Kenya’s Uncover taps into African skincare market


In Africa, a rapidly growing demand for beauty and personal care products is only thwarted by a gap in the offerings available to consumers. Fake cosmetics and skin-whitening products pose risks to consumers, and the global brands imported to the continent are often expensive and not tailored to the needs of black skin.

Uncover, a startup founded by three women in Kenya in 2020, aims to address this issue. According to Sneha Mehta, the CEO and co-founder of the company, Uncover has developed a range of cosmetics specifically designed for African women. Each product has undergone testing by focus groups in Kenya or Nigeria, where the startup is currently active, increasing the likelihood of creating products that resonate with the African market.

For instance, Uncover’s best-selling product is sunscreen. African women have been increasingly seeking sunscreen, but they often complain about it leaving a white residue on their skin. Uncover has responded by formulating a hydrating, fast-absorbing sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white layer on the skin.

Uncover’s products embrace African identity by using ingredients sourced from the continent. Their sunscreen includes aloe vera, the vitamin C serum incorporates baobab, and the toner features rooibos leaf extract. Currently, Uncover’s products are manufactured in South Korean laboratories, but the company wants to manufacture the products in Africa over the next decade.

Africa’s beauty and personal care market is projected to grow by more than $5 billion from 2021 to 2026. This growth has attracted global giants like L’Oréal and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty to the African market. Multinational brands may have a strong presence on the continent, but they often lack products tailored to African skin and climate.

Urbanisation and a youthful population are key drivers of the booming African beauty market. However, there remains a significant knowledge gap.. Women aspire to engage in skincare, beauty, and cosmetics but often struggle to find the right products and information. Uncover aims to address this gap through digital tools on its website and engaging social content. Consumers can book virtual consultations with an in-house aesthetician, and there’s a free skin quiz on the site that recommends products and nutrition tips based on a few questions.

Over the next two to five years, the startup plans to expand into other countries like South Africa and Ghana with the goal of becoming a pan-African brand. Their long-term mission is to redefine beauty standards across the continent, ensuring that everyone, regardless of skin type or color, loves the skin they’re in.



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