When Kenya-born esthetician Lily Njoroge started her skin-care blog, Cave of Beauty, in 2015, being a pioneer of #SkinCareTwitter and partnering with major brands like CeraVe wasn’t exactly on her agenda. Cave of Beauty—a name she came up with when she was 8 years old, while her mom was doing her hair—was all about documenting her battle with eczema and finding products that would soothe it. She’s since used her Twitter account to educate her community about which products and treatments truly work, especially for skin of color. Now, Njoroge serves as the head of education at the cult-favorite skin-care brand Topicals. And in July 2020, she opened her own acne clinic in Brooklyn called Skin Wins, where she’s continuing her mission to help people achieve their best possible skin.
The clinic not only specializes in acne, but it is also the first Black-owned psychodermatology clinic in the country, treating skin while simultaneously considering its connection to mental health. “When our mental health is suffering, our skin suffers,” Njoroge says. “And the opposite has also been researched and found to be true.” Next month, Njoroge will be onboarding her father, a psychiatrist, to work from the Skin Wins office. “I’m really big on treating people holistically, and focusing on every part of their health that could be impacting their skin,” she says. “Any sort of prescriptions that our patients need for their mental health, they will be able to access at Skin Wins, along with getting their skin treated.”
When it comes to skin treatments, Skin Wins offers hydrafacials, dermaplaning, microneedling, and chemical peels. But, Njoroge notes, they won’t have facial steaming. “Steam causes inflammation due to the heat and its dehydrating impact on the skin,” Njoroge says. “While the brief contact during a facial will not cause long-term damage, our ethos is to solely perform treatments that are entirely beneficial to the skin from beginning to completion.”
But perhaps most inspiring is that Skin Wins provides its services free of charge to all transgender people of color with help from a Topicals sponsorship and in-house esthetician Bryce Anthony. “I really started this because I know that many trans people are going through hormone replacement therapy, which ultimately impacts your skin,” Njoroge says. “It was really important to me to make sure that, while trans people are experiencing these changes, that they’re also being affirmed amidst those changes and not left dealing with skin issues on their own, and not gaslighted or dismissed. On top of this, trans people of color are facing race-based trauma daily, and I want them to be able to come somewhere where they feel seen and understood.”