WE DELIVER NATIONWIDE
September 25, 2018
Krème Chats with expert Dija Ayodele. Aesthetician and founder of the black skin directory UK.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Dija Ayodele who is an aesthetician based in the UK, with over 10 years experience in the beauty industry and founder of the black skin directory; a groundbreaking platform connecting women of colour to qualified skincare professionals. Thank you Dija, for educating and empowering women of color in the beauty industry and beyond.
Why did you ultimately decide to become an esthetician?
As a little girl, I was always around beauty/grooming. I remembered going to the salons with my mum. I would watch her get her hair and nails done. It was always around me, but being from African decent, it was never seen as a profession. We were expected to go to University and pursue a job as a lawyer, banker, etc. So, when I finished University, I went into Investment banking. But as soon as the financial crisis happened, I knew it was a sign from God that I was not supposed to be in the financial industry.
I had taken some courses over the years, so the first thing I did was go over to New York and did makeup at the New York fashion week. So, I actually started in the industry doing makeup. I worked with some makeup artist in London for a couple years, but I was always interested in skincare. For me the goal with makeup was to make the skin look as natural as possible.
After a little while I started doing nails for photoshoots, and I would combine the two (makeup and nails). Eventually, I did some studying in actual skincare, and I have loved it ever since.
What is your experience as a person of color in the industry (United Kingdom)?
Well the industry is very white (laughs) There are so many times I am the only black girl in the room (laughs) It’s a complicated issue. For example, when we look at product imagery or consumer imagery there is no diversity, and that’s why I started the project called the black skincare directory.
The industry is very white, but it is open to anyone who is driven, motivated, passionate and wants to learn. I have had amazing opportunities because I have spoken up, so it is predominately white but not closed. I believe it is like anything in life; you have to make those steps. Nobody is going to give it to you on a plate, you have to work hard for it.
The beauty industry here, specifically makeup, there is a long-standing issue because the products they offer (and the imagery) are marketed with white women. I am usually the girl in the room that says “where are your black images?” (laughs). I have come to find out that some of these brands do have black imagery, but they feel like black women are not interested. I tell them we are interested, so provide the imagery.
From my experience of writing for publication, I know that the consumer who does not see these images automatically believes they do not exist. So, in summary, its beige but its open.
What inspired the black skincare directory?
Black skincare directory came about because black skin is not represented, therefore it doesn’t translate to the consumer. Black skin directory is the connecting point between practitioners and black women. On this platform we can upload doctors and practioners who are capable and understand the uniqueness of treating black skin.
In my research, I have discovered a huge desire from women if color to lighten their skin, what is your perspective on that movement?
Whenever a client comes to me, I always try to make the distinction by asking two questions.
The first question is, do you want to even out your skin tone? I understand this, because black women suffer from hyperpigmentation easily
The second question is, are you trying to be a lighter skin person? If this is the case then I let them know I do not endorse skin bleaching, therefore I cannot support you on that journey. However, if I see that the client has uneven skin tone then I can support you on your journey.
The phenomenon is alive and well. There are people who genuinely believe that if they are lighter, they will get more/better opportunities in life. As a practioner, If I have a client that comes in with body dysmorphia, I have the responsibility to counsel them and it is up to me to decide to treat them or not. I take it very seriously, and I do not endorse it in any way at all.
What would you like to see change in the industry over the course of the next few years?
In the next few years, I would love for the brands to pull in more people of color to their table, provide more education and diverse imagery that caters to needs of women of color.
So, what would your advice be to young estheticians currently in school?
Focus on learning, and focus on continuous learning after school. While you are learning, network in your industry. And finally, make yourself indispensable.
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