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Psalmuel Josephs, Lucy Kingóri & Mantombi Makhubela Talk ‘Everything Skincare’ for POC

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Modaculture beauty issue 2023 - Psalmuel Josephs, Lucy Kingóri & Mantombi Makhubela Talk 'Everything Skincare' for People Of Colour
Modaculture Digital September | October 2023 Cover

Though beginning to evolve, the truth within the beauty industry’s landscape has often been hidden beneath layers of misconceptions and marketing ploys. For too long, People of Colour—especially Africans—have been left in the shadows, their unique skincare needs and beauty aspirations overshadowed by a flood of white-washed messaging. The result? A skincare market teeming with products that do little to address the specific needs of Black and Brown people. As the industry grapples with a long-overdue disruption, it becomes evident that the quest for genuine representation and education in skincare is far from over.

In this eye-opening exploration for Modaculture Beauty Issue 2023, we had tête-à-têtes with three skincare voices in Africa—Psalmuel Josephs, Lucy Kingóri, and Mantombi Makhubela—who are on the frontlines of this transformative movement, seeking to redefine what skincare should mean for us as Africans, using their work to point out irregularities in the industry and urging POC to embrace their unique skin with confidence.

Lucy Kingóri – Skincare Product Formulator, Kenya

Understand your skin type, skin condition and skin needs before getting enticed by the amazing marketing of non-African brands that are flooding the market.

Lucy Kingóri, Modaculture Digital, Sept-Oct 2023

Meet Lucy Kingóri, a skincare product formulator and the founder of BU.KE’ Brands, a beauty brand born out of a mother’s love. Lucy Kingóri shuttled between different industries before settling into providing skincare solutions for Blacks and Africans. The idea for her brand, BU.KE’, was conceived in 2014, around the time when her son was born. Unfortunately, the little boy was born with Eczema, a skin condition that caused him to scratch his skin raw.

According to her, she was heartbroken watching him struggle, couldn’t take him out to get sunlight because of how sensitive his skin looked, and moved from doctor to doctor in search of solutions. Instead, she got short-term solutions, or worse, steroid-based creams that would often bleach his skin.

“One day a friend visited me from South Sudan and she noticed my son’s skin. She then gave me a cream that she had packed in a paper bag (it was shea butter from South Sudan), and out of desperation, I decided to use it on my 6-month-old baby. It worked! I was sold. It was then that I decided to have the cream tested and certified so I could start packaging and selling to others with the same plight,” Lucy narrated.

After about a year, she decided to take formulation classes via Formula Botanica in the UK, in a quest to understand skincare products and link the learnings with the knowledge she’s amassed over the years. Two years in, she was able to create a diverse range of products and enrolled in Strathmore Business School so as to be able to run the business properly. Nine years and twenty-one products later, Lucy Kingóri is attending to the scalp and skin care needs of Africans while promoting the amazing ingredients and formulations from Kenya and Africa, redefining popular opinions of African-product inferiority.

MODACULTURE:

What do you think the problem is when it comes to Black and African representation in the beauty and skincare industry?

LUCY: 

“I feel few specialty beauty stores are open to Black and African products because they mostly feel our formulations might be less superior than those of other non-African brands. Which then means we reach fewer African and Black consumers. Again, generally, the beauty industry has historically not been open to having a more hospitable ecosystem that is supportive of Black businesses. Lack of funding to catapult the African brands into the next level also presents a challenge. You therefore find that most home grown Black businesses do not make it past the third year of business and if they do, they do not scale at the same rate as the non-African brands.”

Modaculture beauty issue 2023 - Psalmuel Josephs, Lucy Kingóri & Mantombi Makhubela Talk 'Everything Skincare' for People Of Colour

When asked what the greatest challenge she’d faced as a skincare formulator, as well as with her company, BU.KE’, when it came to representing Africans and managing their skincare and beauty needs in this industry, she explained how it was scaling beyond the borders. As far as skincare is concerned locally, she narrated, there has been an influx of imports that take up a huge market share, over-regulation of the African industry, and of course, a tough time penetrating the market in the West.

