It's rare that a brand-new skincare line is available at Nordstrom right out the gate. It's rarer yet if the line is devoted to the care of skin conditions that are seen by the industry as trickier to treat — such as eczema or hyperpigmentation. Yet, the 23-year-old founders of the new skincare brand Topicals, Olamide Olowe and Claudia Teng, managed both for their Aug. 7 launch. Not only are the two launch products, a gel serum and moisturizing mask, available at select Pop-In@Nordstrom locations as well as online at Nordstrom.com, but the brand looks extremely cute all the while.
But a meeting of the minds came first. Olowe tells TZR over email that Teng and her met via a mutual friend, since both had a recognizable "passion" for skin care and destigmatizing "the treatment of skin conditions"; Teng has eczema and Olowe has severe folliculitis barbae, often commonly referred to as razor bumps or ingrown hairs.
"We grew up aspiring to have this 'perfect skin' because that’s what the beauty industry advertised to us at such a young age," Teng adds. "As women of color with skin conditions, we were using products that didn’t represent us and weren’t formulated for us. That’s why we wanted to create a brand that takes the focus off of 'clear skin.'"
This is clear in Topicals' marketing, such as its product description for the Faded Brightening & Clearing Gel ($36), a go-to for "for spottie hotties." (Conversely, the $32 Like Butter Hydrating Mask is "for itchy gurls.") Teng explains that the duo wanted to embrace "the very real ups and downs" of skin, including conditions that aren't often treated with Millennial-pink tubes and retro lettering. "Rather than having to use clinical or medicinal products that you feel you have to hide under your bathroom sink, we create cute products to put in your bathroom or throw in your bag that both work and make your flare-ups more fun," she says.
Creating cruelty-free products that speak to this demographic is a smart business move, as well, seeing as Topicals realized early on how prevalent these conditions really are. "We started beta testing back in August of 2019 and discovered that most people in our community had multiple skin conditions — many of which were not being addressed by the beauty industry," says Olowe. "Eczema was one of the most common skin conditions among our beta testers with hyperpigmentation coming in second. The majority of our community said they experienced both, which informed our launch products."
At the moment, the Faded gel and Like Butter mask are out of stock — but both will return on Topicals' website by the end of August. For now, read more about the duo by following the links below.
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