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When Noelly Michoux moved to New York City in 2013 to work for an agency representing cosmetic and luxury fragrance, a makeup line formulated with darker skin tones in mind—Black Up Cosmetics—was added to her portfolio. She instantly fell in love.
“I remember Black Up being the very first makeup brand I tried that didn’t make me look green or gray, or make me break out,” says Michoux. “I threw my whole passion into developing the brand in the US with the support of a huge ecosystem of makeup artists and press.”
Soon, she started to get questions on whether or not the company would expand into skincare. “The feedback that I was getting from all these women around me—not only from Black woman writers, but also women of color at large—was whether Black Up was going to create any skincare for darker skin,” Michoux says. “Because what was already available was not working. Coming from Europe, we see the US as this massive, very diverse country that’s listening. So it was a bit of a shock for me to hear women complain about that.”
So Michoux started to do some research. She discovered that most skincare products on the market weren’t developed with skin phototypes IV, V, VI—also known as melanin-rich skin—in mind. That inspired her to create a brand that developed formulas to address concerns specific to deeper shades. The result: 456 Skin, launched last fall, the offers a tightly curated selection of products that includes a refreshing gel cleanser, lightweight toning lotion, and a cream moisturizer that dries down to a matte finish. Each product is made to order after filling out a skincare questionnaire on the site.
At the core of each formula—cleansing oil aside—is vitalized water, which provides superior hydration that’s essential for skin containing higher layers of melanin as it tends to loose water at a quicker rate. “Everyone is using demineralized water, but that’s dead water on their skin,” says Michoux. “The skin is made of mostly water, so we’re putting dead water on it? We’re like, okay, that just doesn’t work.”
This pioneering blend of natural and dermatologist-backed, biocompatible ingredients catering to melanin-rich skin was exciting to hear about. So naturally, we had to try 456 Skin out for ourselves. Read on for an honest review of our customized routines.
Michella Oré, beauty assistant
Gel cleansers are basically a must for my skin—my cheeks tend to dry out through the day while my forehead very much keeps its sheen. With the humidity now on full blast in NYC, I’ve been on the hunt for a cleanser that will purge my face of all the sweat, dirt, and unknown pollutants that go hand-in-hand with city dwelling without drying me out. The Green Bae cleansing gel goes on silky smooth and subtly lathers as it lifts away the grime. The mixture of tea tree oil and orange blossom water wakes my skin all the way up, while the salicylic acid targets any budding breakouts before they have a chance to show out. The scent of the cleanser is a bit strong at first, but it doesn’t take too long to fade. While I generally avoid anything with a noticeable smell, I didn’t mind this one because the mix of herbal and fruity notes added to the overall refreshing effect.
The Tonic Oh! lotion looks and smells like a sweet punch and left my skin looking more radiant after a few uses. And there’s absolutely no staining from this lightweight formula, which I was a little concerned about as I did my routine before heading to bed. I did, however, notice some peeling when I applied it before the Day Hack moisturizer, which was a drawback.
As for that Day Hack moisturizer, it was a bit too matte for me. While this creamy product would probably be the holy grail for those prone to oiliness and excessive shine, my combination skin felt stiff after it dried down.
Tonic Oh! Treatment Lotion
Day Hack Matte Moisturiser
Ru Wolle, associate editor
I love that this line has skin-care products focusing on melanin skin, especially understanding that dark skin tones have a different dermatology principle that the skincare industry has ignored for decades within their research, development, and testing process.
I’ve only been using the Sevenly Delight serum and Tonic Oh! lotion for a couple of days, and my initial thoughts were that both products applied well due to their lightweight texture. But after a few minutes of letting the formula dry into the skin, the products begin to peel off as if there is some sort of build-up. I’ve tried applying both separately with no additional products and get the same result. For someone guilty of constantly touching their face, the peeling happens in a matter of minutes, making it hard to know if the product is working or not.
However, the Green Bae cleansing gel is something I’ll definitely keep in my rotation. I usually do two steps before adding in a cleanser; I’ll use micellar water to remove makeup, then go in with either African Black soap or papaya soap, and then finish off with a cleansing gel. And a little goes a long way with the Green Bae. About a dime size was enough, and it takes a couple of seconds of rubbing in the skin for it to foam up and begin cleansing. What I appreciate about it, in contrast to my other soaps, is that it doesn’t dehydrate the skin. It adds a bit of moisture while leaving a squeaky clean feeling.