The “black don’t crack” theory is a tale as old as time, but it does raise a question that still seems unanswered: Is Black skin slower to age? Well, kind of. While our melanin (i.e. pigment) doesn’t prevent aging—or skin cancer for that matter, its resistance to UV rays apparently slows down the aging process of our skin, by more than 10 years! These findings came out of a 2015 Harvard study on aging. Needless to say, the conclusions of this study come as little surprise to those women blessed with that magical melanin.
During my 20-year long career, I helped launched products for the biggest global players in the beauty industry. Yet after countless conversations with women in my life whose concerns were not “fine lines and wrinkles,” I found myself trying to make sense of the inexplicable chasm that exists between their needs and the limited choices they encounter outside the “ethnic aisle” when looking for safe and effective products formulated for them. Was anyone asking the question: Does the prevailing anti-aging narrative make sense for women of color?
In 2015, I made the risky move to step away from my executive position with a French-based global beauty company. I began a course of study in herbalism; and over a period of 2 years crafted a plant-based skin care regimen to bridge that gap, and challenge the industry’s approach to aging that sets up a construct against which women are told to fight. Together, my sister and I created NATIVSK/N— a skin care ritual conceived with an herbalist and developed with a chemist. We married traditional wisdom and science to make effective, yet gentle formulas (free of irritants and unnecessary additives) that are always nourishing and beneficial to darker skin tones. Even the preservative systems (in addition to their role of keeping formulas free of pathogens) have skin benefits.
NATIVSK/N is not interested in stopping time. We believe time is what makes us who we are. Instead the brand focuses on feeding the skin with the nutrients it needs to support its natural pathways and the affinity it has to heal itself. We want you to have skin that feels vibrant and alive at every moment. We’re addressing the concerns that matter most to women of color, by developing formulas that are a safer way to care for complexions which are more prone to dark marks and discoloration.
"We look to the power of nature and the plant world to nourish, educate, heal and delight us."
MONA MARTIN, CO-FOUNDER
"We use traditional ingredients in the service of modern women."
TIMOTHY J. SIMMONS, CO-FOUNDER
Southern roots with herbalists in the family
My earliest and most enduring memories are being shipped back to Georgia (with my two sisters) from California every June to spend summers with our grandparents. Like many other African-American parents who were raising children far away from their origins—or “home” as our mother frequently reminded—these lengthy visits were intended to keep children connected to their roots; ensuring one didn’t forget where they came from.
Alongside memories of adventures in those sometimes-scary backwoods behind the house, I also remember my grandmothers' kitchens. Bottles and jars filled with strange looking liquids and dried plants were strewn about countertops and on window ledges; inside cabinets on screened-in porches—all jostling for space with pots, pans, brooms, mops and other household items. The occasional warnings from cousins “don't touch that stuff” only heightened my curiosity.
All kinds of medicinal plants were cultivated in our grandmothers’ backyard gardens. Most often, plants were wild-crafted from their “secret gardens” in the woods. Native plant species such as chickweed for constipation; ground ivy for an upset stomach; pinesap and fumitory used to make soothing salves for all those summer scrapes, cuts and bites; and much more. From this Eden they made ointments, salves, elixirs, concoctions and sachets filled with dried herbs. This veritable medicine cabinet of green medicine was both an economic necessity and their way of taking control of their own healthcare.
The wisdom of these herbal practitioners excited me! But it wasn’t until I began studying herbalism in 2015—with Peeka Trenkle, at New York City’s Open Center, a school for the healing arts—that I realized my Southern grandmothers were herbalists!
rethinking skin care
We dreamed of a brand that shifts the skin care discussion away from anti-aging, to focus instead on skin health and nutrition, and using plant-based ingredients that are always beneficial to the skin. We've held steadfast to our belief that safe and effective skincare can be designed to specifically address the unique skin concerns of women of color. Nativskin is thinking about skincare differently.