My life as a refugee, women of color and racism in the beauty industry

by Nicole Mandallaz black girl sunscreen, miami peel, progress in beauty, qskinscience, racism in beauty industry, women of color, women of colour

Hi, and welcome to our new blog section!!! 

  Between Covid-19, its subsequent quarantine, and the George Floyd protests creating a historic multicultural movement a lot has happened to the world and especially our country!  I intentionally stayed quiet on my Instagram in order to amplify melanated voices, and  I also didn't want to be or come off as an internet virtue signaler. I want to be sure that all my words and statements are completely sincere and given with the utmost integrity, and focus myself on what my place is in this world and with my business to support racial equality for POC in my real life.

My Experience

  In my life I've never intentionally been racist, but i also understand that I have a different perspective as a very white looking person, so perhaps there have been times where i could have unknowingly said or acted UNintentionally racist or even "color blind".  With that said, I'm trying to reflect on that and correct any of those possible ways, and want to always do my part to collectively improve our world.

  Despite my blonde hair and blue eyes, I am actually a minority and have the unique experience of being raised by immigrant refugees of a regime that held us back, beat us, and murdered us for our perceived race and religion.  Upon leaving the Soviet Union, under "nationality" on my parents visa's it said "jewish".  They werent even considered citizens.  So naturally it was heartbreaking to learn that the very same country that rescued us and provided us with refuge and the chance to develop a livelihood is also the same country built on the backs of generations of slavery, genocide and segregation.  And if we want to continue to enjoy living in this nation that's amazing in so many ways, we have to also deal with the consequences of its societal problems left over from its bloody history, and acknowledge that many of our benefits and comforts we were able to achieve were also because we are considered white here. I grewup in various school environments in San Diego, and always felt more comfortable and accepted around minority groups in school and summer camp perhaps because i felt less judged for my differences.  But as a child and teenager I had no understanding that my darker skinned friends probably had a much different experience of America than I did, so no matter how "connected" to them I may have felt, i now realize it just wasn't the same and my light skin brought me privileges non existent to them.

The NOW

This brings us to NOW, and my role in the skin and beauty industry.  Like many modern industries, the beauty industry has a long standing shadow of racism for women of color.  From most makeup companies not offering dark enough shades of makeup for non white women, to beauty schools not training techniques in ethnic hair, down to the lack of education in the treatment of skin with more melanin, we've seen it all...  I WAS however really blessed in many ways by seeing this on my path to now, and hope to continue to grow my business and start new ones that are inclusive, educated and accepting. 

Women of Color in Beauty

   Women of color know beauty.  Black women know beauty.  According to a recent 2019 article in Essence, black women are responsible for spending $1.2 TRILLION each year in beauty, yet the general market never seemed to cater to them or give a crap until now with the George Floyd protests when they can post on their social media's about how much that they "care and support" and "stand in solidarity" with black Americans yet are scrambling to change their practices in real life to try and back  up their claims because consumers know the truth and are calling them out despite all the virtue signaling

women of color in skincare.

  Meta Skincare is just a tiny organism living on an ant in the universe of beauty companies today, but one thing I always wanted to be sure of was that I understood makeup and skin treatments of higher "skin fitzpatricks" (the dermatological and esthetic term for skin tones.  I was a national trainer for 8 years for the Miami Peel, the first chemical peel designed to treat hyperpigmentation, acne and aging in darker skin tones developed by a group of exceptional dermatologists at the University of Miami.  Before that, chemical peels were harsh in order to get results, and risked causing scarring (post inflammatory pigmentation), or damaging melanin cells creating white spots (hypopigmentation).  After Miami peel came out, other brands started to make claims their peels were safe for darker skin but in practice, it seemed few and far between. Miami Peel's company Qskinscience.com also was one of the only companies for many years that made a tinted BB creams dark enough to match darker complexions, and still are selling very well in Nigeria and India.  Besides my experience with Qskinscience and Miami peel, I just wanted to be sure that i would be ready to take on skin conditions for any skin type and tone.  When I first opened Meta, I decided to only carry makeup, and tinted spf that comes in a FULL range of tones to suit darker skin types, and in developing Meta Skincare that I have products and regimens available to address the needs of most of the skin issues i deal with as an esthetician, including specific considerations of darker complexions.

Bigger Brands are Trying to be More Inclusive

  As the public Sephora and Ulta sold brands are scrambling to catch up to be more inclusive beyond Rihanna's Fenty, in the PROFESSIONAL esthetic skincare industry, we have fortunately seen a rise in the last 10 years of brands created by black estheticians that give training on treatment and products for professional esthetic services for higher skin fitzpatricks and have been changing our industry amazing ways, and are continuing to set examples and lead estheticians to a more inclusive way of practice.  We may have a ways to go still, but improvements are happening!  Id like to list some of these industry changers below!  

Global Skin Solutions-Multi Ethnic Professional Skincare was one of the first professional esthetic brands developed by a black esthetician with skincare, peels  and professional education specifically for working with darker skin tones.  www.globalskin-solutions.com  She has been a leader in our industry and is an amazing educator.

Black Girl Sunscreen- ultra sheer sunscreen available at major retailers like Target, that was created by a black esthetician!  Finally a sunscreen for adults and kids that wont leave a white/gray cast, is affordable and easy to find!   www.blackgirlsunscreen.com

Smooth Skin Supply is a wax and esthetic supply company owned by Stephanie Laynes.  Her company is known for her Se-Brazil wax, post hair removal products and her post graduate esthetic education on hair removal and treating people with eczema.  Shes been in the game waay longer than I have, and it's been pretty cool to watch her grow and become well known in our industry.  www.ssmoothskinsupply.com

In Conclusion: The Future

I know we still have a ways to go when talking about equality, and i'll now shut my mouth (so hard lol), and continue listening to the POC in my life and those not in my life whos articles and books i read and admire.  I will continue to take my time to learn how to be a better ally, and try to be as understanding and knowledgable as possible.  Yet, I'm still very proud to be part of a changing professional aesthetics industry where women of color have already been creating strides helping to shape the future, and I can't wait to see how we will collectively develop into a better, more inclusive industry for professional esthetics and in the general consumer beauty industry as well.

Nicole Mandallaz
Esthetician, acne and aging expert, ingredients nerd, information junkie.
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