As someone representing and solving the skincare needs of Africans in the beauty industry, Lucy has had a few highlights validating the work she does professionally and with BU.KE’. She has notably curated product lines that have provided solutions to the skin needs of men and women across Africa, a particular feat she’s been recognized for as far as in the Dubai and European markets. Lucy has also managed to marry skincare with other holistic approaches to solving skincare concerns, such as partnering with local tea farmers to produce and pack specialty teas that solve skincare issues from the inside more permanently.

From your wealth of experience, what would you say is the best way for us Africans to take care of our skin without looking at what’s been popularised in the media?

I would first say to understand your skin type, skin condition and skin needs before we are enticed by the amazing marketing by non-African brands that are flooding the market. Skin care requires a simple approach with the most important steps being cleansing and using sunscreen. Yes, sunscreen is a must!

Lucy Kingóri, Modaculture Digital, Sept-Oct 2023

What are some common skincare tips and recommendations we should know as Africans?

What works for your friend might not necessarily work for you so seek first to understand your own skin needs and also at the end of every skincare routine, you must use sunscreen. It’s the best and ultimate anti-ageing product.

Lucy Kingóri, Modaculture Digital, Sept-Oct 2023

Psalmuel Josephs – Medical Aesthetician, Nigeria

Modaculture beauty issue 2023 - Psalmuel Josephs, Lucy Kingóri & Mantombi Makhubela Talk 'Everything Skincare' for People Of Colour

The quest for an “even skin tone” actually is a Western beauty ideology. In persons of colour, you aren’t actually supposed to have one shade of brown/black all over your body.

Psalmuel Josephs, Modaculture Digital, Sept-Oct 2023

Meet Psalmuel Josephs, founder of 25PSkyn, a medical aesthetician, cosmetic scientist, and formulator who has been in the skincare and aesthetics industry for about eight years. Samuel started as an assistant at a dermatology facility in France, after which he began taking courses and programs in skincare, cosmetic science, and aesthetics. He then moved to Lagos and co-founded a skincare clinic where he worked as the Lead Aesthetician and Aesthetics Director for about six years. During these years, he ran and pioneered pop-up skin clinics in Abuja, Accra, Port-Harcourt, Dubai, London, and Canada, working with a wide demographic and managing varying levels of skincare conditions. Psalmuel also served as an educator for a beauty college where he taught advanced skincare courses involving cosmetic science, skin anatomy, and basic dermatology for aestheticians, as well as trained over 200 students who have gone on to impact the skincare and aesthetics industry.

The genesis of 25PSkyn stems from his desire to provide a valuable gift to the People of Colour community. With pressing questions about the anatomy of their skin, the myriad factors influencing skin conditions, effective mitigation strategies, suitable active ingredients, techniques, protocols, and necessary equipment, he embarked on a mission to address the unique skin care needs of the Black and Brown community. Samuel’s mission is clear: “I want to promote a proper exchange of science-based information regarding the intricate nature of our ethnic skin and how different active ingredients interact with our skin. This mission goes hand-in-hand with educating and catering to the specific skincare needs of People of Colour,” he declared with unwavering determination. Through 25PSkyn, Psalmuel Josephs seeks to illuminate the path to comprehensive skincare understanding and care tailored to the diverse needs of Black and Brown communities.

MODACULTURE:

What do you think the problem is when it comes to Black and POC representation in the beauty industry?

PSALMUEL: 

Here’s what I think. There’s a certain Western standard of beauty that has been peddled in the skin-of-colour society for way too long. For example, the quest for an “even skin tone” actually is a Western beauty ideology. 

In persons of colour, you aren’t actually supposed to have one shade of brown/black all over your body. Certain areas of the body are naturally supposed to look darker than the others, your skin’s anatomy designed it to be so. I believe we need more skin science for People of Colour, not generalised beauty ideals or imported beauty standards. We need to see more skin-related research and studies carried out on People of Colour. We need more textbooks or skin care resources created for them.

