As the skin-care industry continues to grow and efforts to diversify the realm increase, a notable divide still remains: Black dermatologists make up 5.8% of the overall practice, and Hispanic dermatologists make up 7%. Because of this, many patients of color aren’t getting the tailored treatment they need to take care of their skin. Take, for example, Kendra Joseph, a physician’s assistant at Schweiger Dermatology, who at one time had a common skin condition that went undiagnosed because dermatologists weren’t factoring in “how it looked on darker skin tones,” she says. For many patients of color, there’s also a lack of access to affordable spaces where they can address their skin concerns. Helping to bridge this gap is Skin Folks, a new New York City–based event series founded by beauty writer and esthetician Simedar Jackson to stoke the conversation around skin care for people of color.
At the inaugural Skin Folks event held at Bed-Stuy cafe and boutique Sincerely Tommy (entry was free or donation-based), a panel was held featuring skin-care experts including Joseph, esthetician Sean Garette, founder of Beauty Strike, Emani-Mone Jeter, and Skin Wins studio founder Lily Njoroge. During the conversation, panelists answered questions about skin care while discussing their own experiences navigating the skin-care industry. “My eczema was overlooked for so long,” explained Njoroge when asked how she got her start in the business. “It made me want to help others that look like me.” And it’s with the same mission—to help the industry evolve and transform—that Jackson brought Skin Folks to fruition earlier this year.
“Many people who want and need information about skin care often don’t get proper access to it,” said 25-year-old Chicago-born-and-raised Jackson of getting her start. “I want to bring skin health education to minority communities…to the ones who don’t normally see themselves in beauty campaigns.” Jackson has always been a skin-care enthusiast, but with a journalism degree from Northwestern, entering the industry professionally wasn’t always her plan. However, after college, Jackson found herself eager to further her education and authority on skin care so that she could help bring about change. “Today, not enough brands are helping dismantle the myths surrounding what can and can’t be used on deeper skin tone,” explained Jackson. “Many of us still believe we don’t need to be using sunscreen, but we do!” Creating a more accessible skin-care community for people of color, Jackson hopes to spur change within the industry.
“The vision behind this whole idea is so important to me because your face is one of the first things that people see,” said Taylor K. Shaw, founder and CEO of Black Women Animate, during the Skin Folks gathering. “It’s nice to see someone trying to help underserved communities learn more about taking care of their face and their skin, and how it is such an important part of our overall wellbeing, and not just about beauty.” At the end of the panel, each attendee walked away with a Skin Folks tote bag filled with curated products including Paula’s Choice’s Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid, Sanitas Vita C Serum, and a Gua Sha facial tool, as well as samples from dermatologist-favorite brands CeraVe, Eucerin, and Aveeno. With the next Skin Folks event slated for February 2020, Jackson hopes to bring in an even bigger crowd. “Skin care is for everyone,” she said. “There’s a need for these spaces right now...and I’m ready to fill it.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue