Metis Insights – Over this three-day event, you chose to favour skin depigmentation and hair straightening. Why?
Amal Ayad et Étienne Soudant - It is important to help make people understand the significance of melanin to our skin, whatever our ethnic group, and that trying to overlook this issue with skin brightening is a hardly logical approach from a physiological standpoint, besides the resulting aesthetic and public health problems.
However, other approaches which aim at enhancing complexion radiance and reducing bad-looking marks are reasonable, and that is why we tried to highlight these throughout the meetings, targeting both cosmetologists and raw material suppliers.
As for hair straightening, our priority was to inform people about its ill-use without appropriate neutralization, since women are affected by alopecia long before menopause in this geographical area.
Metis Insights - Cosmetopoeia, which lies at the core of current concerns at the Cosmetic Valley, represented the main topic on the last day. Do you think Africa has a role to play here?
Amal Ayad et Étienne Soudant - Because of its strong tradition in the daily use of medicinal plants, Africa obviously has a role to play in the inventory of cosmetic plants initiated by the Cosmetic Valley.
Besides, we have found that the number of plants destined for cosmetic use (cosmetopoeia) is greater than that of medicinal plants (pharmacopoeia) and, in addition, they are very often used as part of a diet, as they do exhibit significant nutritional properties. Now, Africa is the one that should actually benefit from the added value provided by the use of these plants in cosmetics. And to this aim, better knowledge of what a healthy skin and cosmetics are is essential everywhere in Africa. This is what these meetings aim at.
Metis Insights - Was it important to host these first meetings in West Africa, and more specifically in Senegal?
Amal Ayad et Étienne Soudant - Very. That is also why we are planning to found the Société de Cosmétologie de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (Society of West Africa Cosmetology, SCAO). It would stand as a non-profit, learned society, and be most certainly affiliated to the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC), which gathers 47 learned societies of cosmetology and 57 countries.
Metis Insights - Who was this event aimed at?
Amal Ayad et Étienne Soudant - It was aimed at professionals of the cosmetics industry in West Africa. For once, suppliers came to meet West African formulators who cannot travel to Europe because of visa issues.
Metis Insights - Which conclusion can you draw from this first edition?
Amal Ayad et Étienne Soudant - Well, obviously such meetings have much significance in all aspects of the cosmetics industry: formulation, toxicology, legislation, intellectual property, sustainable development, etc.
Metis Insights - How do you think this is going to evolve?
Amal Ayad et Étienne Soudant - New meetings will also take place in Dakar, Senegal, on November 12-13, 2014, and then in other West African countries in the years to come.  Obviously, themes will always focus on black and mixed-race skins, and the priority will always be given to sustainable development, and to the development of affordable, quality cosmetics designed and produced in Africa. And of course, any suggestion is welcome.