Skin Revolution: The Ultimate Guide to Beautiful and Healthy Skin of Colour
Welcome to our Skin Revolution. I hope that this book will radically transform your approach to skincare by providing you with the tools to decipher the ingredients within products, discount the marketing hype on the packaging, demystify your skin’s chemistry and empower you to do right by your skin throughout your lifetime.
Approximately 5 in 7 people in the world have skin of colour. We are a global majority.
Despite this figure, five-sevenths of skincare products do not cater to skin of colour. In fact, we struggle to find products suitable for our skin. I have analysed over 150 brands for my unsponsored YouTube channel to decode the ingredients list and let you know if the product being reviewed is suitable for us or not. So far my channel has had 30 million views in just one year, with requests for me to test new products coming in from viewers all the time, which shows just how much this information is needed – and how hard it is to find.
Skin Revolution has one mission at its heart: to provide much-needed tender loving care to the skin of colour community.
It is no secret that our skin shades are underrepresented in beauty and fashion, but our melanin-rich skin is beautiful and should be treated as such.
This book is the result of over a decade of study and research that I have undertaken in the formulation of skincare products specifically for skin of colour. This information took hundreds of thousands of pounds in research and failed clinical trials. It has cost me many sleepless nights, which has felt lonely at times. However, out of that pain and frustration I identified the most effective ingredients for skin of colour, the correct percentages and how to combine them so that our global skin of colour family receives the best for our skin. Although some people have asked if I am completely sure I want to share my insider secrets from making these products – in case they are used by cosmetics competitors – I have never been more certain in my response: 100 per cent, yes.
I am here to serve my skin of colour family – you, the readers of this book – across the world. I hope to present you with education and empowerment about the choices you are making for your skin. By lifting the curtain on the skincare industry, I’m handing back power to you, the consumer. This is the reason why I started my YouTube channel in 2019: Dr Vanita Rattan – Dedicated to Skin of Colour.
The information in this book is my answer to the hundreds of queries sent in by followers of my channel, who want to better understand how to take care of their melanin-rich skin.
Skincare products can sometimes be mystifying and overwhelming, with product promises, patch tests, timelines for visible results and an infinite array of creams, gels, oils and toners on offer.
I’m here to help you on your skincare journey, whether you’re just starting out or are already deep into a daily ten-step skincare routine.
The sheer array of products and competing claims makes it easier for cosmetics companies to dazzle you into buying products, but remember that the beautiful photoshoot images have zero to do with what is in the bottle.
Throughout these chapters I have included my own formulation insights to show how skincare products are made and shared what I have learned throughout my journey as a cosmetic formulator. By the end of this book you should be able to tell me what active ingredients you want to see in your skincare products to solve a particular problem and have a confident understanding of how to look after your unique and beautiful skin.
I first began my journey in cosmetic formulation dedicated solely to skin of colour about twelve years ago. Back then, there was much we were yet to discover. It wasn’t common knowledge that our melanocytes (the melanin-producing cells in our skin) were more reactive and unpredictable than in Caucasian skin.
Hyperpigmentation is the number one skin concern for skin of colour.
Put simply, this is when melanin production increases in a specific area. Hyperpigmentation leads to dark patches on the skin, which can be distressing and restrictive for what you wear. It can happen on the face from acne, a scar or as melasma from UV radiation. It can occur during puberty – usually affecting the underarms, inner thighs, knees and around the mouth. It can appear after any inflammation from a rash, eczema, insect bite or a cut. This means we need to know how to prevent it in the first place and how to treat it quickly to get the best results.
Skin of colour needs different treatments and ingredient concentrations than Caucasian skin. In the past, we were completely reliant on product marketing messages, even if the ingredients didn’t match up with the claims, which left us confused and with unsatisfying results. And even though doctors knew the side-effect of hyperpigmentation treatments was often more hyperpigmentation, they were completely reliant on cosmetic companies to resolve those issues for skin of colour.
