Topicals: The inclusive beauty brand that won Gen Z

It takes a lot to win over Gen Z. But skincare brand Topicals, aimed at chronic skin conditions, has done exactly that with an inclusive, innovative approach.

When Olamide Olowe decided to launch a skincare brand aimed at chronic skin conditions, like eczema and hyperpigmentation, she was met with plenty of scepticism.

“I had a lot of people saying, ‘How are you going to make chronic skincare cool? [People would say] ‘People don’t want to talk about this. It’s really shameful.”

People would say '‘People don’t want to talk about this. It’s really shameful."

- Olamide Olowe, Topicals co-founder

A few short years later, Olowe and Topicals, the brand she co-founded, has definitively proved her critics wrong. Topicals has raised more than $2m in funding, and in March 2021 it launched in Sephora – and promptly sold out in 48 hours. Meanwhile, Olowe herself was recently included in Forbes 30 Under 30 list for retail and e-commerce. 

Olowe also features in Afterpay’s Make it your way series, which celebrates business owners who are forging their own path and building innovative businesses that reflect their personal values and passions.

Make it expert

The concept for Topicals was inspired by Olowe’s own personal experiences. Growing up, the 24 year old struggled with skin conditions including boils and in-grown hairs. “I vividly remember being so embarrassed and not wanting to put on a swimsuit in summer,” she recalls. “It was very painful and very visible."

From, the outset she was determined to make a difference to anyone struggling with skin conditions and only use ingredients that were scientifically proven.

Make it compassionate

Not only that, but Topicals aims to transform the way people feel about their skin through mental health advocacy.

“A lot of times, with skin conditions, you’re not just managing the discomfort that comes with the skin condition…but also sometimes having to deal with the shame or the embarrassment [that goes with it].

I grew up thinking that there was such a thing as “perfect” skin.

- Olamide Olowe, Topicals co-founder

“I grew up thinking that there was such a thing as “perfect” skin,” adds Olowe, who is passionate about changing the narrative around skin and partnering with mental health organisations. “We’ve donated around $50,000 to mental health organizations so far.” 

Make it courageous

As a young African-American woman, Olowe is conscious that she faced challenges that other entrepreneurs haven’t had to deal with. “For example, raising capital was very difficult– investing is really about who you know, and if you don’t have access to networks, people aren’t as inviting. So, getting the capital and resources can take a little bit longer and it can be a little bit harder to get.”

She is also passionate about reaching under-served communities. “We’re a very customer and community centric-driven brand. We spend a lot of time listening to our customers.”

Make it with Afterpay

Those customers tend to be Gen Z and Millennial beauty lovers – the so-called “Skin-tellectuals” who, have grown up on the internet and who are famously savvy about beauty products and their ingredients.

Olowe believes that buy-now-pay-later services are critical for reaching younger consumers, and she and Topicals partnered with Afterpay early on. “Not having Buy Now Pay Later, is [similar to] not having credit card processing, back in the day.”

Not having Buy Now Pay Later, is [similar to] not having credit card processing, back in the day.

- Olamide Olowe, Topicals co-founder

As a business owner, she says that Afterpay is important for new and indie brands. “As a business owner, you’re always trying to get customers to make that first purchase – and shop with you for the first time – and Afterpay helps with that because [it lowers the barriers to entry and] customers can break up payments.” 

For a brand like Topicals, which places a premium on inclusivity and accessibility, offering a platform like Afterpay to make products more accessible was a natural fit. 

“To know that so many people I’ve never met are now using [our] products and getting results from it… for any entrepreneur, that’s your fuel.

Partner with Afterpay now

All references to any registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Afterpay does not endorse or recommend any one particular supplier and the information provided is for educational purposes only.


Back to access