There have been advancements in expanding shade ranges for women of color with not only Fenty, but swift reaction from prestige and mass lines to broaden foundation choices. There are also myriad brands addressing makeup to complement undertones in color cosmetics.
But to date, less has been done in skin care, especially in the $5.6 billion, as tracked by the NPD Group, luxury portion of the business. Nigerian-born Ozohu Adoh pinpointed a gap in the market for premium formulas tweaked for special requirements of black women — especially in regard to hyperpigmentation, skin sensitivity and uneven skin tones. When she couldn’t find products to satisfy her skin issues, she created her own called Epara Skincare.
The range launched last year in Harrods and is now coming stateside with an exclusive debut at Barneys’ Madison Avenue location and on barneys.com. The company’s own web site will also bring the premium line to U.S. shoppers.
“We knew very quickly that the U.S. had to be on our radar for commercial success. It had to be one of our key markets,” said Adoh, noting there is a much larger propensity of women of color consumers in America versus the U.K.
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The luxury skin-care line caught the attention of Barneys, which is fortifying its beauty lineup. Recently Barneys announced a series of pop-ups to showcase emerging beauty brands, including Epara. Other items include SiO, a line of silicone patches meant to smooth wrinkles; Iiuvo, a fragrance and candle business; Loli Beauty, a customizable skin-care line; Lab to Beauty, a CBD skin-care brand; Soohyang, which makes home fragrances, and Ded Cool, a unisex, vegan fragrance brand.
“At Barneys New York, our customers are always looking for the latest in exceptional skincare and cosmetics to suit their individual needs,” said Jennifer Miles, senior vice president, divisional merchandise manager. The line appeals to the retailer for its handcrafted, natural products derived from organic ingredients from Africa.
Barneys is rolling out all 10 stockkeeping units, which range from moisturizers to a hydrating mist. Prices range from $60 to $230.
Epara — which means to cocoon oneself in the Nigerian dialect of Ebira — contains botanicals, essential oils and plant extracts handpicked to cater to needs of women of color. Adoh tapped her experience in finance to devise a solid game plan to launch Epara, zeroing in on organic ingredients from the rich soils of Africa such as moringa oil, marula oil and shea butter. In doing so, she found she could also support local communities and fair-trade practices. When she first formulated her line, friends noticed improvements in her skin. That emboldened her to trade in her financial career for beauty entrepreneurship. Many of her friends were using traditional premium brands such as La Mer, which worked by still have shortcomings in regard to darker complexions. “When they tried my products, they said this is what they were looking for,” she said. She backed up her claims with clinical results.
Black skin, she said, reacts differently to skin issues compared to Caucasian women’s skin, mostly from levels of melanin. Black skin can also appear shiny, an issue general market products only exacerbated. “But interestingly, we found that Caucasian women also react favorably to our line,” Adoh said. She hopes it resonates with Barneys’ shoppers and that they “enjoy engaging with the brand as much as I enjoyed creating it.”