of color have always been the majority in the world, ”said Glover. The pigmentation disorder treatment market was valued to $ 5.4 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $ 10.2 billion by 2026. It’s just that the attention of investors and retailers was not there. “For so long, melanin-rich skin was an afterthought,” Jeanniton said.

Breaux is concerned that brands are opportunistic right now and are suddenly interested in the melanin-rich community. However, “I can be excited if they are really developing products that could be used in these communities,” she said.

Amouzame sees the benefits of having multiple competitors: “I think the more big companies that can support this, the better, because it’s not just one brand. It’s an international need and a necessity for people like us, so if the big companies with a lot of money can put more research behind what our skin needs, that’s absolutely fantastic. It wasn’t until last summer that a medical student took it upon himself to publish a book about skin diseases on darker skin, she stressed. “There is a lot of progress to be made, and big companies with big budgets can help shake things up in a meaningful way. ”

On that front, Unilever launched Mele, a skincare collection co-created with color dermatologists, in September 2020. Although, of course, that was in the works long before that. Another new skin care brand, Ustawi, founded by Natacha Paugam, will pre-launch later this summer with four products: Niacinamide dark spot corrector, vitamin C antioxidant serum, bamboo water protective mist and micellar water gel with myrtle leaf.

While the word melanin is often associated with the black community, Eadem largely defines rich in melanin, Glover said. “[It’s] a type of skin where they are still able to tan and not burn when exposed to the sun, ”she said, although the co-founders said anyone could use the Milk Serum Marvel. “Because many darker skinned people have more melanin in their skin, we’ve created a product that works for that particular pigment. ” said Amouzame.

While there is value in products designed for darker skin tones, there is perhaps just as much value in feeling seen by an industry where these customers have always felt ignored.


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