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Q&A with: Dija Ayodele

GIFTED: Dija Ayodele has created a ‘go-to’ resource for black women and their skin

MEET DIJA Ayodele, a qualified aesthetician with more than 10 years’ experience in the skincare industry. She has recently launched the Black Skin Directory – a game changer for the future of black skin health.

Life & Style caught up with the skin expert to find out what exciting things are on the horizon.

Life and Style: Tell us where your skincare journey began?
Dija Ayodele: I can’t remember a time I wasn’t into skincare and grooming, but my mother used to go to the beauty and hair sa- lon every Saturday, so grooming has always been a part of my life.

By the time I was eight years old I was already giving manicures and pedicures to my dad.

I guess I truly put my skincare hat on when I studied to be a make-up artist about 12 years ago and realised I was more interested in the quality of the canvas (skin) and the person I was working with than the actual make-up itself.

L&S: Have you always worked in the beauty industry?
DA: Like many people, I left university and got a job, working in HR for Goldman Sachs and MG Investments in the City.

I didn’t last long – I wasn’t cut out for it.

I went on to do formal training at London College of Beauty Therapy to learn the basics while working at award-winning hairdressers, The Chapel, as a make-up artist and nail technician.

I’ve also undertaken more advanced courses with training providers like Sally Durant, alongside products houses like NeoStrata, Exuviance and Skin-Ceuticals (left).

L&S: What made you decide to turn this into a career?
DA: The enjoyment I experience in transforming a client’s skin for them is unrivalled, so I figure it makes sense to transform something that brings me so much joy into a viable career option.

L&S: What are your favourite skincare products and trusted brands?
DA: Personally, I prefer cosme- ceutical brands that have a high degree of quality actives in their products that are beneficial to the concerns that women of col- our tend to experience.

Brands like Neostrata, SkinCeuticals, bea Skin Care and Medik8 all have ingredients and technology such as tyrosinase inhibitors and vitamin A which tackle hyperpigmentation, AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) like glycolic and lactic acid to encourage cell turnover, antioxidants and skin brighteners such as vitamin C, and apple stem and liquorice extracts.

L&S: Did you always know you wanted to concentrate specifically on black skin?
DA: No, I didn’t. I started off as a generalist. You don’t get taught much about the differences in skin colour/structure at beauty school. If you’re interested then you’ll challenge yourself to learn more, which is what I did.

In doing so I realised that black women aren’t catered for fully as the industry is skewed towards Caucasian skin tones – from clinical research right through to imagery.

However, this is chang- ing, and there are individuals, brands and publications driving this positive change.

It’s amazing when I talk to clients and they feel confident and at peace that they are seeing a practitioner who understands the subtle complexities of their skin tones.

L&S: There are a lot of treatments on the market, but not all are suitable for black skin, so what advice would you give to someone looking to improve their skin safely?
DA: The best thing you can do is to avoid self-diagnosis by consulting ‘Dr Google’.

Invest time and a small amount of money in a professional skin consultation with a professional who is experienced in looking at black and darker skin tones.

That professional will be able to guide you on the products you use, what possible treatments you could have, routines and regimes to follow tailored to your own skin.

L&S: What is the Black Skin Directory?
DA: It is a platform that exists to service people of colour and their skincare needs, whether it be from finding practitioners who are qualified and experienced in treating darker skin tones, to educational articles of the unique physiology of darker skin and skincare as a whole, to events nationwide enabling the public first hand introductions to some of the UK’s leading skincare professionals and brands.

L&S: What can we expect from the Black Skin Directory, and how do you see it helping our community?
DA: BSD aims to be the go-to resource for black women in better understanding their skin on all levels.

As they say, knowledge is power, and we want to enable our community with the resources to make the best choices in how and where they invest in their skincare.

L&S: What would you say was your biggest achievement thus far?
DA: Taking BSD from concept on a scrap notebook to operational in under a year has been a fantastic achievement.

It is not one I’ve powered on my own as I have a fantastic supportive team of ‘can- do’ people, but I’ve generally steered the ship and I am super proud of BSD being the first in its kind serving predominantly British women of colour and their skin care needs.

To find out more about Ayodele’s work, visit her website at dijaayodele.squarespace.com or the Black Skin Directory’s website at blackskindirectory.com.

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