“If you think about a brand that is designing stuff with you in mind, it’s really very empowering.”
The Bolden Company is inspiring women of color to protect and love their natural beauty.
Well-known brands across the world often miss the mark when it comes to solving issues that women of color face every day.
From hyperpigmentation to ashy sunblock, no one seems to cater to the unique properties of melanin-rich skin. In turn, we end up having to buy multiple products to receive our desired result.
Founded by Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa, Bolden works to create innovative products with premium ingredients for Black and Brown girls alike.
We sat down with the duo to discuss the importance of responsibly sourcing ingredients, their beauty routines and their plans to expand their collection.
Image via Bolden
On the Importance of Sunscreen
Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa are no strangers to the sunscreen struggle.
You know the one where no matter what you do sunscreen appears chalky or casts an unsightly pink, white or purple hue on your melanin-rich skin?
The issue is often so bad that we often skip sunscreen all together so that we can avoid looking like a ghost in our vacation pictures.
In fact, many believe that people of color do not need to use sunscreen. In 2016, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology discovered that only 37 percent of African-Americans wore sunscreen. This low percentage is alarming because it generally takes longer for signs of melanoma to show up in deeper skin tones.
Chidozie and Obidoa knew that they had to develop a sunscreen with melanated skin in mind.
“The most important thing is having a product that people can use. If you have the most [successful] product and it’s not wearable because it’s not aesthetically beautiful or it takes too much effort to wear, people are not going to wear it. So, they don’t get the benefit of the product and they don’t get the protection.” – Chinelo Chidozie
The Bolden Company’s SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer acts as both a sunscreen and as a skin treatment. Octinoxate and Avobenzone provide protection from UV rays. To treat the skin, their formulation includes the brightening properties of vitamin C and softening effects of Squalane. The best part is that this product is clear and leaves no chalky residue on your skin.
“SPF is a 3-in-1. It has SPF protection. It’s also a great moisturizer. It brightens the skin and helps with hyperpigmentation. Our goal was to have a product that you could just use. We find that there’s a lot of trial and error, you have you use several products to solve all of our problems.” -Ndidi Obidoa
On the Rise of Black-Owned Skin Care
Black-owned cosmetics are slowly becoming more accessible. Fenty Beauty is available globally in Sephora. The Doux products are available in select Target locations. And even Mielle Organics can be purchased at your local Sally’s Beauty or Target. However, many of these brands gaining traction are deriving from the hair and beauty industry.
Raising awareness for black-owned skincare brands is tough.
“It’s a challenge. I think that it’s easier to see the differentiation for hair and make-up just because if you are dealing with pigments and if it doesn’t work or if you are dealing with shades and it doesn’t work it’s very visible. The hair is also very visible. We have different types of hair and things that don’t work for specific hair is very visual.” – Chinelo Chidozie
When it comes to skincare, consumers want products to work and work fast.
“Skincare, on the other hand, is a process. It’s something that you have to invest time in and the payoff isn’t immediate. You don’t get instant gratification so it’s a harder sell. But I think that as people are embracing black-owned brands for hair and color cosmetics it’s extending to everything else.” – Chinelo Chidozie
Not to mention that skin health isn’t always visible to the naked eye.
“There’s that myth if your skin feels okay then there’s really nothing wrong and you can get away with using petroleum jelly […] on your skin and it’s not true. You don’t start to see the cracks until later. So, if you start to take care of your skin and you use products that really help with the overall wellness of your skin then […] later on you reap the benefits.” -Ndidi Obidoa
On Product Expansion
Currently, The Bolden Company has two product lines. The first is their facial line. It features a range of products including their Sulfate-Free Facial Cleanser and their Brightening Glycolic Acid Toner.
The second product range is their beloved Shea Butter Oils. This selection of products includes their signature Shea Butter Oil in three scents: mint, vanilla bean and unscented.
Despite their diverse product selection, the pair is hoping to expand the product offerings. The hope is to continue to meet the needs of women of color all around the world.
This year they are planning to launch a moisturizing face mask.
“We are working on a hydrating mask. If you think right before a party [that you] want to have that glow and a fresh look just something that dewy youthful look.”
They are even in the process of developing a product to help with underarm hyperpigmentation that many women suffer from.
On Their Beauty Routines
Chidozie and Obidoa like to keep their beauty regimen simple. For Obidoa, she likes to keep to a three-step method: cleanse, tone, moisturize.
At night, she likes to skip toning for a serum. Her secret is that she mixes Bolden’s Nighttime Repair Serum with a bit of their Unscented Shea Butter Oil to make the perfect night time moisturizer.
“I use a clay mask three times a week. I love to use it Saturday Mornings because it amuses my kids.” -Ndidi Obidoa
Chidozie is a self-proclaimed “lazy beauty person.” Her beauty routine revolves around her on-the-go, fast-paced lifestyle.
“I practice what I preach. My bathroom has all of our Bolden products in it. Not just because I make it but because it works for me. I haven’t had a breakout in forever and it’s not because of anything extraordinary.” – Chinelo Chidozie
Chidozie’s routine starts with Sulfate-Free Facial Cleanser and then she tones with Brightening Glycolic Acid Toner. After completing those two steps, she uses their SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer for the perfect glow. At night, she cleanses and then follows up with the Nighttime Repair Serum.
