From Africa, With Love: Meet Charis Udeh of KYALLI Natural Skincare

From Africa, With Love: Meet Charis Udeh of KYALLI Natural Skincare

Combining its founder’s African heritage with organic, botanical ingredients from around the world, KYALLI creates natural skincare products that really perform. We chat with Charis Udeh about luminosity, life as an entrepreneur and why the beauty industry needs diversity.

by nature. Backed by science. Spirited by heritage.
That’s the tagline of KYALLI, a skincare brand that is scouting out the
world’s finest natural ingredients – from Turkey,
Egypt, Ghana,
Russian Siberia and beyond – and putting them into its
high-performing, synthetic-chemical-free products.

Founder Charis Udeh, a former management consultant and
accidental entrepreneur, draws on her travel experiences and
Nigerian heritage when concocting her formulas. Here, she takes us
on her journey that turned a lifelong passion and generations of
knowledge into a business.

Natural luminosity and life as an entrepreneur: in conversation
with Charis Udeh

What inspired your approach to skincare?

I am from a family of formulators. My maternal grandmother and
great-aunts created products using potent African herbs. I have
always been a product junkie, too. I experienced hormonal acne from
the age of 13 and, when I moved to London at 16, my skin became dehydrated, dry and
itchy, especially in winter. I felt dissatisfied with the products
offered – even those by luxury brands – and found that colleagues,
friends and family had similar issues. People needed products that
made a real difference, not ones filled with texturisers and
fillers that deliver little value.

How did KYALLI come about?

I started formulating my own products in autumn 2010. My mother
passed on remedies given to her by her mother and soon we were in
the kitchen together, creating products using natural, organic,
phytoactive ingredients. The results were phenomenal.

For 10 years, I created products for use by myself, friends and
family, though I had no motivation to start a brand; I had a
flourishing career as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
Yet the demand kept increasing. I saw the gap in the market and I
knew I had outstanding formulas. So, I invested a lot of time,
resources and effort teaming up with experts to create products
that solve real problems.

Tell us about the pivot between consulting and beauty

There are many similarities between consulting and
entrepreneurship. When I joined Ernst & Young, people would ask
me: “What do you actually do?” I’d respond: “I am a doctor for
businesses. I help sick ones get better.” It was an analogy people

Like the beauty industry, consulting exists to solve problems.
As an entrepreneur, I make products to help solve similar issues to
the ones I experienced as a teen – that is the heart of my
business. Everything I learnt in the professional services industry
is being applied in KYALLI today.

Why was it important for you to create a natural beauty

I was initially sceptical about the power of nature; I thought
these ingredients needed to be supplemented with other things to
help people look and feel luminous. This couldn’t be further from
the truth. Just like every other organ within our body, our skin
needs adequate nourishment to function optimally. When you’re
sourcing food to improve your health and wellbeing, you seek the
best on the market. In most cases, this will be fresh, natural and
organic produce. It’s the same for skin and body care.

But that’s not all. Synthetic chemical ingredients can be
harmful to our bodies, so KYALLI’s products are free from manmade
ingredients. It was a very easy decision to create a safe, honest,
transparent and all-natural line.

How has travel influenced your approach to beauty?

My first experience with natural beauty and travel was as a
child. Owing to my father’s job, we lived all over Nigeria. While
we were in Sokoto in Northern Nigeria, he became great friends with
the Sultan of Sokoto. I spent a lot of time at the palace, where it
was common practice to see the queens and princesses use the oils
and liquid extracts from the yakuwa plant for skincare and internal
consumption. To this day, their skin is among the most flawless and
luminous I have come across in my life. When I started creating my
own products, I made sure to use yakuwa.

My research didn’t stop there. Every year, my friends and I
travel to a different country to learn about people and cultures.
During these trips, everyone had a spot on the itinerary to “do
what they wanted” – mine was always to visit a spa. I’ve always
been curious about beauty and wellness practices across the world.
I’d visit masseuses with beautiful pots of oils and creams made
with natural ingredients, and ask about their therapeutic and
healing properties.

The ingredients in your products were sourced across the world,
including from Turkey, Egypt, Ghana and Russian Siberia. How did
such diversity come about?

As a Nigerian raised in London, I was raised to accept diversity
and difference. When it comes to beauty, there are several common
issues: dry skin, eczema, stretch marks, hyperpigmentation,
wrinkles – the list goes on. Such issues are faced regardless of
race, skin tone, sex or even geographical location. During my
travels, I saw that people had secrets and rituals they used,
passed on from generation to generation. We use lots of ingredients
from Africa in our products, but African ingredients can’t solve
all the problems people face – so we are brave enough to reach out
to other countries to harness the powers of their indigenous
plants. Our expert blend of the world’s finest ingredients is what
really makes KYALLI’s formulas stand out.

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