we talk to the creators of ceylon, the skincare line that finally puts colored men first

January 11, 2019

interview by: Bere Wangge

words by: Bere Wangge

As was the case with photography, makeup and skincare were initially made to compliment fair skin. Thankfully, there have been multiple efforts to rectify this in recent years, most notably in film industry. If modern cinema has forward-thinking cinematographers and directors of photography to thank for this progress, we have Blake Rascoe and Patrick Boateng II to revolutionize men’s skincare industry. 

Blake and Patrick are the co-founders of the skincare brand, Ceylon. The line consists of three essential products that cover the basics: Cleanser, toner and moisturizer. It may sound like any other average skincare brand, except it's not.  

ceylon skincare for men of color - interview with founders patrick boateng and blake roscoe 02 480px.jpg

Ceylon is developed for men of color and formulated for guys with melanin in their skin. This is something that other skincare brands haven’t really touched on. It’s unfortunate, especially considering the negative effects those products can have on colored skin, as Blake and Patrick have learned all too painfully. 

Globetrotter reached out to the two men to talk about Ceylon and putting men in color first.

Globetrotter Lab: First of all, would you mind telling a little about yourselves? 
Patrick Boateng: I’m originally from the Washington, D.C. area. Before creating Ceylon, I was a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, serving in Guangzhou, China. I draw much inspiration from my experiences connecting with people, learning about other histories, and exploring unfamiliar aesthetic ideas in my travels. I also speak Mandarin with gradually decreasing fluency. 

Blake Rascoe: I’m originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Before joining the Ceylon team, I worked in the entertainment business as a TV producer and day-to-day manager to John Legend in Los Angeles. I draw my inspiration from my love of creating content and storytelling, studying social trends, and learning about new cultures through travel.  

Patrick Boateng II & Blake Rascoe

Patrick Boateng II & Blake Rascoe

Globetrotter Lab: Do you have any experience or background in men's grooming? How did you develop the formula for Ceylon?  
Patrick Boateng II & Blake Rascoe: Neither of us has any professional experience in the industry. We are just avid users of skincare and grooming products! As for the formulas, we came up with core concepts based on research that currently exists for skin of color and how best to treat its most common issues. From there, we worked through many prototypes to achieve the combination of ingredients and textures that are gentle, effective, and accessible.  

Globetrotter Lab: Would you mind elaborating the story on how the brand was born? And what the word "Ceylon" mean?
Patrick Boateng II & Blake Rascoe: Ceylon is ultimately the synthesis of our desire to build something that can have a massive impact in the world. In the process of trying to figure out how to treat our own skin problems, we realized how many people just like us struggled in the same way. It made sense that the next step would be to build a brand around the opportunity to help solve a key healthcare issue for people in our community.  

While synthesizing our experiences from hundreds of different products we’ve personally tried, we also wanted to take a relatively grounded approach when it came to ideas of aesthetics, textures, use cases, and other areas of interaction that are often under-explored in product development. Once we had a clear concept for what Ceylon should be, we worked to build and test prototypes, sticking to what worked and getting rid of what didn’t. 

Ceylon is an old name for Sri Lanka, where a few farms that we source some of the natural ingredients used in the products are located.  

“Men with pigmented skin… [are] the most underserved community of individuals in dermatological health.“

“Men with pigmented skin… [are] the most underserved community of individuals in dermatological health.“

Globetrotter Lab: What is Ceylon's philosophy as a brand? And what is your goal in creating Ceylon? 
Patrick Boateng II & Blake Rascoe: We exist to bring safe, simple, and effective skincare to men of color. We hope to build an inclusive culture around self-care and men’s health. 
 

Globetrotter Lab: Who are you referring to when you say that Ceylon is made for "men of color"? Would the products work for East Asian men and brown-skinned Asian men? 
Patrick Boateng II & Blake Rascoe: When we say men of color, we mean men with pigmented skin (skin of color), which includes those of African, Asian, Latin, Native, and Pacific Islander descent. Overall, this is the most underserved community of individuals in dermatological health (as well as healthcare overall) and our mission is to bridge that gap. Yes! Our products definitely work well for East Asian men and brown-skinned Asian men.  

We don’t believe there is a lot of misinformation directly provided by other brands, simply because they don’t even think of men of color. 

 

Globetrotter Lab: What do men of color need exactly that most skincare brands cannot provide? And do you think men of color are already aware of this, or is there a major misinformation that you wish to inform people about? 
Patrick Boateng II & Blake Rascoe: From our perspective, most skincare brands can’t provide men of color with two critical things: First is safe and effective skincare that can actually help treat the conditions that they disproportionately face. These conditions include acne scarring, ingrown hairs, razor burn, hyperpigmentation, and eczema. Most products available don’t specifically address these skin issues, frequently have harmful side-effects, and often end up making skin problems worse. 

Second is an opportunity to learn about self care and grooming in a safe, non-judgmental environment with an emphasis on improving overall health and wellness. 

In conversation with many men of color, we’ve found an acute awareness of the lack of brands catered to us. At the same time, we don’t believe there is a lot of misinformation directly provided by other brands, simply because they don’t even think of men of color. 

Globetrotter Lab: What's in the future for Ceylon, then? 
Patrick Boateng II & Blake Rascoe: For the foreseeable future, we’ll be focused on learning from our quickly growing community of customers and finding new opportunities to better serve them.