Epara is the UK’s first luxury skincare line catering to the specific yet underserved needs of women of colour. We meet its founder, Ozohu Adoh
Mintel reports that the women’s UK skincare market is worth £1 billion, with just over half of that in the premium sector. Today you’ll find high-end lotions and potions catering to every conceivable condition and complexion, yet ethnic beauty is still considered niche. This leaves the UK’s black and minority population, which has doubled in the past 10 years, woefully underserved. Until now, that is. Epara is a new – and perhaps the first – truly luxury skincare brand for women of colour.
Launched this spring in Harrods, the face and body collection has been formulated from natural and organic African ingredients to cater to the specific needs of darker skin tones. ‘It’s a myth that black skin is so resilient,’ says Epara founder Ozohu Adoh. ‘Black women don’t have to worry so much about ageing – my mother is over 60 and doesn’t have a single wrinkle – but we do have to think about hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, dryness and overactive sebaceous glands. It’s also important to protect your skin from the everyday damage caused by both free radicals and air pollution.’
Born in the north of Nigeria, Adoh attained her MBA at Oxford University and was a strategy advisor in the oil and gas industries until her innate passion for skincare, and her personal skincare issues, put her on a new path. For years she suffered from a severe skin sensitivity that no dermatologist could diagnose. She tried everything to cure it, from steroid creams to expensive cosmetics, but to no avail. ‘Eventually I realised that there were no products out there that catered to me, so I decided to make my own,’ she recalls.
Adoh started off with simple ingredients familiar to her childhood, such as coconut oil, shea butter, aloe vera and moringa oil. She went on to research other plant extracts and soon hit on face and body creams that worked wonders. Within a few weeks, the irritability had gone and her face was clear. Before long, friends and family were asking for samples. ‘I found that pure ingredients coming out of Africa cured my skin,’ she says. ‘That told me that what nature has provided within the African continent is suited to women of colour.’
She went on to create Epara, which means ‘to cocoon’ in her native Ebira dialect, with a UK laboratory. By incorporating holistic essential oils such as neroli, ylang ylang and frankincense and active botanicals including plankton extract and liquorice root, each product is now packed with healing, soothing and antioxidant properties. The final range, including Comforting Body Cream (£120), Intense Hydrating Mask (£105), Brightening Night Balm (£100) and Balancing Face Oil (£105), is free from synthetics, mineral oils and harsh chemicals, fights imperfections and pampers from head to toe. ‘Before clothes, jewellery, shoes or make-up, it’s your skin that must first be elegant,’ says Adoh. ‘When women of colour use Epara, I want them to look and feel amazing because they know they’ve chosen a brand that is bespoke to them.’