Style

Meet the Nigerian Sisters On a Mission to Keep Your Melanin Poppin' and Protected

Nigerian sisters Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa of Bolden on the importance of developing beauty products that benefit women of color.

Even if you’re not a person of color, you know what the dermatological adjective “ashy” is: Tiny flecks of dried skin that show up on people with more melanin. But you might not know how difficult it is to find products that don’t leave white residue, like when you apply sunscreen.


The duo behind the beauty line Bolden, Nigerian sisters Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa, know this struggle all too well. Growing up in West Africa, they often used shea butter at home. Bolden was created to help expand the beauty options available to women of color, and support communities that produce shea nuts in Burkina Faso. In their quest to develop their line of shea products, the number one beauty complaint from their customers was hyperpigmentation—or, the discoloration of darker skin due to sun exposure.

Ndidi Obidoa and Chinelo Chidozie of Bolden. Photo courtesy of Bolden.

“A lot of black people don't wear sunblock because they don't see the damage immediately,” Chidozie says. She points to the late musician Bob Marley, who died of acral lentiginous melanoma, a serious skin cancer, at 36. “There’s an issue with education around sunscreen in the black community. Even though skin cancer doesn’t affect people of color as much as it affects people with white skin, that makes it more dangerous because it’s often not caught until it’s in an advanced stage.”

Aside from developing skin cancer, the other issue for people of color is spending a lot of time testing products to see if they’ll work on their skin. “I always ask myself, ‘Is this a product that will leave a white cast on me?’ and then I realize, whoever made the sunblock probably didn't have me in mind. As consumers, we're so used to trying products to see if they'll work. In 2017, that's not okay.” Consumers shouldn’t have to one-style-fits-all products that don’t suit their needs.

Chidozie and Obidoa started investigating why sunblock leaves a white residue. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, two chemical compounds found in most sunblock ingredients and are known for reflecting sunlight off of skin. But only for certain skin pigments do these compounds actually look good; otherwise it might look more like this.

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“Skin is skin 95 percent of the time,” says Chidozie. “But there are differences in how skin scars and how melanin reacts. It does look different, and if you’re black, you’re concerned about those discolorations.”

For the sisters, it was an obvious gap in the marketplace. The answer was to develop a formula that acts more like a moisturizer than a sunscreen; it’s a cream-colored serum that dries clear on the skin. Bolden plans to add it to their line within the next couple of weeks, and they know there’ll be demand.

“We’ve tested it on ourselves and a wide spectrum of skin tones, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” Chidozie says. “Folks are very excited that we are increasing the number of product options that work really well for their skin concerns.”

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(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

The 10 Best HHP Songs Ranked

On the second anniversary of HHP's passing, we rank 10 of the South African hip-hop legend's best songs.

Jabulani Tsambo, popularly known by his alias HHP, was a pivotal part of South African hip-hop. Renowned for trailblazing the motswako sub-genre in the early 2000s, the rapper sadly passed away on October 24th, 2018 after a long and much publicised bout with depression.

During his active years, which span two decades (from 1997 to 2018), he was instrumental in breaking barriers and bridging the gap between kwaito and hip-hop in SA, from the late 90s to early 2000s.

He became a household name in the 2000s as he spearheaded the motswako movement, propelling it to the mainstream and solidifying his legendary status in the process.

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