We’ve always known that beauty brands can be powerful agents of change, but it has never been more evident than in 2020. When brands use their platform purposefully, they can bring greater light to important causes and spark necessary conversations. One beauty brand that has intentionally used their products to spur social change is lip balm company SkinIsSkin. Founded by Magatte Wade in 2017, the brand seeks to end discrimination and help people overcome their unconscious biases. A lip balm meant to end discrimination might sound, well, just a little far-fetched, but SkinIsSkin is backed by science. We recently had the chance to chat with Wade and during our conversation, she further unpacked the ethos of SkinIsSkin. Keep scrolling to learn more about the inspiring mission-driven brand—from how they’re helping empower women in Senegal to how they'll help change the world for good.
Wade is a seasoned entrepreneur who previously worked in Silicon Valley, recruiting for finance roles at companies like Google and Netflix. But after no longer being able to reconcile the life of abundance she was living in America with the life of scarcity she left back home in Africa, Wade left her position and committed herself to empowering and uplifting Black people globally through her entrepreneurial endeavors. Prior to launching the lip balm brand, she founded Adina, a healthy beverage line made with secret ingredients from her home country of Senegal. She then went on to start a skincare brand called Tiossan (which she tells us will be relaunching soon).
Her third and latest entrepreneurial venture, SkinIsSkin, is a response to the anger and pain Wade felt in 2016 following the deaths of numerous Black people by police violence, like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. For Wade, these events further illuminated the issues of discrimination and bias in our society. “I didn't know yet what it would be, but that's the moment when I could point exactly to you when I decided I would devote the next years of my life to discrimination,” she says.
Ending discrimination and bias is the guiding principle in everything SkinIsSkin does. “If you've got a brain, you've got biases,” Wade points out. Through its products and platform, SkinIsSkin seeks to encourage people to shed their biases.
“We decided to be a brand so we can have an impact on culture and other brands,” she says. “We're trying to build a space in which it is okay to say ‘You know what, I'm so and so and I’ve got biases’ And here, no one's gonna make fun of you. No one will ostracize you, and you're not gonna lose your job because of this or that. We are making it okay for us to be able to say, ‘Yes, I've got a brain. I’ve got biases, and it is time to transcend.’ So, the messaging we have everywhere is just about building that acceptance.”
Wade worked closely with behavioral scientists to understand the science of bias and provide people with the tools to actively work through their biases. The brand collaborated with scientists Dr. Patricia Devine and William Cox, who have over 10 years of expertise on unconscious bias, at the University of Wisconsin at Madison to create the No More Stereotypes Practice. The five-part exercise is designed to raise awareness of stereotypes, undo the habit of unintentional bias, and improve how we all connect.
“Many companies go looking for a cause. We were a cause looking for a supporting product,” Wade explains. When she racked her brain trying to pinpoint the perfect product, Wade knew that she wanted to offer a unisex product that was easy-to-use, convenient to carry, and fell into the skincare category. It soon became clear that lip balms were the most logical choice.
Each lip balm is emblazoned with different words and phrases, ranging from love to empathy, that encourage people to overcome the habit of using stereotypes to judge others. Wade chose to inscribe these words onto the labels of the lip balms so they can serve as quick reminders to people. “My cause is deconstructing bias so we needed to create a product that was going to help people on this journey of practicing being alert,” she says. Wade likes to compare the lip balms to Pinnochio’s conscience Jiminy Cricket as they both assist in guiding you down a righteous path. Wade explains that seeing the positive words on the lip balm encourages people to love, have empathy, be curious, and stay open.
All of the lip balms are made in Menkhe, Senegal. Having been born in Senegal, it was important to Wade to employ and empower the people in her home country. “We’re providing great jobs to women who will tell you ‘I never thought in a million years that I would have a job and it would be a job where I'm wearing a white blouse, doing chemistry, working in the lab, and my kids are so proud of me’,” Wade expresses.
SkinIsSkin’s Senegal-based team formulates the lip balms with a potent blend of nourishing and natural ingredients like coconut oil, hibiscus, castor seed oil, baobab oil, and shea butter to ensure your lips stay soft and hydrated all day long. 50% of all profits from lip balm sales go to organizations fighting to end discrimination.
You can shop SkinIsSkin’s lip balms on skinisskin.com.