In the last three years – that is, if we’re ignoring the year of the Coronavirus 2020 – BtoB Events Ltd has held what can arguably be described as one of Africa’s biggest beauty exhibitions. Dubbed the Beauty West Africa Exhibition, this year’s edition took place from November 17-19 at the Landmark Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos.
I did not know it at the time, but I ticked all the boxes of one of the groups the exhibition targeted. Not one to be obsessed with the latest beauty trends, I, like any other person, want to look as good as I can at every point in time. Unfortunately, hormonal acne (the worst!), hyperpigmentation, and scars from the stubborn acne that will not go away without a fight keep getting in the way, and, as I prepared to attend the event, I discovered that the Benzoyl Peroxide ointment that was meant to deal with my acne had worked overtime and burnt the left half of my face.
The horrific burn was as symbolic as it was embarrassing. It was the physical representation of my struggles in the last year with finding the right products to use for my kind of skin and its challenges. As I walked around interacting with exhibitors, I quickly realised two facts: first, I was not alone. And secondly, people like me were part of the reasons why the Beauty West Africa Exhibition was created – to link stakeholders and businesses in the African beauty industry to the people who need their solutions the most.
While exhibitors came from all over the continent to showcase products and services that largely fell into the cosmetics, haircare and aesthetic beauty range, it was the skincare/wellness niche that had the most representation, a situation that is in line with trends that dominated 2020 and have spilt over into this year.
We still love our makeup and want our hair extensions, but there is a growing need to take good care of the skin and scalp underneath these additions. In the past, we would have turned to well-known international brands for help, but now, after borders were shut, we were left with no choice but to search closer to home for solutions that work.
The conference on the other hand covered a wider range of subjects. From Beauty Franchise and Distribution: International Brands available in Nigeria to Beauty Brands and Influencer Marketing; Beauty Retail Channels in Nigeria; The Rise of A beauty: Owning the Narrative and, Seeking Professional Advice: Meet the Experts, the topics focused more on the business of beauty. Experts like Mrs Kudi Fashola of Kuddy Cosmetics, Ore Runsewe of Arami Essentials, Vienne Odofin of Distrimag Global and Psalmuel Josephs of the Aesthetic Clinic did an excellent job informing and enlightening. For quite a number of visitors, however, the knowledge they sought was at the booths. And they were not disappointed.
Like me. I had set out simply to attend the exhibition and conference, but after in-depth discussions with the CEOs of Timoje by Risi and Skinology at their booths – both of whom were drawn to me by the huge black mark on the left side of my face – I went back home with whipped shea butter from the former and papaya toner from the latter. I replaced my regular moisturiser and toner with both products, and by the next morning, my face was about 95 per cent free of the burn. Don’t just ask me for proof: I completely forgot to take before and after pictures in my excitement.
I had asked Ms Risi why she thought using locally-made products or products created by Africans for Africans was important and why she believed it was more effective than using those created in other continents for a mass market. She explained that the former has been tailored specifically to address the concerns the African skin is likely to face in and out of its natural environment, unlike formulations from other parts of the world that may or may not work for a skin exposed to our kind of weather.
Mrs Lilian Arigbodi of Skinology agrees. Over-the-counter (OTC) products are good, she told me, but if you want better results as an African for your skin, it is best to work with experts with a knowledge of your skin type who can correctly prescribe products tailored to address your peculiarities.
The 2021 Beauty West Africa Exhibition and Conference has ended, but it was definitely a rewarding experience for everyone who attended, especially if like me, they went home with solutions that revamped their beauty regimen, or like Timoje by Risi, they were nearly sold out on day one.