Everything happened when New York-based cultural entrepreneur Jaé Joseph decided to create a platform for the Black and Brown community through The Black Apothecary Office, familiarly known as BAO Essentials. Created in a local New York lab, the skincare brand features four emblematic products with hero ingredients, and Papaya Enzymes, known to give youthful clarity for all skin types. Additionally, all product names are inspired by Jaé’s Caribbean heritage, which intends to evoke beauty from the inside out. We chatted with him about the process of launching a beauty and skincare brand and how he is shaking up this industry with a supportive Black Beauty community.

For starters, let’s introduce The Black Apothecary Office. What does it do, why and what form does it take?

BAO-The Black Apothecary Office began as a voice/platform for Black and Brown creators in the wellness, beauty and skincare space to control the narrative when is came to their audience and the idea of Black Beauty and the politics of gender, race and class in the beauty and fashion industry.

Through building this space of cultural storytelling we were able to develop our ideas into a physical product, BAO Essentials launched with a line of 4 different offerings, a cleanser, a toner, a lotion, and a night creme, each infused with our hero ingredient papaya enzymes.

Papaya enzymes have so many benefits for a healthy complexion. An organic and natural face wash with papaya enzymes is perfect for sensitive skin and has plenty of benefits.
The enzymes papain and chymopapain in papaya are able to decrease inflammation. Also, the protein-dissolving papain can be found in many exfoliating skincare products. This particular enzyme helps reduce unrelenting breakouts and acne by removing dead skin cells that aren’t letting pores breathe properly and helps keep pores clean. Papain also removes damaged keratin that can build up on the skin and form small bumps or what aestheticians would call milia.

Papain also goes to work on excess oil, scar tissue, and even redness!! Yes, you heard me, blotchy, patchy and red skin. Papain is not only super effective but also an incredibly gentle exfoliator for all skin types including sensitive. It reduces the appearance of acne and even prevents future breakouts because it dissolves the proteins that clog pores keeping your complexion clear, bright and just as beautiful as you are.

Does mental well-being play a role in the brand?

The notion of beauty is converging, if not already converged, with skincare, health and wellness, forming a much more holistic combination that contains not just the externalities of the application of products on the outside of one’s skin but also the surrounding habits, choices and lifestyle as well as nutrition.

Mental health is undoubtedly at the core of our ethos and aligned with our brand’s overall trajectory. Beauty is only one facet of the BAO Essentials brand and The Black Apothecary Office, as the term itself “beauty has been reserved for women, or even the application of color cosmetics, the pandemic shifted this notion quite a bit.

Now with inner beauty and the effects of a holistic approach to skincare, our culture has adopted the idea that beauty can 100% emanate from within.

What concerns did you want to tackle or address with your brand?

Acne Soothing: Papaya fruit contains a powerful enzyme called papain, an ingredient commonly used as a gentle exfoliant for our skin. This exfoliant can be used to cleanse your pores and help prevent the formation of acne caused by clogged pores and excess oil.
In addition, papain may also be beneficial for wound healing, which may be especially helpful for those with severe acne, acne scarring, sunburns, or any other kind of skin irritation in need of soothing.

Healthy Skin Aging: The papaya fruit extract is rich in antioxidants, including lycopene, which can help fight free radical damage and promote healthy aging of our skin while minimizing the appearance of aging.

Papaya fruit extract may also help improve the elasticity of your skin, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines.

Skin Brightening: Because of its rich amounts of vitamin A, papaya fruit extract can be used to help protect your skin from UV damage by reducing your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

Vitamins A and C can also help to naturally brighten your skin’s appearance and promote a natural glow.

Additionally, vitamin C has been known to stimulate collagen production, which can help strengthen your skin, promote skin elasticity, even out your skin tone, and build up your skin’s natural barrier.

Reducing Hyperpigmentation: The papain enzyme found in papaya fruit extract has also been used to reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. This can be beneficial if you experience dark spots or develop sun spots from overexposure to UV rays.

What’s the one thing you would like to change in the industry?

Representation, it can’t be said enough. There is no action without actualization! The decision-makers, the deal-makers at the table, the casting directors, the booking agents, all the way to the store planners and merchandising teams.

Real change begins when the conversation is not left at the table.

Do you have a beauty regime?

I wouldn’t say I have a regime, although I do have a go-to practice you might say. Daily I start with “Dunia” papaya enzyme cleanser from BAO and twice a week I alternate with a hyaluronic acid foaming cleanser from Paula’s Choice. I also use our “CEDELLA” papaya enzyme toner from BAO to help hydrate my skin. I’m really loving Supergoop’s Glowscreen to help achieve my healthy glow during the day, for meetings, events, and photoshoots. A few times a week I work in Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Enzyme Toner for darker skin types. And then my latest obsession is two black-owned beauty brands that I love, Hyperskin and the Hyper Even Fade and Glow AHA Mask, and right after I apply the Topicals Faded Eye Mask.

The best free beauty advice I ever received was not to sleep on my stomach. What’s your favorite beauty advice?

Growing up I was always taught to get as much sleep as I could and drink equal amounts of water each day to stay hydrated. I can say this is great advice although as you age there are other nutrients that your skin needs.

Is there a Caribbean beauty secret?

Papaya is one of the best-kept secrets next to castor oil. This is both for your skin and hair.

I was just watching Home Alone and there’s that famous aftershave scene, and I couldn’t help but think how much ingredients have changed since then! What are some that we should avoid and what are some ingredients that you love?

Honestly, I’d say Parabens, they are used as chemical preservatives in a wide array of personal care products such as moisturizers, shampoos, foundations and many more. Over the past few years, there has been a huge debate whether parabens are safe to use or not. Some say excessive exposure to parabens may lead to breast cancer, but some argue that daily cosmetic exposure to parabens does not cause you any harm.

Basically, everyone’s skin reacts differently depending on various chemicals and skin types. If you would like to take caution, you can definitely find many products without parabens.

My thoughts would be to see a dermatologist to find out what’s best for your skin type and if there is ever a product or ingredient in question, do your research before you purchase.

Why are more and more adults having blemishes?

From what I know, blemishes in adulthood are caused by poor diet, family health history, Vitamin B deficiency, underlined health issues as well as hormone imbalance. Some medications, including corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, and lithium, can also cause acne.

Most of this all comes down to diet and exercise and how to implement proper nutrition.

And finally, what would you say is your signature product?

CEDELLA papaya enzyme toner is hands down the star product of the collection!
Of course people are attracted to the color and even the shape of the bottle, it just has a refreshing smell and feel to it and the results of an ultimate glow.