Set up in 2020 by Entrepreneur Noelly Michoux, the aim was to create clinically active, personalised skincare especially for women of colour with photo-types skin 4, 5 and 6; packed with high concentrations of active botanicals, the team’s knowledge of internal medicine had given them a very clear idea of how stress, hormones, medication and lifestyle can affect and change the state of melanin rich skin. So analysing and treating skin based on what it needs at any particular moment, not by a generalised idea of ‘skin type’, became the brand’s USP – music to a beauty editor’s ears. With that in mind, we had the honour of interviewing 456 Skin’s founder to find out more about her inspiration behind the brand and what she hopes for the future. Most importantly, we wanted to find out what ingredients they add in their formula that makes the product choice especially suitable for melanin rich skin.
Q: For those that are sceptical about customised skincare- can you tell us what the benefits are compared to getting off the shelf skincare products?
A: Consumers are more than just a ‘segment, ‘age group’ or ‘gender’ – they are individuals. Ultimately, our personalisation allows them to express their unique character, while offering clear benefits.
Our range of Core Blends are filled with biodynamic, oil-regulating, cell-renewing, brightening, nourishing, anti-inflammatory, and microbiome-restoring active ingredients. But one singular formulation isn’t suited to all skin. That’s why our experts here at 4.5.6 Skin customize your formulations based on your photo-type and skin type and your current skin concerns or fragrance preferences. Moreover, ingredients are at pick freshness and therefore deliver better results than off- the shelf sterilised formulations.
Q: Hyperpigmentation is such a prevalent issue among women of colour and finding products that actually work is either difficult or very expensive. Looking at your range of products, Can you tell us the main ingredients in products that help with hyperpigmentation and why you chose those ingredients and can black women really get rid of discolouration?
A: Before talking about treating hyperpigmentation:
- It is important to Look at how melanin skin is functionally different to Caucasian skin.
- People with higher content of melanin in their skin ( photo-type IV, V and VI)have melanocytes, the cells that produce the melanin pigment that are robust well because they have to release the melanin into the epidermis. but they are also very reactive because melanin plays a protective role to the skin. So that means that any kind of trauma to the skin, inflammation, irritation will triggers these powerful melanocytes to produce melanin to protect the traumatised skin and that is how post inflammatory hyperpigmentation happens and that melanin that is released to the epidermis can remain trapped within the cells for days, months, years even and the melanin can get deeper into the skin layers, in the dermis which leads to stubborn and persistent hyperpigmentation.
This is important to factor in when creating anti pigmentation products for melanin rich skin because if you too much with aggressive products, high % acids then you’ll wake the melanocytes and there will a backlash and if you don’t do it enough by having a single ingredients approach which may work for Caucasian but it won’t produce results for a darker skin
“Treating hyperpigmentation in melanin-rich skin requires both a gentle, yet multi-tiered approach to ensure that all avenues for producing excess melanin are addressed. Also, in treating melanin-rich skin, any therapeutics that can lead to inflammation and resultant worsening of hyperpigmentation must be avoided, such as aggressive mechanical exfoliation, the use of high-percentage acids or harsh ingredients.” — Dr Carlos A. Charles, Board Certified Dermatologist.
The main ingredients we use to treat hyperpigmentation are:
- Cysteine, Glutathione (Hydroxyapatite): This powerful duo uses the melanin synthesis pathway to help transform eumelanin (the darker melanin) into pheomelanin (the brighter melanin) and naturally reduces hyperpigmentation.
- ALPHA arbutin: A gentle but powerful active that helps diminish acne scars and prevent hyperpigmentation.
- Palmaria Palmata extract: Acts at the heart of the melanocyte to inhibit melanogenesis, thereby evening out the skin tone and leaving your skin radiant.
- Vitamins C, B3 and B6: Each of these vitamins is known for its brightening powers. When combined, they bring out the best in one another and brighten the skin without bleaching it.
- Azelaic acid: Stops the formation of hyperpigmentation spots. It regulates melanin levels, evens skin tone and exfoliates the skin.
- Hydrolysed thapsus flower: Protects skin from harmful high-energy UV rays. Transforms the rays and uses them to add radiance to your skin
- Glycerin and Balanite roxburghii seed oil: This biocompatible active uses the palmoplantar melanin regulation pathway to brighten the skin and fight the many factors that cause hyperpigmentation.
- Lilium Candidum Flower Extract: A bioactive extract that helps prevent and reduce dark spot and skin blemishes to promote an even complexion.
- Carrot Seed Oil: Promotes a clearer, brighter, and evenly-toned complexion
- Astaxanthin: The most powerful antioxidant nature has to offer, this active helps to brighten the complexion, while protecting it from free radicals.
- Zinc Oxide: Drastically reduces post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, while minimizing any irritations that may occur.
