In Dec 2017, Theo Mothoa-Frendo set up a pop-up store in Sandton City and invited black women to come and buy her newly created range of skin products, Uso by African Dermal Science. We have one of our writers currently trying the entire range and we will share the review once she’s been using the products for at least 5 weeks straight. In the meantime, we had some questions: who is Theo and what is Uso? You know we found out…
TMP: What is your professional background?
Theo: I trained as a Medical Doctor and I am a Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research specialist with 17 years’ experience in the Medical field. I spent 9 years with Swiss head-quartered Roche Pharmaceuticals where I gained experience in various areas including Medical Affairs, Clinical Research, Health Economics and Product launches and as a Medical Director for Sub-Saharan Africa operations. I left Roche to pursue an MBA with GIBS and graduated in 2017. I used the academic platform to develop the initial building blocks of what is now Uso by African Dermal Science. I am also a Fellow of the Archbishop Tutu African Leadership Fellowship, which has played a key role in broadening my perspective on issues affecting us on the African Continent and how we can all play a role towards its development
My passion lies in researching, developing and introducing into market world-class solutions specifically for the unmet needs of us Africans. Uso by African Dermal Science is truly the intersection of this passion and a life-long love for radiant, healthy skin. We have developed a world-class skin care product, formulated specifically for darker melanin-rich skin tones exposed to harsh African climatic conditions.
TMP: Have you always known that you’re an entrepreneur?
Theo: Yes. I have never been comfortable with sitting back because everywhere you look, you see challenges and with challenges lie opportunities. Creating a sustainable business has always been my life-long dream. All my various professional experiences on the African continent, including running a part-time hairdressing business while in Medical School, have been in preparation for the right entrepreneurial venture.
TMP: What sparked the idea of creating a complete skin care range?
I have always had a keen interest in Skincare and the science behind various formulations. My Mom, who is an avid skincare product user, introduced me to skincare regimens at a young age and I have pretty much tried most brands in the market. However, I grew frustrated that every product I was using was not made specifically to deal with the specific skin concerns I experience as a person of darker skin tone and living in the harsh African climate. My bathroom cabinet was dominated by foreign skin care brands made primarily for Caucasian skin and those living in the Northern Hemisphere climate. Coming from a science background, I started researching different ingredients and formulations and importantly, found great partners in Marketing and Advertising Expert, Kagiso Musi, Skincare expert Ayesha Raja and a renowned team of Skincare Scientists to develop and launch into market Uso by African Dermal Science.
TMP: So take us through the range of products and tell us how you personally use them.
Theo: The range comprises of six products and these are clearly numbered for ease of use. In the morning and evening, I start with cleansing my face with the 01 Hydro-active Cleanser, which doesn’t strip the skin of its natural oils but leaves it hydrated and brighter. This is followed by 02 Cellular Active Essence, which I call my “Skin Booster”. It is a combination Toner and liquid serum. It nourishes and prepares the skin for subsequent treatments and it is definitely one of my favorite products in the range. In the morning I follow with the 05 Active Day Cream with SPF 30, which moisturizes my skin and protects it from the no.1 cause of ageing: sun exposure. It does so without the tell-tale signs of most sunscreens for those of us with darker tones- it doesn’t grey, streak or whiten the skin. Like most South Africans, I suffer from seasonal dryness because of our dry climate. I therefore use Uso 06 Active All Day Mist to instantly hydrate, boost radiance and soothe skin, wherever I go.
In the evening, after cleansing with Uso 01 and using the 02 Cellular active Essence, I follow with the more intensive treatment products. I apply the 03 Targeted Hyperpigmentation Rx which tackles uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation- and after a few minutes, I apply the 04 Active Anti-Ageing Serum which intensely hydrates and rejuvenates my skin overnight.
I have been using Uso products exclusively since the R&D phase two years ago and I must say, have never been more pleased with my skin. Hydrated, improved quality, with that #UsoGlow! We have also received great feedback from our clients who have been using the products since we launched in November last year and we are very pleased.
TMP: How is Uso different from any of the other products on the market also promising to get rid of pigmentation?
Uso by African Dermal Science is South Africa’s 1st answer to a thoroughly researched, quality, science driven, locally manufactured quality skincare range specifically formulated to address the skincare concerns of us with darker skin tones and living under the harsh African climate.
Our range is formulated to address uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, seasonal dryness and extreme oiliness, all of which are the main problems we experience as African women. Women with lighter skin tones or of Caucasian origin face challenges related to wrinkling and therefore many international brands are formulated to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, which is not a major problem for us African women.
The foundation of Uso is the presence of potent active ingredients in all our products including in addition to the unique to Uso CCP Complex of Centella, Chamomile and Provitamin B5. Rich in anti-oxidants, hydrating technologies, peptides and vitamins to hydrate, rejuvenate and slow down the effects of ageing. The science inside each bottle is developed with a single goal in mind, to deliver radiant skin that reflects the beauty of science for African Skin.
Uso has been developed for us, by us, in South Africa, right here in the African continent. The product name takes its meaning from the word ‘face’ in kiSwahili and Ubuso in isiZulu. A celebration of African and who we are is the bedrock of our products.
TMP: What is a “good skin” tip that you swear by?
Theo: Hydration, hydration, hydration. Consistent use of quality skincare, optimal skin hydration, at least 8hours sleep, eating a healthy diet and adequate exercise all equal to healthy, youthful, radiant skin.
TMP: Can the products be used in conjunction with other brands?
Yes, but we always advise that you read precautions for all products and brands before use.
TMP: Is the range age specific?
No. All adult females and males can use the products.
TMP: If someone wants to try just one of the products from the range to see if they should buy the rest, which would you recommend, to test the waters?
It would be the 05 Day cream with SPF 30. It is both an anti-ageing day cream and a SPF 30 Sun protector but without greying, whitening and streaking on the skin, like most sunscreens do on darker skin. It effectively protects the skin against damaging UVA and UVB rays while it hydrates, rejuvenates and slows down the effects of sun damage. This is one of the most popular products in our range.
TMP: Where can people buy Uso and any future plans you’d like to share with us?
Currently Uso products can be purchased on our online store: www.uso.africa and we deliver nationwide. We also host pop-ups and all updates can be found on our Facebook and Instagram pages: Uso by African Dermal Science. We are working on making the product available to all nationally through retail stores.