Beauty Queen: Zimbabwe native Sipho Gumbo created a skin care line specifically for women of color. It came as a revelation to the author (inset). Jill Broussard

Beauty

How Yangu Beauty Changed the Way I Look at Skincare

As a woman of color, I was ignoring the most important factor in my skin care: my color.

Choosing the best products for your skin can involve just as much fruitless strategy and frustration as The Price Is Right Plinko game. Picking a face cream feels no different than dropping your coin into the honeycomblike grid, hoping it lands in the best place as you helplessly watch it ricochet down to the bottom of the board. That’s why coming across the Yangu Beauty line, by Southlake-based Zimbabwe native Sipho Gumbo, boggled my mind.

A month after I started using her products, my skin was so clear that someone asked me—me—if I was vegan. As a point of reference, I recently had to request that my friends stop giving me pork-based gifts. Although I’m not vegan, Yangu Beauty’s full line is. It doesn’t use animal-derived products, bleaches, sulfates, artificial colors, or other cruddy chemicals.

What goes in your skin care matters. And the whole oily-normal-dry-combination assessment is important in choosing a line, too. But if I were a betting woman, I’d wager a million dollars that you couldn’t guess one of the biggest considerations a woman of color should hold when choosing skin care. It is, in fact, her color.

Now, if you’re taken aback, bear with me. Focusing on color isn’t just about the color; it’s more so about the implications that come with it—pore size, moisture needs, sun exposure, the list goes on. So the premise of a skin care line developed for women of color makes sense. We know that kinky, curly tresses require totally different care. It’s also why makeup lines that boast inclusion and the ability to find any shade, like Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, are such a hit. Not many moons ago, black women were just hoping and wishing for a shade that matched their skin when getting makeup done professionally—even as models.

The combination of unique needs and a lack of suitable product offerings within the market are exactly why Gumbo created Yangu Beauty (meaning “my beauty” in Bantu and Swahili). That, and she realized running a profitable business could help employ women in rural Zimbabwe and answer a fundraising problem for Munhu, a nonprofit that supports children orphaned by AIDS. Can we say “boss”?

Gumbo began to seek out products that offered solutions for her sensitive skin, but what she found was either too harsh or didn’t work. So she turned to ancient recipe blends that had been handed down from her grandmother and looked to ingredients, like nourishing oil extracts, that she used as a girl.

The award-winning Yangu Beauty line is the result of a collaboration between Gumbo and a chemist with more than 30 years of experience. Gumbo tried each prototype until it passed her tingle test. “A lot of women don’t know that you should not experience a tingling sensation when washing your face,” Gumbo says.

Scientifically, the difficulties for women of color come down to hyperpigmentation as a result of excess melanin, sensitivity of the skin due to larger pore size, and scar tissue that develops as acne heals. Yangu Beauty offers gentle solutions to all three.

Shortly after Gumbo told me about the inspiration of her childhood remedies, I had to ask a real nail-biter. “One of the only consistent beauty tips I’ve observed within the black community is moisturizing. I grew up with plenty of cocoa butter and Vaseline.” Knowing where I was headed, she laughed as I drew in a breath of air and spit out, “Is cocoa butter actually that good?” Ladies and gents, I’ll have you know that cocoa butter and Vaseline are not brown beauty myths waiting to be debunked. She did, however, caution that neither of those products last a full 24 hours, nor do they help with blemishes. But guess what will? Her soon-to-be-released body butter.

I’ll happily test it out.   

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