Meet Byrdie Boy and The Method Male creator Saleam T. Singleton. Ahead, he interviews Ceylon founder Patrick Boateng.
We’ve finally come to a place where men have numerous options for skincare. These days, there’s a men’s section on just about every major retail beauty site. However, it can’t be said that the needs and identities of all male consumers have been reflected in the marketplace. This is being changed with the emergence of brands created by and for men of color and Black men. While these brands and products aren’t exclusive to one group, they do address specific skin concerns shared by men with darker skin tones, such as hyperpigmentation, or ingrown hairs that cause bumps and irritation (more common among men with coily hair textures). The gap in representation has created a space for communities to grow around these brands. This makes them even more necessary.
One such brand is Ceylon Skincare. Started in 2017, Ceylon was developed for men of color by founder Patrick Boateng. Originally conceived while Boateng was living in mainland China, the flagship collection includes a three-piece skincare kit with the goal of making skincare accessible and easy-to-use for men of color. Ceylon has since gone on to gain a cult following of supporters that value more than just skincare. I had a chance to sit down and talk with Patrick via video chat. We discussed his inspiration for creating a brand, the needs of melanated skin, and the growing Ceyon community. (I may have even gotten him to spill on the products he might be launching next.)
On how he got into skincare as a young adult
“I was very lucky early on. In my late teen years, I didn’t really suffer from acne. I used the occasional face wash, that Biore bursting cleanser, and didn't use a regular moisturizer. I was just using stuff on and off during my college and grad school years. Then, when I was an adult, I think the stark difference in the quality [of my skin] is what had me focus on a mindset of, ‘Okay, there’s something really wrong here.’”
On how living in China inspired him to create his own products
“Some of the challenges of living in mainland China are the air and water pollution, and what that does to your skin. The difference is noticeable, epecially if you’re living there and travel somewhere else. I also purchased a lot of products that didn’t work. I remember purchasing an exfoliator from a specific store during a trip to Hong Kong. My face was an absolute disaster. That was a typical experience for me.”
On how he discovered what was missing
“What I learned was that ‘more’ doesn’t actually mean better results. I think the instinct to do less is good—but the overall idea is that less can be more. There seems to be a belief that pigmented skin can withstand high-intensity treatments. It might stem from the idea of ‘black don’t crack’. This only exacerbates a lot of the skin issues we may have. These are things in my journey that I had to learn the hard way. I wondered how I’d find a middle ground—where we’re doing [just] enough to attack those key issues that affect pigmented skin.”
On the skincare and health needs of men of color
“Men of color disproportionately suffer from hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, razor bumps, and eczema. We have to deal with issues around inflammation and skin protection. Men of color are more sensitive to irritation through skin bleaching ingredients often found in skincare products. There are a lot of skincare products on the market that don't actually work well with pigmented skin.
As people of color, we have numerous health challenges. It can be dietary, hereditary, or even environmental. We’re more likely to live in communities where we’re more exposed to environmental hazards. When we talk about hyperpigmentation or razor bumps...these are all symptoms. If we’re thinking about the underlying issues that are affecting us, I think dietary issues are at hand. It’s either the choices we’re presented with or that we’re able to make. It’s also the things that we don’t know.”
On how Ceylon addresses these needs
“Ceylon has a collaboration with Dr. Lynn McKinkey-Grant, and our products are scientifically formulated. Ceylon is a skin system specifically aimed at alleviating the prevalent problems that men of color face. Ceylon's formulations are calming from irritation, cleansing, and balancing. They have good astringents that help the skin heal properly. Our formulas provide barrier protection, and encourage improved skin turnover.”
On Ceylon’s 3-step routine
“Ceylon is for men like me who want their routine to be simple and effective. The products were formulated to use together for maximum efficacy, but also work really well by themselves. Our cleanser is formulated to be non-drying and great for sensitive skin. Our toner’s overall moisturizing and astringent properties have been improved. Lastly, our moisturizer has exfoliating and skin barrier protection properties. You will see improved skin tone and texture through consistent use.”
On the inclusion of Black men in the beauty industry media
“One of the reasons I started the brand is because it felt like there weren’t enough voices that represented us. This is specifically with skincare. We want to be able to elevate the conversation for men like us. How do we get to a space where Black men are the protagonists, especially in an industry that has either ignored us or found ways to profit off of us? We want to elevate these voices in the community that have something to say in this industry. It’s important for us to share our platform. We’re focusing on our community, nothing else.”
On Ceylon’s newly launched digital magazine
“This Ain’t Soap is a platform for storytelling, aimed at expanding the concept of living well, with skincare and grooming as its entry point. We’re using the magazine to elevate the voices of our community and introduce underrepresented perspectives to the world. As Black men and men of color, we don't often get to be the ones that tell our own stories and we want to provide a space to do that. It's also an opportunity for us to be creative and create dialogue within our community.”
On the products he’d love to launch next
“There are some categories that we obviously want to get into. However, we want to take our time to develop. People always talk to us about sunscreen. That’s definitely something that is in the works. We want to do it right. There’s going to be a long cycle of testing. We’ve also been testing a few formulas to address razor bumps. They’re so important to get right. We’re always looking out for what might be the next thing.”
On speaking truth into existence
“A good self-talk is ‘you can survive anything’. As long as you repeat that to yourself over and over. We’ve been through a lot, we’re going to keep growing, surviving, and thriving. Remind yourself of that.”