In lieu of attending medical school, they teamed up to create Topicals in the hopes of "transforming the way people feel about skin" with products that treat skin-care as part of a self-care ritual, putting less focus on achieving "perfect" skin and more of an onus on having what they call "funner flare-ups".
The 23-year-olds are co-founders of Topicals, a medicated skin-care brand that offers customers clinically-tested, dermatologist-approved products targeting specific skin conditions like eczema, hyperpigmentation, psoriasis, and more.
As two people with skin conditions — Teng with severe eczema and Olowe with post-barbae folliculitis — the founders often had trouble finding products that not only got the job done, but also made taking care of their skin feel less like a burden and more like fun.
"People with chronic skin conditions are two to six times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, so we partner with and donate to mental health organizations like Therapy for Black Girls, Sad Girls Club, and the JED Foundation".
Additionally, though mental health may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about skin care, Topicals is showing customers through its initiatives that the two are more connected than we think.
At the moment, Topicals offers two products: Like Butter, a hydrating face mask formulated to soothe dry, sensitive skin; and Faded, a brightening gel created to even out skin tones.
In the beginning, Claudia Teng and Olamide Olowe’s skin-care brand had a March 2020 launch date — but then COVID-19 hit, and the disruption caused by the fallout of the pandemic ultimately delayed their plans.
On top of that, the roommates and former pre-med students both felt like many brands in the skin-care industry were promoting an often-unattainable standard of beauty that idealizes clear skin.