When Roger Dupé began working as a model at 19, he left his hometown near Stockholm and lived in all the fashion capitals: Milan, Paris, New York, London. As he started traveling, his mom, who is originally from Togo, asked him to bring back beauty products for her because nothing sold in Scandinavia was developed for her darker skin and hair texture. That, coupled with lack of diversity he witnessed on set (“I never shot with a black photographer; and makeup artists couldn’t handle the models’ hair textures.”), began a process of speaking up and thinking about what he could create to make an impact.
“Fashion is supposed to reflect the society we’re living in but I started to question, why doesn’t it do that?” he says. “How can I translate everything I’ve learned to showcase that diversity and inclusivity can sell, and be a voice for minority people and make something that can be beautiful as well?”
The result is Melyon, a straightforward and chic skin care line with a studied aesthetic that marries West African culture with Scandinavian minimalist design. “A lot of people can relate to this duality,” he says. “I want to express that in my products.” The distinctively-shaped recyclable glass bottles with bulbous tops take inspiration from the baobab tree, with its high canopy and thick water-storing trunk. The oil inside is prized for its mineral and vitamin content, and it creates the base for Melyon’s four genderless, vegan face care formulas. They are meant for everyone, but developed first and foremost for darker skin in mind.
“It’s hard to find a line that’s been thinking about you from the start,” he says. To address the needs of melanin-rich skin, there is a mix of tried-and-true ingredients like niacinamide and vitamin c for hyperpigmentation, salicylic acid for ingrown hairs, and hyaluronic acid for hydration, with natural extracts like broccoli and papaya enzymes in his three step regimen, which includes a Milk Cleanser; a Detox Serum to keep hydration in skin and give a natural glow without making skin greasy, and a Day Cream or Night Cream, which is made with retinol. “You don’t need 13 steps to have healthy, good looking skin,” says Dupé. “Everything goes so fast, I wanted this to be simple and smooth. It’s not supposed to be complicated.”