Javon Ford Talks Inclusivity in Beauty & Cosmetic Chemistry

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Javon Ford has become well-known as the internet’s favorite beauty myth-buster, but that wasn’t always his plan for his career. “Pretty much the entire maternal side of my family has some sort of science, technology, engineering, math, or teaching background,” Ford tells PS. “So I’ve always been passionate about science.” Still, Ford, who is a cosmetic chemist by trade, said he wasn’t introduced to the field until college.

“I wanted to major in chemistry with a minor in music,” Ford says. “At that time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degree.” He simply knew he wanted to fuse his creativity with his line of work, so after a series of internships and one job offer post-grad, Ford started his own cosmetics company focused on diverse shade ranges. “It was called Éclat Naturals, and it was inspired by my time in the theatre doing plays,” Ford says. “There was still a lack of diversity in shade ranges even from professional brands — they simply weren’t catering to darker skin tones.” This motivated him to formulate theatrical makeup for Black and Brown skin specifically. He ran the company for three years before closing and eventually taking on a role contract manufacturing.

Those three years allowed Ford to get the experience he needed to climb the ranks as a cosmetic chemist, but during the COVID-19 lockdown, he was laid off. This ultimately led him to pursue his passion for screenwriting, which indirectly fueled his social media stardom. After being encouraged to make a TikTok about his Kickstarter campaign to fund his goal of creating a TV show, one of Ford’s videos on cosmetic chemistry went viral. He’s been a social media mainstay ever since.

As he’s continued his career in content creation, Ford has noticed glaring gaps in the beauty industry, particularly when it comes to skin of color. “Though I didn’t want to start my own company again, I noticed a wave of color-changing products becoming extremely popular, especially on TikTok,” Ford says. This technology is in no way new; in fact, color-changing “pH” formulas have been around since the ’30s. Still, Ford found that they still weren’t inclusive.

“I’d be playing with bromo-acid dyes, which is the technology used in a lot of these products, and realizes that the majority of them turned pink on the skin,” he says. Currently, many popular formulas on the market turn a cool-toned pink shade once they interact with heat, and the color isn’t always flattering for deep skin tones. Enter: Ford’s latest product offering, the Sun-Kissed Cheek Stain ($24).

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“Nobody has been using this age-old technology to benefit darker skin, so I thought that it would be cool to create a truly universally flattering orange-changing blush formula,” Ford says. Not only does this blush provide a peachy-orange flush for a more natural finish on any skin tone, but its also inclusive of different skin types and conditions. “It’s an oil-meets-gel consistency because I wanted it to glide onto every type of skin texture without sticking to and emphasizing lines or texture,” Ford says. “I’ve had people with mature and even acne-scarred skin test it, and it looks incredibly seamless on everyone.”

As if a direct response to how much people have been clamoring for a product like this, Ford’s blush is currently sold out. He believes this speaks to a larger issue within the cosmetics industry. “Lack of inclusivity in cosmetics starts with the vendors and the raw material suppliers,” Ford says. Additionally, cosmetic testing pools aren’t exactly diverse. A large portion of consumer testing is done on Asian and white skin and as a result, these communities are posited as a blank canvas on which all consumer testing can occur. This is why you end up with products that are ashy on dark skin or not truly “universally flattering” as they claim to be.

While Ford is well on his way to changing this landscape with his products, he does acknowledge that the cosmetic chemistry and beauty industry at large has work to do. “Lack of inclusivity is still affecting this industry, but I do think it’s getting better,” he says. “People are becoming more aware of it now than ever before, so I’m optimistic about the future.”

Ariel Baker is the assistant editor for POPSUGAR Beauty. Her areas of expertise include celebrity news, beauty trends, and product reviews. She has additional bylines with Essence and Forbes Vetted.

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