The beauty of Bolden Skincare is that it not only works but it’s responsibly-sourced to give you the best quality possible.
“For instance, our Shea Oil. We actually make sure that we are buying from women co-ops in Burkina Faso. So that’s really important to us. If you think of the work that goes into producing Shea Butter, Shea Oil, it is backbreaking work and we are doing our part to make sure that the women who are doing all of this work actually also see the rewards so the sourcing is very important to us. So we are going through a bigger company but it is traceable. You can trace where the batch came from, what month and what co-ops worked on it.” – Chinelo Chidozie
“When we are formulating products, we are using the best available ingredients in our products.” – Chinelo Chidozie
The American Journal of Epidemiology conducted an extensive study exploring links to product use and its health effects on women of color. The results determined that many of the products designed specifically for people of color often have higher levels of carcinogens in them.
“It seems like even in the formulations people of color are not getting the best ingredients. In our case, we pay very specific attention to the ingredients that we add and that is a big deal in our formulation.” – Chinelo Chidozie
Chidozie and Obidoa believe that despite what the majority of the industry is doing, we still deserve the best products to protect our skin and that is where Bolden fills the void in the market.
On Women Entering Cosmetic Manufacturing
In a study by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports show that less than 12 percent of the cosmetic manufacturing industry is comprised of Black Women. It’s no wonder why major companies like The Ordinary and Too Faced often end up in scandals. They do not cater to a diverse audience.
Needless to say, women of color need to be present through each and every step of the production process.
“We really think that you need diversity at every point in the value chain. […] The way it is structured now, we are more at the consuming end. We’ve seen a lot of gaps with really big brands. And it tells you that there is a lack of diversity in their marketing team when they are putting things out because they have a blind spot because you don’t know what you don’t know. But if you have a diversity in voices someone’s going to catch it and say hey this is what this looks like and this is probably not going to work for this audience” – Chinelo Chidozie
The industry is starting to listen to our wants and desires for high-quality skin care. With more people of color in the labs, the skincare and cosmetics are going to see a huge overhaul over the next few years on how to produce inclusive collections. We can finally have the products we have been asking for.
“It’s very slow in changing. We need a lot more diversity in the labs, people who are doing the formulations, we need people of color studying the sciences but I think that with more brands that are like ours that are focused on getting products that really work for people with darker skin shades. It’s changing, the focus is changing.”
On Dream Collaborations
The Bolden Team has had great success with collaborations so far. Social Media Influencers like EvelynFromTheInternets and Ronkeraji have raved about The Bolden Company. They love to keep their partnerships organic in order to promote authenticity throughout the brand.
But I think it goes without saying that they still have a few favorites that they would love to collaborate with in the future.
“Yvonne Orji and Issa Rae would be a dream. Oprah, Oprah’s magazine, Oprah’s favorite things would be amazing.”
They also would love to work with some fellow black-owned brands that are pioneering inclusivity for skincare and beauty.
“There’s also a number of brands that are really doing well. Mented Cosmetics, we think their lipsticks are lovely. The Lip Bar is one [brand] that we love. I think these are brands are uplifting and providing options in the marketplace for women of color. And I think that it’s very empowering when you are not restricted to the one brand for all of your needs.”
On Global Standards of Beauty
The importance of representation and inclusivity have been a hot topic in the news recently. There’s no doubt about it, a lot of change has been made but there’s definitely areas in the industry that still need improvement.
“For the longest time, you had gatekeepers who determined what was beautiful and it was said in the media or in magazines. If you looked through magazines and don’t see a reflection of yourself, it’s not empowering at all. So, you keep longing for what you not and for what is not even within your power to be.” – Chinelo Chidozie
The rise of content creators and social media platforms have given consumers an unprecedented influence over businesses.
“I think with the internet and social media, […] people of color are getting their voices out there and we are being included more. So, that the idea of what is beautiful isn’t determined by a certain group of people.”
On Their Goals for The Bolden Company
The Bolden Company has made great strides in the skin care industry but they know there’s still plenty more work to be done.
“Our mission at Bolden is that we really want to be the brand of choice like a one-stop shop for all of your skincare needs as a black woman. Our pledge, our promise is to continue to make products that work well for people with darker skin tones. We always try to introduce products that solve a specific problem. We don’t just want to be another product in the marketplace that’s not doing anything.” – Ndidi Obidoa
Their motivation is simple. They want to continue to place their core customers first.
“Our goal is to take the guesswork out of the shopping experience for women of color. We have a history of spending a lot of money on beauty, hair – you name it. Part of the problem is that we are searching. We are searching for what works. The more that there are brands like us, if you buy something from us, you know that it was made with you in mind. And the chances that it works for you are much, much higher. We understand that people have different types of skin but when we’re formulating one of the key goals is that it has to work for women of color.” – Chinelo Chidozie
Want more from Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa of The Bolden Company? Check out their website for exclusive blog content. And follow the company on Instagram to get the latest information on restocks and new product launches.