The way in which the skincare industry is moving, more and more women are looking into luxury skincare treatments. Whether its the products, the treatments or the chemical/laser treatments, we are using make up less and spending more money and time in investing in our skin. This last year, the beauty industry has seen a huge increase in the use of dermatologists and facialists - and as an avid skincare fan myself, a facial is a luxury treat that is certainly on the cards.
With my last interview on luxury skincare with Ozohu Adoh, founder of Epara Skincare, it was vitally important to hear from skin experts themselves on the direction of the beauty industry for women of colour. This article is talking to London-based Aesthetician, Dija Ayodele, who has founded a unique platform for women of colour wanting to seek skin treatments in cities. Black Skin Directory is a place where women of colour can really learn about their skin problems, how to deal with them and where to seek the best help. Dija Ayodele discusses career, Black Skin Directory, skincare and treatments.
How did you get into Aesthetics, and how does it differ from a dermatologist?
I started off in make up and quickly realized that I enjoyed coaching and advising clients about their skin than I did applying the make up. So I thought, if I’m going to advise, I’m going to have to get trained with the proper facts and skincare knowledge. So after training as a Beauty Therapist, I did some advanced training in Aesthetics alongside product brands training to enable me to practice as an Aesthetician.
A dermatologist has far more extensive training. For starters, a dermatologist is a doctor who has done five or six years in medical school and then further seven years specialist training in the function of the body, skin and skin diseases of which there are over 2000 classifications. This is all before then can be accredited with the full title of Dermatologist.
Dermatologists sit at the top of the food chain if you like and they can even perform skin surgery. A lot of dermatologists who have skincare practices will also employ an Aesthetician to do more routine skincare treatments.
What do you enjoy most about your role, is there anything that you dislike doing?
I love helping patients achieve their skincare goals and see visible improvements in their skin condition, especially if they’ve been going around for years and not getting answers or results. Sometimes they don’t achieve this with me, but through a recommendation I make for them to another practitioner. Either way, we’re all winning,
There’s not so much I dislike doing – like many types of roles, there is a fair amount of admin involved as I have to keep track of all patients – their improvements and any setbacks.
Do you find that with new innovations evolving all of the time that you have to keep educating yourself on new treatments, ingredients and procedures?
Absolutely, it’s part of my role to keep abreast of new treatments, products and equipment, even if I’m not going to include them in my practice. Patients do ask a lot of questions and I pride myself on being able to provide answers and point them in the right direction. I attend a lot of trade shows, conferences and training to equip me to provide a helpful and excellent service to patients.
And, how did you come about launching your own practice?
I’ve always been a bit of a ‘do my own thing’ person so it was a natural step for me, as I needed my work to revolve around my family life, so I knew that being employed by a large practice wasn’t really an option. Plus I wanted to be able to offer a bespoke service catering a specific group – women of colour – who sometimes get overlooked in aesthetic service provision.
On Black Skin Directory.
Congratulations on your new venture regarding Black Skin Directory, Can you explain what it is and how you came about the idea?
In a nutshell the Black Skin Directory is a platform that exists to service people of colour and their skincare needs. From finding practitioners who are qualified and experiences in treating darker skin tones, to educational articles of the unique physiology of darker skin and skincare as whole to events that enable the public to meet with and engage with skincare topics on a far more personal level.
The idea was birthed from my direct experience with clients in their struggle to find skincare professionals who they felt comfortable in assessing and treating their skin.
What has been the most rewarding part?
Most definitely the feedback; and from those who appreciate the platform and the need for it. It makes me feel even more galvanized in my mission to growing BSD into an authority and trusted destination for people of colour.
How did you get the clinics to advertise with you?
To begin it involved a lot of canvassing. Being in the industry I’m privileged to know of the extensive list of clinics and practitioners out there who do amazing on all skin tones and are experienced in treating darker skin so initially I approached those. The majority responding positively and expressed an understanding for the need for a website such as the Black Skin Directory from a consumer and business level.
What are your plans for the future regarding Black Skin Directory?
There is so much that we have planned and plenty of routes that are open to exploration. At the moment our main focus is ramping-up our educational content and collaborating with brands to create unique and informative events.
From your experience what do you find to be the biggest skincare concern in the UK?
It depends who you’re talking to – for women of colour – it’s usually some form of hyperpigmentation – whether it's post trauma e.g from acne or resulting from a treatment or sun damage. For Caucasian women, it can be loss of skin tone resulting in fine lines and wrinkles.
What is an important element of skincare that you find is underrated or not talked about enough?
1. Not using sun protection
2. Self diagnosing skin concerns without consulting a professional
3. Lack of proper skincare routines
What is the latest skincare ingredient or technology that you highly recommend?
Cysteamine Cream – it is going to be a game changer for women of colour – it’s set to be the new standard for tackling hyperpigmentary conditions and melasma topically and will eventually replace hydroquinone as the gold standard for unifying skin tone. It’s safer, can be used longer term without adverse effects.
What beauty routines do you recommend for daily use?
The easier the routine, the better. Especially focusing on using high quality ingredients that have multiple benefits to your skin. In the morning, an exfoliating face wash, antioxidant serum and/or moisturiser, sunscreen and in the evening double cleanse with an oil then mild exfoliating face wash and a skin treatment lotion with retinol for enhanced cell turnover, plumping the skin and stimulating collagen and hyaluronic acid.
Dija, you specialise in chemical peels, can you talk us through the advantages of them?
Chemicals peels come in various strengths – light, medium and deep. Light chemical peels are great from keeping skin in it’s optimum health – maintaining cell turnover for exfoliation and smoothing skin texture, encouraging, stimulating and balancing internal hydration, stimulating collagen to keep skin plump and supported enhancing skin tone, clarity and radiance by tackling hyperpigmented skin cells.
You can even use chemical peels on other parts of the body like back, hands, thighs and back of arms to address conditions like Keratosis Pilaris and Pseudofolliculitis.
Medium and deep skin peels deliver all of the above at a much deeper level including smoothing out fine lines/ wrinkles.
Are store bought treatments a great alternative for people that cannot afford highly specialised treatments?
It Depends what you’re buying but in general they will never be at the strength required to effect real change in the deeper layers of skin, however you may experience some temporary superficial skin changes.
What brands do you recommend for women and men who cant afford treatments?
Treatments are actually only one third of achieving healthy skin. So if one cannot afford to commit to regular treatments, it’s actually ok. It’s more important to follow a sensible skin care routine like ensuring you cleanse your face twice a day, using good quality products including sunscreen and establishing a lifestyle that's beneficial to your skin – less alcohol, more sleep, less stress, healthy colourful and balanced diet with good fats and proteins.
At the very least go for a professional skincare consultation to set you on the right track, be upfront about your budget and your skincare professional will be able to work out the best solution for you. Don’t waste time and money self diagnosing.
And, your number 1 skincare brand?
I enjoy using NeoStrata in my work with patients. The professional peel system delivers exactly what my patients are looking for – rejuvenated and revitalised skin with no down time. I also like the sister brand Exuviance. Both ranges have a number of segments in them, so I can pick and choose the best combination of products for my patients. The price points aren’t painful either!
In addition, I use both brands on my own skin and on my family, so I know it’s a winner all round that delivers all the time.