Olamide Olowe (@olamideaolowe) is disrupting the skincare industry with her inclusive and innovative brand, Topicals. By using science-backed formulas and promoting mental health advocacy, Olowe is blurring the line between skin health and mental health, creating products that promote realistic beauty standards while helping customers look and feel their best.
Olowe grew up with “a ton of chronic skin conditions,” so she knows firsthand how debilitating those conditions can be—not just on the skin itself, but also on the mental health of the patient. “We knew we had to build a holistic brand around the customer that also touched on their mental health,” she tells In The Know.
For Olowe, adding to the mental and physical toll of having multiple skin conditions was the general lack of knowledge and care options for people with her skin color and skin type.
Through countless trips to primary care doctors and dermatologists, Olowe would often “leave the offices without a prescription and without a treatment plan.” Olowe notes that this happened for a multitude of reasons, including the doctors being unfamiliar with her skin tone and skin type. “There is a lack of inclusivity when it comes to skincare and dermatology,” she says.
As a kid, Olowe admits that she didn’t understand why there was a lack of information regarding certain skin tones and types. “But as I got older, particularly in college, I did research around the dermatology industry and found that about 50% of dermatologists and residents say that their medical school training didn’t prepare them to treat skin of color,” Olowe says.
That striking statistic was a big motivation for Olowe to start Topicals. “There was a glaring gap in the industry,” says Olowe, sharing that she aimed to fill that gap by creating products that reached out to, and catered to, people of all skin tones.
Inclusivity is built into the core of Topicals, and the brand uses that value to ensure that their customers feel wanted, seen, and heard, from both a skincare and mental health perspective.
Topicals’ products target four specific skin conditions: dark spots and discoloration, eczema, in-grown hairs, and keratosis pilaris. “Instead of focusing just on the shame of the skin condition or the painfulness of the skin condition, we’re focusing on the fun that you can have by having the skin condition,” says Olowe.
Beyond helping customers feel more confident in their own skin, Olowe shares that to date, Topicals has donated over $100,000 to mental health organizations. “We’ve made it our mission to not just talk about mental health, but particularly in how it relates to how you view yourself,” she says.
As her brand continues to grow, Olowe hopes that her success can help encourage a shift towards a more inclusive workforce across all industries.
“I have this unique insight because I am a Black woman,” she says. “And so I would hope that we would see me and see other women like me being successful, and see that we should continue to invest to see one hundred or one thousand ‘mes’ in different industries, so that we create a better country that feels more inclusive, and produces more products that are better for everyone.”
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