After years working in the beauty industry with some of the world’s biggest brands, Clare Eluka was still having issues with her allergies and a hard time finding products that would suit her skin type and tone. The need for better beauty products drove her from the beauty counter to university and on to a Doctorate in Biochemistry. Africa Fashion was lucky enough to meet with Dr Clare Eluka at the WOW Beauty event in London. Her story is truly inspirational.
Clare is the creator of Premae, a range of beauty products that pays specific attention to the challenges of having sensitive black skin. Her work in this field was recognised by Allergy UK back in 2012 and she has continued to develop her products from there. Her fans include one of the UK’s most famous singing talents, Beverley Knight, OBE – who was wearing Premae when Prince Harry kissed her cheek at a premier in December!
“Everything uses recyclable packaging, ethically sourced ingredients and is produced and distributed from Premae in the UK to guarantee quality and affordable prices”, Clare explained. “All of our ingredients are certified 100% vegan and PETA approved”.
Her background is Nigerian, Igbo specifically, and she’s had a lifelong passion for fashion and beauty.
Early into her career, Clare discovered that her particular combination of skin tone and sensitivity meant that very few products on the market were suitable for her daily regime. Instead of being limited by this issue, she took the bold step of studying for a Ph.D., creating her own product ranges and making them available to a global market. Her education may be broad, but she’s highly focused when it comes to choosing ‘starting points’ for her formulas.
“Where possible, I use traditional concepts and ingredients that have been known in Africa for hundreds of years”.
“When you have advanced knowledge of the underlying chemistry that makes natural ingredients effective, you are able to target specific issues with your processes”.
Clare told us that, initially, she sold her products through a general make up store in Whiteley’s in the centre of London, “I quickly found that clients with sensitive skin and allergies needed more time & information to make the right choice. That’s when I opened my specialist clinic in Harley Street“.
We asked if she had any ‘guiding principals’.
“From a biochemistry point of view, most allergies have an acidic cause, so keeping products above pH6 is crucial”, she explained. “From a personal principals point of view, I believe that everyone has a divine right to look good – to be the best version of you that you can be”.
“I try to cater for as many skin shades as possible”.
“My range already catered for most shades, but I am pleased to announce that we recently added ’16’. This is our darkest shade yet and suitable for East African skin. It’s beyond MAC NW55 or Bobbi Espresso and perfect for sensitive skin”.
For professional make up artists, Premae no offers a special kit that includes all 16 shades for just £32.
All products have their own version of the ‘secret sauce’ whose recipe cannot be revealed, but we did ask if she could share any secrets at all.
“There is an oil extract from the underside of a grape that is amazing on sensitive skin”, she told us. “It is silicon like, but 100% natural. Products that use this ingredient are easy to apply and they create the perfect foundation for the rest of your make up – protecting the skin and providing a perfect surface”.
“That grapeseed oil is the basis for my most popular product”, said Clare. “Superfirm Trioomph Serum+ is a lightweight anti-ageing, probiotic liquid that can be used after you remove your make up or before you apply it. It retouches uneven skin, fills in lines and crows feet and retains moisture in the skin”.
“Normally, if you see a product with those features in the high street, then it will include perfume, petroleum, lanolin, steroids and one or more of the most common allergens”, she explained. “This super serum is perfect for delicate skin – but it’s still very effective”.
Dr Clare Eluka regularly travels to the countries which supply her ingredients. Not content with just buying natural products from the existing suppliers, she also supports charitable projects that help villagers to produce the necessary minerals, in order to sell the ingredients themselves.
“When you help set up a new production zone within a village, its so satisfying”, she said. “The look on the faces of the people when they realise that they can create something that the market needs – and that customers will pay a realistic amount for that product. It’s incredible. It gives you such a good feeling inside when you enable these villagers. I wish I had more time to help”.
Africa Fashion loves Dr Clare Eluka’s story. Working in beauty, experiencing a very real problem, then completing years of study in order to solve the issue. Also, the cup cakes on offer were amazing.