Skincare line for men of color launches in industry known for racist attitudes

Ceylon, created by Patrick Boateng, was created to treat conditions affecting darker skin such as acne scarring

‘It is shocking to me that in 2021 there is still such a huge lack of representation in this space.’

‘It is shocking to me that in 2021 there is still such a huge lack of representation in this space.’ 

The first ever skincare product developed with black men in mind has launched in a male grooming industry that is worth billions of dollars but still known for racist attitudes.

Ceylon was created by Patrick Boateng, specifically with a view to treat conditions which affect darker skin, such as acne scarring and hyperpigmentation – where some parts of the skin become darker than others. It is the first product of its kind, despite the fact the male grooming industry is worth an estimated $38bn.

“It’s always shocked me how little choice there was finding products for my hair and skin type,” said Lina Gadi, the female co-founder of Aaron Wallace, which creates hair products for men of color. “It is shocking to me that in 2021 there is still such a huge lack of representation in this space.

Boateng thinks there are bigger issues at the centre of the lack of products.

“There are issues of structural racism in the grooming industry,” he said. “There appears to be the strange belief that if you make products centering on a diverse audience that these products somehow won’t work equally well for anyone else or don’t have growth potential. “We’re expected to accept and appreciate existing mainstream products built with no thought of people like us in mind.”

For dermatologist Corey L Hartman, the issues that have prevented the grooming industry from creating properly diverse and problem-solving products are multi-layered. “There is a lack of representation at the boardroom table, in the medical schools and in the [executive levels] of cosmetic companies,” he said.

Boateng added that dermatology suffers from issues of racial bias, “since it is largely built on the understanding of white skin. Much of what we develop to treat skin disorders is a result of that,” he said.

The racial reckoning of last year which affected the fashion and beauty communities has, in a roundabout way, led to more focus on the needs of non-white skin and more discernment from within communities of color. “The black consumer is now more conscious of what they use,” said Sogo Adeleke, founder of Dapper Mane, a grooming site for men of color. “Major brands now have to cater to them or risk losing market share to smaller brands that focus specifically on colored people.”