Or the skincare industry at that.
It is of no secret that the skincare industry has taken off on an unparalleled level these last few years, whether that’s the push for wellness, beauty trends influencing the no make-up make up look, or consumers are genuinely wanting to improve the nature of their skin.
The industry today has numerous amounts of brands that look after a range of skincare concerns from oily-combination, dull and dry skin to the latest obsession with anti-ageing, some include Tata Harper, Alpha H, Elemis, La Prairie and that’s just luxury. If we are including high street brands such as La Roche-Posay, No.7 and Avenue, the list is endless. You could walk the beauty halls of Selfridges, Harrods, Liberty’s and Boots and see the industry in its full glory but how much do these brands actually help our skin concerns and especially for women of colour who deal with specific issues such as hyper-pigmentation, age spots and oiliness. When looking into the finer ingredients of these brands and their products its surprising (and rather disappointing) to see that such established brands hold little knowledge or real focus on issues that concern many women of colour.
Take Kiehl’s for example, their collection alone ranges from dullness and dryness to anti-ageing, with their “blemish” product range being the only section that would appear to help hyper-pigmentation. Once looking at the ingredients it uncovers a soothing ginger root extract and an herbal extract that helps unclog pores and prevent new blemishes from arising, but nothing in its formula even suggests targeting common issues like discolouration. On the other end of the spectrum we could look at Estee Lauder, now as a brand that does incredibly well in catering to women of colour through their make-up, it’s disappointing to see that their skincare ranges lack the focused touch of inclusivity when it comes to skin. Their ranges target from age prevention, lifting/firming, multiple signs of ageing, lines/wrinkles, radiant health and pore minimizing. Just taking two brands as an example from many, its eye-opening to actually recognise what really looks after our skin. If we look at brands such as Farsali, Shea Moisture, Dr. Barbara Sturm, Urban Skin Rx, Carol’s Daughter and Sienna Naturals as just examples of what skincare ranges should look like when we uncover inclusivity and providing ranges for not just all skin types but also all skin tones.
What makes them different? Well their focus on natural extracts, ingredients and minimal to no chemical ingredients, makes the product as natural and as raw as possible. Taken straight from the environment it is produced in, the ranges soak up the natural ingredients from the earth, say Moroccan oil, argon oil, coconut oil, rose hip oils - brands and products that are rich in these ingredients develop a natural way of helping skin. Without taking a history lesson, many women of colour need the natural oils, extracts and ingredients taken from home countries such as Africa, The Middle East, Latin America as that is what the DNA and history of our heritage thrives in the best.
A woman who found this out and transformed the look in terms of luxury skincare is Ozohu Adoh, founder of skincare brand Epara. Meaning “to cocoon oneself” in the Nigerian dialect of Ebira, the brand was born out of a personal journey in skincare that caters to the unique understanding and needs of women of colour. An experimentation of her own product and formulation, Ozohu found that after trialling so many skincare brands, that we all know and love, they were doing nothing when it came to actually treat discolouration without resorting to traditional extremes such as bleaching. The products are of a high quality, that is derived from the rich soils of Africa and will wrap you “in an all-natural luxury”, repairing and pampering, promising to leave skin moisturised and hydrated. Most importantly, derived from mother earth, the ingredients are clinically proven to best suit skin concerns for women dealing with specific issues.
With more focus on Epara Skincare, we have to understand where the brand came from and how founder, Ozohu has turned her career in finance to her dream of maintaining a luxury skincare brand. All starting from her own skin difficulties and using brands that really wasn’t producing long-lasting or effective results until she formulated a few of her own ingredients with African origin to try on her skin – at the time a skincare brand wasn’t even an idea. Through months of trialling the products on her skin and with the oo’s and ahh’s from her friends around her, the lasting results of clear skin and reduction in hyper-pigmentation led to her friends putting in requests to try her formulation. Friends kept coming back wanting more and more, and the process sparked as to deliver a brand that would help women of colour worldwide, taking her formulation to a chemist and getting it safeguarded, the formula was ready to go.
“ Finding my chemist wasn’t too difficult but getting the packaging, logistics and marketing was hard because of I wanted so much for it, from sustainable and recyclable materials to producing a minimal and clean aesthetic”.
On Starting a Beauty Business
“ Defintely identifying the point of difference because the space is so saturated, how can you be authentic and offer what people want to buy into?”.
On Creative Design
“ It honestly comes down to Hard work and Luck! Luck because I was extraordinarily fortunate to be introduced to a group of designers who created the visuals for my brand”.
“ When getting my products stocked at Harrods it was a mix of good luck and hard work. I was introduced to the buyers in 2015 through a friend that was interested in my brand but they needed me to launch with more than 3 products. It wasn’t until the end of 2016 that we trialled the customer demand in store and it has worked ever since”.
On What Epara Brings to the Beauty Community.
“ You don’t need to compromise on product, it should speak into your lifestyle without having to alter it. You want to come home and see products that you want to use, their aesthetic should be pleasing”
On Epara’s Best Selling Products.
“ It would have to be the body cream, cleansing oil and night balm. The Cleansing Oil removes all oily residue and leaves a soft velvety feel, the night balm is soft and comforting the skin with visible, effective results. Cleansers are the number one product for dryness amongst women of colour, it strips the natural oils – so its important to have a moisturising oil”.
On Marketing and Social Media.
“ We are currently having a break from social media to re-group but we have worked with influencers such as Shirley Eniang in the past and we make sure our feed is rich in beauty from landscapes, art & culture and beauty.”
What annoyed you about black skincare brands
“One it always looked cheap and tacky and they always had a motto that it worked for everyone but it didn’t”.
On Plans For The Future.
“ At the moment we have 10 products and we know we have more to develop and cater too”.
View Epara skincare here and value their stockists online and in Harrods.