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How I created an inclusive skincare line after losing my livelihood in the pandemic

Emilia Makosa set up her business Emeilleurq during the pandemic.

At the start of the year, Emilia Makosa owned a successful short term corporate rental business, earning around £6,000 a month. But when the lockdown was announced work dried up due to cancellations and refunds. Within weeks she not only lost her income, but she also faced potentially losing a business she had built for six years.

Faced with the heartache of losing everything she had worked for she turned her attention to the skincare industry.

Using her own experience

As a teenager, Emilia suffered from terrible acne. When she was 18 it disappeared, but when she was 33 she experienced what she describes as ‘the worst acne ever’ brought on by stress, which had a huge impact on her skin.

She said: “Being a businesswoman and mother means you go through stressful periods quite often so for me something as small as meeting a tight deadline could cause a flare-up of acne on my cheeks so you can imagine the severity of a flare-up I experienced in March.”

She started a long, expensive and sometimes painful journey to find a product that would effectively treat the acne and resulting hyperpigmentation. Her search led to her trying many different products, both natural and medicinal, and sometimes a combination of both.

Creating an inclusive skincare range

It wasn’t until after a lot of trial and error, and help from a private dermatologist, that Emilia discovered her skin responded better to medicinal and clinical skincare products which were not only extremely expensive, they weren’t created specifically for black skin as some moisturisers would leave her with an ashy hue within an hour of application. Some clinical products were just too strong, making her hyperpigmentation worse. She didn’t feel included as a consumer.

Seeing a huge gap in the market by realising that she wasn’t alone, Emilia set about creating an affordable range of skincare products using ingredients that are effective and safely formulated to brighten and clear dark and sensitive skin.

The products contain clinically proven, effective ingredients and complexes that provide visible improvements in the appearance of dark skin, answering the call of all black women struggling with hyperpigmentation, and feeling as if there’s no brand that caters to them too, leaving them no choice but to use products which ‘whiten’ the skin or buying over the counter medical grade peels in an effort to have clear skin.

Better skincare

Explaining the reason behind her choice of business name, Emilia says: “Meilleurq is a French word that means ‘better’ or ‘best’ and that’s what our brand represents. Better skincare, with the best ingredients possible.

“The main skin concern among women of colour is hyperpigmentation because of the accumulation of melanin. When developing key ingredients for our skincare range, we wanted to include potent, but safe, ingredients that brighten dark skin without ‘whitening’ it.”

inclusive skincare

When faced with adversity, Emilia picked herself up, dusted herself down and came out on top. Her first taste of the entrepreneurial life came when she was just eight years old living in her native South Africa when together with a friend she sold lemonade to her neighbours. It was this spirit that led Emilia to Emeilleurq.

Despite not officially launching until next month, Emeilleurq has already generated more than £5,000 of pre-sales and gained rave reviews during the pre-launch trial phase.

Emeilleurq is a premium skincare and lifestyle brand with 13 products, ranging from cleansers and toners, to spot treatments and an intensive moisturiser. The range will be released online from 20 August 2020 at

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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