Now, the picture is different. The word is spreading fast that skin of colour requires products that are designed specifically for our issues and that won’t cause unnecessary irritation. I want us to become empowered in our skincare choices, together. One follower of my channel, who is living in Jamaica, let me know that she had been browsing in the cosmetics aisle of a store and had come across another skin-of-colour sister doing the exact same thing. After a brief exchange, they realised that they were both following the advice I had shared on my Instagram page. Not only did this warm my heart, it showed me how we are learning to read ingredients lists to see if products are actually able to do what they claim, and that this movement is truly global.
Newer platforms like TikTok mean that information and education on skincare is being introduced to the next generation at a much younger age. These platforms can provide young people with information that will help them avoid causing harm to their skin that would normally only be available from a specialist doctor or aesthetic practitioner – although be warned that they can also introduce worrying misinformation (more on that later!). I wanted to write this book so that it could be used as a tool for people of any age, at any point in their skincare journey, to learn how to look after their body’s biggest organ. At last, skin of colour is rightly being recognised as a priority, so much so that I am being approached by brands globally to assist with formulas for skin of colour to make products suitable for us. This would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.
As a formulator with a line of products created for skin of colour, I often get asked why such skincare products have not been made by any big manufacturers yet.
My critics might argue that big companies are surely more equipped than I am to research and create for skin of colour. While larger companies certainly have the resources to mass-produce at a cheaper price than I can, and no doubt have more extensive research facilities, the problem stems from not knowing that skin of colour requires products that cater for our skin. You only know there is a problem in the skincare offering if you have skin of colour and realise products on the shelf aren’t working or are making the situation worse. A common example is if you have hyperpigmentation, have tried to treat it, then realised the product you bought was burning your skin and making the problem worse.
The gap in the market for skin of colour exists for three main reasons:
- You need to BE the demographic to know there is a problem.
- It is not enough to just BE the demographic, you need to know how to formulate and conduct trials for skin of colour, which requires an immense amount of knowledge and skill.
- Cosmetic companies need to know if a venture is financially viable before embarking on years of costly research. As they have never considered the gap in product experience for those with skin of colour, they have not been keen to commit resources to creating bespoke skincare.
It’s time to bridge the gap between research on skin of colour and the manufacturing of skincare products.
My critics might ask me, ‘What makes you think you are so special that nobody else has figured this all out?’ To which my response is that I am really nothing special at all. All I have is my unwavering commitment to do the best by skin of colour, a mission helped by the fact that I am a workaholic who loves to tackle problems that no one else has tried to and I won’t stop until I have succeeded. I am the child of immigrants, and if any of you have the same background you will know that failure is never an option and an immense work ethic, bordering on obsession, is the norm. My parents owned a cosmetics company and so I got to experiment in their lab with their ingredients and their cosmetic formulator. I was also fortunate that I had two degrees – a Medical Degree (MBBS) and a (BSc) in Physiology and Pharmacology.
It is quite rare for a doctor to not work in a hospital after six years of medical school. To deviate from practising medicine face-to-face with patients and instead venture into a lab to learn how to ‘make creams’ is not really on the cards when you feel that you could be saving lives! But I knew that this journey was important because the needs of the skin of colour community had not yet been met by mainstream cosmetics companies.
Being both a doctor and a cosmetic formulator gives me a unique understanding of how ingredients should be combined and how the resulting products affect people in a clinical setting. It also helped me to read clinical trials, which confirmed the gaping holes in research for skin of colour aesthetics.
Note to Readers
Introduction – The Skin Revolution Begins
1. Getting to know your skin
2. Getting savvy with looking after your skin
4. How to manage hyperpigmentation
5. Skincare throughout your lifetime
6. Attacking acne
8. Common skin conditions
9. Hair and skin
10. Skincare for men
11. Pregnancy skincare
12. Baby, kids and teens skincare
13. Skin concern combinations
The Ultimate Skincare Glossary
Index of searchable terms
About the Author
About the Publisher
|September 6, 2022
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