One where makeup collections go beyond 20 foundation colours (credit to Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line which shook things up in 2017). Brands are challenging Eurocentric beauty standards and advertising is finally starting to reflect skin that looks like real skin.
But that’s not to say we’ve reached the final destination for inclusivity and representation in the industry. As the model, entrepreneur and founder of Swedish skincare brand Melyon, Roger Dupé, reminds us, there are still ways to go, especially for darker skin tones that react to trauma, treatments and ingredients differently.
When Roger launched Melyon, he was influenced by two key things: his family and his experience working in the modelling industry. “My mum would always ask me to buy her skincare and beauty products when I was abroad, and one day I asked her, ‘why can’t you just buy them in Sweden?’ And she told me there was nothing suitable for her [melanin-rich] skin. At first I was shocked, and then I started to dig into that,” Roger says.
During his modelling career, Roger quickly became aware of the industry’s lack of representation, racial inequalities and narrow beauty standards. “I thought fashion was supposed to be a major industry setting the trends and reflecting the society we’re living in … [But it didn’t] really match that [ideal] for me. I could see a lack of inclusivity and diversity when it came to different shows and advertising campaigns,” he says. One of the reasons he launched Melyon was to change the narrative and the way we see beauty, whether in the skincare or fashion industry.
The brand name comes from the English word “melanin”, and the Togolese/Ghanaian expression “enyonam”, meaning “it is good for me”. Since he was a young boy, Roger was taught that looking after yourself is a form of self-care: “Your body’s your temple and I think it’s important to take care of yourself [whether that’s using] a day cream or going to a yoga class.”
Obviously, Roger is of the opinion that good skincare practices are an important part of looking after yourself, which is why he designed Melyon’s products to be unisex. “You often have two kinds of beauty lines, ones that are super girly and ones that are super masculine. Why can’t we just have [products] that are really nice for everyone?” he says. Creating products that are universal and inclusive informed the brand’s aesthetic too: the sleek glass bottles have an androgynous feel, reflecting the fact they are for all individuals, regardless of gender.
Melyon’s range heroes four main products: a cleanser, serum, day cream and night cream – all of which are vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free. “You don’t need 10 different products to have nice skin; by using the bare minimum you will see a huge difference,” Roger says. Particularly when all products feature a key ingredient known to have excellent skincare benefits: baobab oil.
The nutrient-rich baobab oil pays homage to Roger’s roots in Ghana and Togo. “It’s part of my narrative. I want to bring back ingredients that align with my storytelling,” he says. Not only does the ingredient have a rich history, but when travelling to Africa he also found out it has incredible properties helping calm irritation, combat fine lines and wrinkles, and reduce dryness.
Roger’s favourite product in the collection is the detox serum which visibly firms and plumps the skin. While you can use it by itself, it also boosts the effect of the Melyon day or night cream. “For me [the serum] is essential because it gives you a glow that isn’t greasy.” The baobab oil plays a role in the serum’s performance, but the main active ingredients are hyaluronic acid and broccoli extract.
In a market as saturated as beauty, Roger wants to sell products that have a “higher purpose” and a genuine need. And, hopefully in the process, make more people feel included and seen. “We’re trying to lift up a minority – which is actually a majority in the world – that has been neglected in the beauty market.”