By Christy Anyanwu
The human skin is an organ with largest surface area as it covers the whole body. It helps to maintain good health. In Nigeria and some other places, the colour of the skin plays a role in determining the attractiveness of one person to another. Whereas some people are attracted to individuals with very fair complexion, other people prefer very dark individuals. It is common knowledge that women spend a good deal of money and time on caring for the skin. Kikelomo Opatola, a practicing derma- epidemiologist and chief executive of Woorergold Cloud, has been engaged in a decade long campaign to educate people about the skin. In 2013, she set up the Skin Healthcare Therapeutic Centre for this purpose. She is the President of the Skintitute Academy and is the Intervention Nigeria, which has been working for 10 years to eradicate poor skin care culture and practices in Nigeria. She brought a rare combination of professional skills honed from her days in GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (GSK) as a dermatological detailing manager. She spoke with Sunday Sun about her desire to see sanity in the skin and beauty industry. In the run up to the forthcomin Skintervention Virtual Conference, slated to hold in Lagos on March 18, 2021, she virtual conference slated for March 18, 2021, she spoke with Sunday Sun about her desire to see sanity in the skin and beauty industry.
What propelled your journey into skin beauty therapy?
I was doing a campaign as a staff of GSK, where I sensitized the communities in hospitals, primary health care centers and a lot of maternity homes about skincare. I saw the gap in the environment and out of passion, I went further to study in VCTC in the UK. I won an award in facials, skincare and massage. I also won award for health and safety in same institution. For over eight years, I have been in business as a specialist in skincare. I saw the need to go into that line since I was relating with public health issues related to skin. Then I got Masters degree in Public Health so as to have a wider scope around sustainability for skin intervention. We also expanded our scope to the Skintitude Academy. In essence we now have a beauty school so that we can close the gap of education lacking within the skincare sector for those running the Spa and those coming up with brand formulation. In the society now, we have a lot of organics, a lot of creams and I don’t usually throw blame to anyone; I only throw blame to the society because we have a lot of more important issues at hand than to focus on that. But now that it is becoming an epidemic, there’s a shift already. Recently, there was a news report that the Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber, the Senate, is looking into the issue of bleaching creams. Regardless of how your skin is, even if you have made a mistake in the past, we believe that the fault is not anybody’s own. I can actually check for my skin, I can actually know my skin age, these are kind of reaction we get when we go to communities to sensitize them about skin issues. People are eager to know their skin age. People ask us many questions online. It is a platform to just engage people one-on-one and also close the gap for them by educating them on the right skin care products and advising them on how to age gracefully.
Was it the experience at GSK that pushed you into this line of business or you’ve always had flair for beauty?
I have always looked good right from growing up. I have my own combination of merging things together. I think I learnt that from my mother and my sister. My mum is a retired nurse. My sister is a fashionista on her own, so I have always had a fashion sense growing up and looking good is just there for me. Growing up, everybody thought my sister would be the one in this beauty field, but the passion grew because I wanted to read medicine but my mother didn’t really like that. I tilted and I found myself in management science. I was combining management and science at the university level. While I was in GSK, there was a period I had challenges. I overstocked my products and I needed to come up with ideas as well as meet my target for the New Year. That was when ideas started coming in. I started re-activation with pharmacy; that was when ideas came in. My boss was the one that advised that I should go and train because of the passion he saw in me. I grow from day-to-day by the grace of God. I read vast. Anything about skin triggers my interest because it comes up with a lot of experience mixed up together.
Are there remedies for damaged skin due to bad creams?
Yes. Everybody has a skin story. Skin story is a TV series for us in future. For example, if I ask you your skin story after I run a test on you, you will have a lot to say. Either you have bought something somewhere or somebody recommended something you used and it didn’t go well with you. Everybody has a story to tell about their skin. Secondly, everybody wants to look good. When you have a damaged skin and you are ready to adhere to instructions that we give to you, it comes with spending money. Take steroid-based products for instance, we have some many people buying them to mix with their creams, such ori. The side effect is to make your skin light or give your skin a lighter shade. They recommend these steroids for a particular case and the doctor will advise you use for three days but we found that people use beyond three days, and those creams run faster into the blood stream, to attack the middle layer of the skin. They cause different issues that would obstruct the outer layer of the skin. When such things happen it’s difficult for the skin to receive its healing because the outer layer of the skin has four layers (epidermis). Now, when something is penetrating to the middle layer of the skin there’s an obstruction and it takes, longer time for the skin to repair. Most times we are not ready to wait for the result but for somebody that is ready to adhere to all these instructions and spend money you will get your skin back. It takes longer time but most times we are not always patient. It can take you two weeks or one month to damage your skin but it can take you several years to revive your skin depending on the skin type and the condition of the skin. Skin beauty festival is coming with three days exhibition of everything that has to do with the skin. There will be fabric sector. For the skin, we recommend cotton and silk fabric. They are healthy for the skin. We don’t support nylon, so the ability to come up with a particular thing and be able to explain why it’s suitable for the skin of your customer. We are doing everything about skin and beauty for the skin beauty
These days, there are lots of organic shops, mixing creams and soap, what is your take on that?
Most of them didn’t pass through quality control check, they just combine some things together and there are chemical reactions. Those things have side effects. They are natural plants, that can make the skin lighter, but there are formations that you need to go through and convert the process the right way, going through the laboratory protocol and also having the products to check properly; it has to go through quality control and quality assurance. But sometimes, these people do it themselves, who is regulating those things? And ignorantly, the communities come to you and tell you that your product is good. Celebrities are at the forefront of all these promotions. When people see someone for instance like Beyoncé giving advert on a particular cream, everyone wants to look like Beyoncé and before you know it everybody tilts towards that line. There’s a gap. In a country where we have 110 dermatologists serving 200 million people that’s a whole lot of gap. The prevalence of skin infection is getting higher due to formulation of different brands through organics. The infection doesn’t start in a day, it starts with dehydration, either the moisture balance of whatever you are putting together is not appropriate or it’s not the right proportion and once it starts, its causes dehydration of the skin. From there you have tendency of itching.
Also, a lot of people are battling with acne these days, saying it is the use of face mask that is causing it. No, it is our mode of handling our skin most of the time. The way we handle the face mask too is causing a lot of acne. From your jaw, you are covering your mouth again, there are different organisms and you are bringing it back closer to your nose.
What is style to you?
I don’t do more than myself. I know I love wristwatches and shoes. I used to love jewelry a lot but I have reduced them. I don’t do neck jewelry these days. Now, once I wear a good earring, I’m fine. You can see the same wristwatches with me for 15 years because I invest in good ones. You can see clothes with me for 10-15 years because I buy good ones. Once I don’t go out of shape because I have a whole lot. I might not have to repeat a particular dress until after a year or twice.