- Green Tea Glycoprotein: An anti-tyrosinase active that helps to brighten the complexion and give added elasticity by reducing melanin production.
- Niacinamide: Helps to reduce the overall inflammatory response, resulting in fewer blemishes and a reduction in post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation.
- Rose Rubiginosa Oil: Rich in vitamin A and K, Lycopene, Linoleic Acid, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids, this active uses nutrients to help even out hyperpigmentation.
- Salicylic Acid: A Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) with peeling functions whilst also containing anti-inflammatory properties to help heal skin which is red and angry looking.
Q: What’s the correct way to exfoliate your face and how often should you do it?
A: There are two ways to exfoliate the skin, how often you do it depends on the type of exfoliation you use, how sensitive your skin is and what your goals are.
Mechanical exfoliation can take the form of abrading the skin with various products, anything from topical skincare products with artificial beads, to facial towels, to the now defunct Clarisonic- RIP. While mechanical exfoliation tends to be the go-to method for most people, and for many consumers they feel that it will solve all of their skin problems, it is fraught with peril for those with melanin rich skin. Once again, inflammation is the bane of existence for darker skin, and of course, any sort of trauma can lead to inflammation. So while mechanical exfoliation is used by many, we rarely advocate it’s use for melanin rich skin.
Chemical exfoliation can take various forms with the most commonly employed technique being the chemical peel. There are a bevy of commercially available chemical peels. As the name implies, they mostly work gently stripping away a layer of the epidermis. Additionally, several peels also have active ingredients that also work as antioxidants or disruptors of the pathway of melanogenesis such as vitamin C. Peels are typically categorized as superficial, medium and deep peels. Superficial peels are typically the safest in melanin rich skin as the medium and deep peels can often cause permanent unwanted results such as hyperpigmentation and scarring. Some of the more commonly used agents in superficial peels include various acids, such as Salicylic and Glycolic. These along with other powerful enzymatic exfoliators such as green tea glycoproteins are great to gently exfoliate the skin.
The key tenant for exfoliation for melanin rich skin is first and foremost, approach the skin gently. At all costs avoid any method that may traumatize the skin or increase inflammation such as mechanical exfoliation, the use of high percentage acids or aggressive ingredients. A delicately balanced combined approach is always better than an aggressive treatment plan, and early intervention employing calming agents and antioxidants to curtail inflammation before it triggers melanin production is key.
Our chemical/ enzymatic Exfoliators to be Clear is a chemical and Enzymatic exfoliator that will help buff away dead cells ,boost cell renewal and help resurface new skin with no hyperpigmentation and boost radiance. It can be used 2 to 3 times a week or even every day in areas on the face that have more texture ( nose and chin area).
Apply to clean, moist skin. Massage until you feel all the goodness seeping in. It will tingle a little.. those are the active ingredients at works
Leave on for 3 minutes.
Rinse off with lukewarm water.
Q: 456 Skin is currently the only personalised skincare solution especially for women of colour, What do you think your mark in the skincare/ personal care world is as a woman of colour so far?
A: WOC women have always been left outside of brand’s consideration, their R&D equation, representation etc… WOC have always had to make do with whatever the industry created even if it was not made having their skin specificities in mind. Melanin rich skin has structural and functional differences that should be factored into the R&D process so it was about time we saw the emergence that put WOC on the pedestal and put them at the front, back and centre of everything they do.
We lead the innovation toward melanin driven science for skincare and beauty products at large.
Beyond the fact that we are writing the playbook for melanin driven skincare science and creating unique products based on our audience physiology, products that understand the skin and can truly help it become healthy and resilient, 4.5.6 means so much more to us because we are starting a new conversation around about melanin skin beauty, and we are pushing for a beauty and skincare industry that is completely decolonized and inclusive in its conception of beauty itself, its focus, products creation and representation.
Q: We know everyone is different, but in your opinion, what’s the best way to truly look after your skin?
A: To us the best way to take care of yours is to know your skin! know the nuances in your skin and use that knowledge to make the best decision for your skin.
Every so often, a skincare brand comes along which makes us sit up and take notice and 456 Skin has certainly delivered on all the promises.
“I’ve been using 456 Skin’s Green Bae cleanser for just over 4 weeks and the difference it’s made to my skin is amazing. I suffer from a skincare condition that I’m on medication for so it left my skin really dry, angry and sore. I love the fact that I could choose exactly what I wanted the product to address so for me it was my skin tone, skin phototype and the concerns I was trying to address with inflammation being my highest priority. Initially I was just happy to have a cleanser that would slew off the dead skin without burning but this cleanser reduced my pores and minimised the acne that was recurring. I am now looking forward to trying the serums to clear the hyperpigmentation.” Queen, Northampton
456 Skin currently sell 6 products; with everything from cleansers to masks to serums and creams.