When we think of melanin-rich skincare, we often assume the only goal is to get rid of hyperpigmentation. Natacha Paugam, founder of USTAWI, wanted to take things a step further by sourcing ingredients directly from the motherland, while still centering women of color's main concern of uneven skin tone
That's why she created USTAWI, which means "wellbeing" Swahili.
Born in the Congo's Pointe-Noire to Angolan parents, Paugam's family lived as refugees after her parents fled their native country during the civil war. But regardless of the circumstances, the founder still did exceptionally well in school and began participating in beauty pageants as a teenager, which led to her eventually being crowned Miss Congo. Shortly after, she moved to Paris to pursue modeling.
That's when she recognized the gaps in skincare for Black women that not even high-priced items could solve.
When she returned to Africa, her mother Marie introduced her to ancestral skincare regimens, using natural and locally-sourced ingredients like African super fruit baobab, which is filled with skin-loving antioxidants and vitamin C. And that's how her own baobab-rich line was born.
"We believe in the power of nature and clean beauty, combined with the potential of science as we go through a lot of scientific testing," Paugam tells InStyle.
And trusted dermatologists agree, adding that while the clean market is becoming saturated in the U.S., this line in particular adds something new to the mix.
"I think there are two factors that differentiate USTAWI from other clean beauty lines," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Elyse Love explains. "USTAWI's natural ingredients are sourced from Africa and brought to France for formulation. This combines African knowledge of ingredient sourcing with advanced French skincare formulation science. In addition, each product undergoes clinical testing. And although these products may work for everyone, USTAWI product formulation is centered around the concerns of those with melanin-rich skin."
The line is launching with three key products: the Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum, the Bamboo Water Protective Mist, and the Niacinamide Dark Spot Corrector, all of which will be available for pre-sale in early July.
Together, this system works to even out skin tone, and prevent hyperpigmentation from occurring in the first place.
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While most beauty enthusiasts are familiar with the pros of using ingredients like niacinamide and vitamin C to treat dark spots that are already present, the Bamboo Water Protective Mist offers something new when it comes to managing even skin tone.
"The protection mist is designed to form a light-weight barrier between the skin and the outside world, particularly pollution," explains Dr. Love. "Pollution is irritating to the skin and has been found to worsen hyperpigmentation of the skin."
If you're dying to learn more about the line and pre-order from this new collection of products, visit USTAWI's website.
From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space.
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