Conversations surrounding inclusive beauty tend to center makeup or hair care, and for good reason. Many of those products claim to be “universal,” but actually aren’t, as they don’t work for all the complexions and hair textures that exist. However, the industry has been making an attempt to catch up to the conversation, and recently, skin-care brands have also started to offer products that address the concerns of those with melanated skin, like hyperpigmentation or the ghostly white casts often left by sunscreen. Now, there is another new brand on the block catering to these needs called Melē (pronounced Mell-aye), and I was lucky enough to try it out.
In 2018, Esi Eggleton, the chief operating officer of beauty and personal care for Unilever North America, and Sarah Irby, Unilever North America’s brand director, both felt frustrated by the lack of products that addressed the skin concerns of women of color. They formed a team of experts to help create a line of skin care backed by understanding the science behind melanated skin.
Mona Gohara, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, is just one of the pros on that team and tells Allure she believes brands like Melē are long overdue in the skin-care market. “Melē was created with the biology of melanin-rich skin in mind,” Gohara says. “To that end, its products focus on the highest order of skin concerns that many [of my] Black and Brown patients have, including, but not limited to, skin tone, enlarged pores, sun protection, and moisturization.”
In September 2020, two years after Eggleton and Irby had their original vision, the brand launched with five products — an AHA-based toner, two serums (brightening and pore minimizing), and two moisturizers (one with and one without SPF) — all full of powerful ingredients like vitamin C and niacinamide to address those skin concerns.
In fact, niacinamide is a stand-out ingredient in this product line, and there’s a reason why. “Niacinamide is a version of vitamin B3, which can brighten the complexion, erase wrinkles, reduce water loss through the skin, improve elasticity, and fight inflammation,” cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski previously told Allure. It’s no wonder that the powerhouse ingredient is found in four of the products in the line. It makes achieving a brighter, more even complexion a reality for those with melanin-rich skin. Since evening out my skin is a goal of mine, the moment these products arrived I was ready to see what Melē had in store for my skin.