never make eye contact
How I created a beauty brand on my morning commute
8 January, 2020 by
Stephanie Effiom Idowu

This goes out to everyone who's ever caught the 07:08 Northern Line train going Southbound from Brent Cross. I'm sorry if you were ever unnerved by my behaviour. If it's any consolation, it was for the greater good...

Odoo • A picture with a caption

T H E   U N S P O K E N   R U L E

I started Mayen when I lived in London. I used the tube to commute to my day-and-sometimes-night job (more on that later). Over time, I learnt that "never make eye contact" is the unspoken rule most Londoners agree to abide by to safeguard against unnecessary social interaction.

Being in one of the world's most diverse cities, I found that a good way to pass time was to stare at people and guess their heritage. This had to be done within one-and-three-quarter seconds - Any longer, and they'd sense they were being stared at, we'd make eye contact, and then be forced to feign sudden interest in nasal spray ads until either of us got off the train.

The best part of my creepy little game was observing the wondrous and beautifully intricate colours on people's skin. As an artist, I've always had an appetite for colour, so I grew fascinated by complexion. I spent the next couple of years* studying human skin pigmentation and discovered the five elements that compose complexion.

T H E    S H A D E S

It wasn't until I missed the flight for my honeymoon (more on that later) that I began to think of  creating a beauty brand.  I studied my own complexion axes and created a foundation in my perfect shade. I knew I had to share it. I wanted to create make-up for others that harnessed the delicately unique balance of colour in complexion. I wanted to create a foundation range with real colours from real people with enough shades for everybody to find their match.

After a very unhealthy period of work-life imbalance, I finally completed a range of 360 shades. Yep. Three-hundred-and-sixty Foundation shades. To my dismay, it wasn't long before I realised that 360 shades simply wasn't enough for everybody to find their match. Despite having well over 10 times more shades than most foundation ranges, there were still gaps that meant that some people would be left out.

This was a problem because I started Mayen to help people feel good, like I did when i tried my first customised make-up. I felt good Not in a physical sense, but on a deeper level, within myself. I know first-hand how utterly deflating it can be to walk past a beauty counter and not see a single product to suit your skin tone. for years, this fuelled a negative voice that insidiously ate at my self-worth. There was absolutely no way I was going to give that negative voice a platform in Mayen by having a limited shade range. 

T H E   S O L U T I O N

Like most other problems, the answer to mine lay within the problem itself. I realised that, however you look at it, creating a range of complexion shades is an attempt to standardise individuality. The colourful interplay of a person's complexion is so infinitely detailed that an off-the-shelf solution could never do justice to it. The perfect shade i had made for myself those months ago was perfect because I made it specifically for me.

I knew in that moment that custom formulation was the only way to guarantee a uniquely uplifting make-up experience for everybody. So I got to work developing ComplexioniD™, an algorithm that studies your skin to reveal your 5 complexion axes and formulate custom make-up in colours perfect for your complexion. Everything about ComplexioniD™ is designed to elevate your wellbeing and make you feel incredible. Its purpose is to transform your make up routine into a sublime self-affirming experience.  It's more than custom make-up. It is the beginning of a beautiful journey of self love.


*Btw, I didn't spend two years on the tube. I went home and stuff.
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