Despite advancements in many beauty categories, skin care for melanin-rich skin lags behind.

Unilever, known for impactful initiatives such as Vaseline’s Healing Project and Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, has found systemic racism limits access to proper skin care in Black and Latinx communities.

To bring awareness to the issue and champion change, the company announced Vaseline’s Equitable Skincare for All. Born out of the Vaseline Healing Project and in partnership with nonprofit Direct Relief, the effort focuses on advancements of training, providing resources and education to better equip dermatologists and medical practitioners to accurately treat, diagnose and care for skin of color.

“We know that healthcare inequities lead to poorer health outcomes for Black and Latinx communities. When we look at this through the lens of skin health, we saw that the disparities in care are equally as apparent,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, COO Beauty and Personal Care, Unilever North America.

Actress Regina King, Vaseline Brand Ambassador and Creative Director, is lending her star power to raise awareness for the Equitable Skincare for All campaign.

“I love being a Black American woman. Using my platform to celebrate who I am affords me the opportunity to remind people who look past the dissimilitude, that the inequities experienced by Black people still exist,” she said in a statement. “Black and Brown people have been at a disadvantage for far too long. The lack of access to healthcare resources is still a huge concern,” she added.

At the core of the issue is a lack of education, starting with professionals. “We recently learned that nearly half of dermatologists don’t feel adequately trained to treat skin of color,” said Esi.  “And without access to proper skin health comes the likelihood of misdiagnosis or no diagnosis, ultimately leading to even worse health outcomes for the Black and Latinx communities.” 

Even though nearly half of America is multicultural, training in cosmetology, esthetic and dermatology schools doesn’t apply to all skin tones. Compounding that is a lack of diversity in the profession. Only 3 percent of practicing dermatologists identify as Black and 4.2 percent as Latinx, according to Unilever.

To that end, Vaseline’s Equitable Skincare for All focuses on three important areas: education for skin care professionals, resources for the community and providing access to care.

“Our initiatives on both Vaseline and MELĒ are working to achieve equity in skin care and help improve skin health outcomes for people of color. Through these programs, we hope to reach medical professionals, skin care practitioners and key opinion leaders to help as many people as possible understand the differences in caring for melanin-rich skin,” explained Esi of the unique needs of deeper skin tones, such as treatment of acne and scarring, seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

MELĒ Initiatives

MELĒ was Esi cofounded and Unilever executive Sarah Irby, after two years of research in an effort to develop products that address the lack of skin care specific to women of color.

The brand launched in October on with plans to roll out to Target doors and other retailers early next year.  MELĒ looks to close the gap in resources and care for skin of color by partnering with academic and dermatologists experts to help curate and oversee a curriculum with skin care specialists who focus on treating melanin-rich skin. The game plan is to incorporate the curriculum into cosmetology and esthetician textbooks and programs which currently lack equitable and inclusive training standards for Black and Brown skin, according to Unilever.

A petition has been created calling for signatures to reach the Cosmetology State Boards and Institutions to make impactful change to help diversify skin care program education. One call to action is to raise the bar for state licensing by establishing new certification requirements and minimum practitioner hours of melanin-rich skin training.

Vaseline Initiatives

Vaseline is providing funding to support educational resource, Medscape, in the development of continuing medical education to equip dermatologists and medical practitioners to better treat, diagnose and care for skin of color. Learning modules will cover treatment for common skin conditions such as acne and scarring, seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis endemic to skin of color.

Vaseline is also linking with health care platform, Hued, to develop a search tool to help consumers identify and connect with dermatologists experienced in treating skin of color.

The brand is committed to continued access to care through Direct Relief and The Vaseline Healing Project, which helps to support a network of health centers and clinics that provide affordable, comprehensive and culturally competent services. In the past five years The Vaseline Healing Project has reached more than five million people in 70-plus countries providing them with dermatological care, supplies and other needs.

Since March 2020, Vaseline has donated $1.6 million in products and monetary donations to community health centers across in the U.S. in an effort to protect and care for medical staff and patients in Black and Latinx communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. And The Vaseline  Healing Project provided immediate support to end discrimination by donating $100,000 to Know Your Rights Camp.