Photo: MELĒ / Unilever
As consumers become smarter, so too have skincare brands stepped up their game — or should I say the people behind them. In a time when going to the doctor — much less a dermatologist — is a last resort, and concerns about medical professionals’ knowledge of the needs of people of color, even when it comes to skin, continue to linger, Unilever has introduced a new skincare brand that fills in the gaps for the highly melanated in more ways than one.
MELĒ is the brainchild of Black female executives at the personal care conglomerate who believed there was a better way to give melanated skin the attention it deserves in an equitable, elevated manner. The result is a brand of five products that was co-created and endorsed by dermatologists of color, like Dr. Mona Gohara, and includes an online skin diagnostic to ensure customers purchase products that are tailored to their specific skincare needs such as dark spots, uneven skin tone, moisture imbalance, and sun damage, which the line was formulated specifically to address.
Before you pick up items from the line off of the shelf in Target, you really should begin with the skin diagnostic. The interactive survey starts by asking you to identify the shade closest to your skin tone from a spectrum of light to dark brown hues. You’re then asked a series of questions about your skin such as type, UV exposure, how it reacts to common irritants, and your primary and secondary concerns. Once the survey, which takes no more than three minutes, is complete, you receive a summary like the image above that explains your skin type. I have to say this is the first time I’ve ever seen an image of someone that actually resembled me in any type of retail space which gave me an automatic buy-in to the brand.
On the next screen, you’re shown a series of products that will address the skin concerns you noted or tell you how to keep your skin flourishing if you’re already “#blessed” like MELĒ says I am. I was recommended the DEW THE MOST Sheer Moisturizer SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen that not only protects against UV damage but also blue light, which we’re all exposed to more now thanks to all of those Zoom calls while working from home. The lightweight SPF moisturizer also promises 24-hour hydration without an ounce of white residue or that sticky texture a lot of similar products tend to have.
The PLUMP IT UP Nourishing Cream also showed up in my recommendations to ensure my skin stays balanced and doesn’t end up on the dry side. The oil-free cream not only hydrates but also gradually evens out your complexion over time. Since this product is a bit heavier and the SPF moisturizer is already on my list for the daytime, this item makes for the perfect night cream.
The third product in my suggested regimen was the EVEN Tone Post Cleanse Tonic that’s formulated with lactic acid to gently exfoliate skin and help fade and correct dark spots as well as signs of aging to make your complexion pop. Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid so it’s mild on the skin and suitable for daily use either in the morning or night after cleansing.
Other products in the line include the EVEN Dark Spot Control Serum suitable for individuals who need to treat dark spots versus prevent them. The silky serum is formulated with 3% niacinamide, hexylresorcinol, and retinyl propionate to reduce the appearance of dark spots and brighten and even skin tone. And it’s already a winner of Oprah magazine’s 2020 Beauty O-Awards.
Lastly, there’s the SMOOTH Pore Minimizing Serum designed to mattify and tighten. Tripeptides and rose hip extracts help decrease pore size and reduce excess oil in this serum, while 13% blur technology helps smooth the look of your skin’s texture.
In an industry that sees dozens of new skincare launches annually, I tip my hat to MELĒ, which has managed to separate itself from the rest. That success can no doubt be attributed to not only listening to consumers of color but partnering with skincare experts of color to provide digestible skincare education and a science-led collection that doesn’t just claim to be usable on Black and brown skin but truly enhances it.