Psalmuel Josephs, Modaculture Digital, Sept-Oct 2023

When asked about the greatest challenge he’d faced as a master aesthetician, as well as with his company, 25PSkyn, concerning the representation of POC and managing their beauty needs, he informed us that it was finding result-oriented resources, products, and treatment protocols specifically developed for skin concerns in people of colour. “A good amount of the research work used in the development of most skin care products and treatment protocols does not have enough data done on them,” he said.

Psalmuel Josephs, Lucy Kingóri & Mantombi Makhubela Talk 'Everything Skincare' for People Of Colour

As an advocate for People of Colour in the beauty and skincare industry, Psalmuel has experienced several highlights that validate the work he is doing as a master aesthetician and with his company, 25PSkyn. Caroline Hirons, “one of the OG veterans in the industry,” held a public sensitization where she openly discussed the lack of representation in the skin care needs of People of Colour. She cited one of the globally recognized beauty associations whose coursework at the time solely focused on the skincare needs of white people. “That was a moment for us as black aesthetic practitioners, and it’s good to see the positive outcomes of these advocacy moves,” Psalmuel said.

From your wealth of experience, what would you say is the best way for a person of colour to take care of their skin?

“The first way to really take care of your skin is to actually go see a skincare expert/aesthetician who is very vast in managing ethnic skin, especially if you are a person of colour. Here’s why I say this: There is an insane amount of information out there about skincare and skin health. 

It’s really easy to get misled by the vast amount of information out there, most especially because skincare comes in trends and seasons and these skincare brands go out of their way to do extensive marketing. So it is easy to jump into the wrong type of skincare. 

I would say the first thing you should do is to go and see a skincare expert you are comfortable with and commit to a skincare program.”

What are some common skincare tips and recommendations we should know as People of Colour?

  1. When it comes to skincare routines, keep it simple, your routine should not be more than 3 steps (5 steps should be the maximum at a time) but less is more.
  2. Sunscreen is not an agenda, it is the foundation of skincare, and it is both corrective and preventive. So use sunscreen every morning.
  3. Drink at least 6 glasses of water daily. Hydrating serums and creams do not give water to your skin, instead, they work best when your body is well hydrated.
  4. Go see an aesthetician for professional skincare treatments.

Mantombi Makhubela – “Skinfluencer,” South Africa

Modaculture beauty issue 2023 - Psalmuel Josephs, Lucy Kingóri & Mantombi Makhubela Talk 'Everything Skincare' for People Of Colour

Skincare, like everything else, requires understanding, patience and consistency. Your skin cycle takes about 28-42 days to regenerate. So, you have to give it time. 

Mantombi Makhubela, Modaculture Digital, Sept-Oct 2023

Another voice on the frontlines of this transformative movement, using their work to urge People of Colour to embrace their unique skin with confidence, is Mantombi Makhubela.

Growing up in a small town in Mpumalanga, Nelspruit, Mantombi Makhubela had dreams of her own. She dabbled in a little bit of everything and obtained a degree in Community Development and Politics. According to her, there was a profound sense of emptiness despite all these pursuits, and she found herself lacking motivation.

In her quest to find her “muse,” Mantombi had to engage in deep introspection about what she truly desired to do. By taking something deeply personal, leveraging it, and dedicating countless hours to study and research, she embarked on a career dedicated to representing the unique skin care needs of People of Colour and providing skincare solutions for Black women.

Luckily for me, I didn’t really look far and really leveraged off what I had – fairly good skin. I’d get a lot of compliments from various people about how I had beautiful skin and how I achieved fresh and healthy skin. Although, at the time, I also had issues like hyperpigmentation. I then went down a rabbit hole. Every day, I would research and watch different influencers and doctors teach and explain the sciences of skin, and how it works. I studied a lot of dermatology studies, did an online course on skincare, etc. I made sure I set time aside every day to really find a way to understand it and understand it well. 

Mantombi Makhubela, Modaculture Digital, Sept-Oct 2023

Mantombi then set herself out on a quest to seek products that served People of Colour so she could recommend these skin products as solutions, backed up by all her research and learnings to Black women. A victim of marketing, her first PR package was from a Korean skincare brand. She began to see and understand the gaps in the beauty industry — sharing educational content relevant to People of Colour — and that’s how her career of “Skinfluencing” was born.

MODACULTURE:

As a Black woman providing skincare solutions for other Black women, what do you think are the problems when it comes to Black and POC representation in the beauty industry?

MANTOMBI: 

Hmmm.. the concept of identity, looking at the way history has shaped Black and POC in the beauty and skincare industry, it still has a long way to go. 

The beauty industry, and by extension, the skincare world still mainly caters for white skin. There is little or no information specifically focused on Black Skin, so with a lot of what we read, we have to infer its relevance to us. Things are slowly changing, and shout out to the small brands that are coming out and catering for Black Skin. 

Mantombi Makhubela, Modaculture Digital, Sept-Oct 2023

“The beauty industry has, however, failed to consider and reflect on the needs and prioritisation of Black Skin. Awareness of psychological differences is lacking, such as why melanin is more impactful on Black Skin, and cultural sensitivities such as colourism and the effects of slavery and racism fail to be considered or engaged empathetically. And for this to change, we have to look at history and understand how it has shaped and contributed to our experiences in beauty today; a process that is both poignant and empowering.”

Modaculture beauty issue 2023 - Psalmuel Josephs, Lucy Kingóri & Mantombi Makhubela Talk 'Everything Skincare' for People Of Colour

When asked about the greatest challenge she’d faced as a skincare influencer, concerning the representation of POC and managing their beauty needs, she mentioned how impatient we, as Black and Brown people, can be when it comes to seeing results in our skin. A common mistake often made is giving up too easily. 

I get told I have perfect skin, and the consistency it actually takes to have ‘good skin days’ is used as excuse by some people. But we need to know, as POC, that skincare, like everything else, requires understanding, patience, and consistency. Your skin cycle takes about 28-42 days to regenerate. So, you have to give it time.

Mantombi Makhubela, Modaculture Digital, Sept-Oct 2023

As a digital creator and “skinfluencer” catering to the skincare solutions of her audience, Mantombi has also had a few highlights that have validated her work. She receives comments and feedback from people praising her and thanking her for simplifying skincare, making it quick and easy to digest, and providing actual educational value to them. Discovering her purpose as a helping hand to different people, especially those who need assistance in loving and taking care of the ‘skin they are in,’ filled every void she previously felt in her career. And of course, receiving several free products takes up actual space such that there is no void left unfilled.

From your wealth of experience, what would you say is the best way for a person of colour to take care of their skin?

“Protect it at all costs and learn the basics.”

For the longest time ever, we’ve been told that “Black doesn’t crack”. I’m here to break it to you and say, BLACK WILL CRACK, IF YOU SLACK”. Trust me when I say, you don’t need a science degree to learn how to take care of your skin. Get the basics right, leave the jargon out and focus on your skin needs and you’ll be good. 

Mantombi Makhubela, Modaculture Digital, Sept-Oct 2023

“We all have different skin textures, some with similarities in terms of responsiveness but I think the important thing to say is, as a POC, wear sunscreen!” 

Share some common skincare tips and recommendations with us. 

“Common skincare tips from me that never change: CLEANSE, HYDRATE & PROTECT (in the morning) – make sure you’re using a gentle cleanser, a hydrating serum and sunscreen! My current favourites: Cleanser – Kiehl’s Gentle Cleanser Hydrating Serum – Ren Skincare Marine Serum.

CLEANSE, TREAT & NOURISH (in the evening) – Your skin repairs itself during the night, so if you’re dealing with certain issues, tackle them at night. My current favourites: Barrier Repair Serum from Pastry Skincare Vitamin C Serum – The Body Shop.”


The full digital version of this story is available here.

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