Jean Pierre has dedicated her professional life to promoting health and well-being. Specializing in skincare and hair removal, Pierre fuses her Jamaican roots with her medical background to create products made with all-natural ingredients that work for all skin types.
Pierre recognizes the importance of feeling good in one’s skin. The inspirational entrepreneur and founder of Obsidian Skin Care System and Jean Pierre Aesthetics and Spa Inc. sat down with Elixuer, and shared her expertise on all-things aesthetics, misconceptions in skincare, and how she has diversified the aesthetics market.
What has been the most enjoyable part of your journey thus far?
I would say it’s three parts. The first part is the ability to do what I want when I want, and how I want.
The second part is the chance to work with young adults. Parents bring their children to me from age 12. Working with teens who have skin problems — sometimes they’re flunking school, and the interaction with their peers is not what they want it to be. They become self-conscious and anti-social. I take care of their skin, [so] they integrate back with their peers, and their grades increase. For me, [that] is something. It’s the reason I left my nursing career at the top of the ladder to explore aesthetics and to care for my sensitive skin, and to help others struggling to find a solution for theirs.
The third part is when I came to laser hair removal and saw women who would not embrace me because they didn’t want their faces to touch anyone. They’d pull away, and people, especially in the Black community, [think] you’re too good to be hugged. It sends the wrong message. When they can bear it all and hug me and say, “You’re a miracle worker,” I feel I’m doing what I was supposed to do within this business. That’s my joy.
What are some misconceptions about Black skincare and beauty that you have helped to clarify with the Obsidian Skin Care System?
When I came into skincare, everybody thought [that] skin was skin — whatever colour it’s in. Then, I came to hear that my skin was extremely oily. Black skin reflects light and gives skin the appearance that it’s oilier than it is. So, when one goes into a department store to get a product — you’re Black, you’re oily, but the skin could be dehydrated — you’re given products to dry out the oil [and] you’re dehydrating the skin even more, [and] your skin problem becomes worse.
Another myth: Black skin is not sensitive, so you can use the harshest brush to do exfoliation — that also is not true because it’s one of the most sensitive. It’s resilient in one way, but very sensitive in the other way because you can develop keloids, which are disfiguring. You can develop scarring, untreatable at times, and hyperpigmentation, which is frustrating, particularly in women.
They also say it’s difficult to cleanse, so you must use harsh cleansers. That is also not true because, again, you can get that hyperpigmentation. You can see white companies trying to evolve with colour in cosmetics, going to different grades because there are different shades of Black. A lot of companies are jumping on the bandwagon, making a lot of money. Sometimes I think [it is] because of what I’ve put out there.
How does your background in nursing inform your practice as an aesthetician?
If I were not a nurse, I would not be here speaking with you today. My medical background has given me a significant edge on the market because I came in knowing anatomy and physiology, and [knowing] about my Black skin. I wanted to do it initially, just specializing in skincare for Black men and women. However, I soon realized I couldn’t do that because I can treat Black skin and all skin types.
My nursing [background] sets me apart because I don’t do one treatment. I don’t do an occasional treatment. I do treatments that dermatologists fail to do. When Damon Stoudamire walked into my spa, no one could help him. He came to Canada and went to several dermatologists [until] someone said, “Send him to Jean.”
As a businesswoman, you’ve also been intentional in empowering other Black men and women in the field of aesthetics. What is your advice for those just starting in their careers?
It’s easier now to advise about the aesthetics industry than before. When I started, people would ask me, what’s that? Now, everybody is doing aesthetics, but it’s a tough business. Entrepreneurs are born, not made. So, if you have the entrepreneurial gene, make sure that’s what you want to do [and that it’s] something you can do for nothing. If you’re Black, you may wish to specialize in Black skin, and that is very noble, but make sure that everybody else comes in, or you won’t survive.
You emphasize natural ingredients in your skincare products. What are some of your favourite ingredients?
I’m from Jamaica, [and] growing up with my mother and grandparents, they had bushes where they would pick for their benefits. I choose herbs from home to go into the skincare line to make it as natural as possible. Aloe vera is an excellent product in a skincare line, [same with] tea tree oil — it’s like a medicine cabinet in a bottle. Lemon [has] alpha hydroxy acid and [so does] grapefruit. There’s a lot of things that you can use in combination with other ingredients. A lot of times, I will custom blend these ingredients to produce a natural custom blend product.
Why do you feel everyone should use your product line?
My line is natural, and I have so many great results with my skincare on my Black clientele, [so] it’s great for everybody else. I remember being on a show, and they called me specifically to speak about Black skin and my products. After the show, many of my white clients called me — I sounded like I didn’t treat white skin. And [they asked] why did I leave them out? I said the program was geared toward me speaking about my products directly on how it affects Black skin. It is natural, it’s hypoallergenic, and it’s an evolving formulation. As new ingredients come on the market, I can incorporate them to make my product better. The evidence is there, with thousands of very satisfied clients who have been using Obsidian for over thirty years. Obsidian Skin Care does what it promises to do.
Ortheta Anan | Contributing Writer