SKINROADS BY KAI SEMPLE
I am Kai Semple, 28 years old, from London but based in Copenhagen. I am a creative chef and started a concept called Yam, which is primarily focused on modern Caribbean cuisine, and kind of introduced it to Scandinavia in a way that’s very approachable but also authentic.
When seeking inspiration I normally have to go abroad – everyone has the cliché story of cooking with their grandmother. My grandmother is a great cook, but, unfortunately at the time I didn’t have that connection to food. So a lot of it comes from having Caribbean food being very tasty and wondering how as a chef I can make it into a form that’s a little bit more approachable visually, and highlighting that. To really sum up, my inspiration goes back to London, the culture, the nature, and how the hustle-and-bustle kinda keeps you.
I don’t really have a skincare ritual as such, but day-to-day I try to use things that soak within my skin. It can be coconut oil, or any type of oil, especially in the colder months, where I moisturize 2-3x daily. I would like to have a skincare ritual to uplift and upkeep, but I’ve never really thought of it as such since I spend so much time at work, where I can’t really be looking all greasy you know. If that’s the case it would be like a nice Sunday ritual, a day where you have time for things like that. Maybe for the future, for sure.
It took time before I discovered pure products. I grew up surrounded by Nivea and the like of skincare products. At first it was my mum who started realizing that it was not helping, as in, you lotion yourself, you go outside, and then you’re dry again! Basically, it dissolves. So, I would say primarily from my mum over the years, over her own learning she applied the same knowledge to me, as in looking at different oils and balancing pH levels and all this stuff that is actually needed for skin.
Looking at Nivea now, you could use it in two weeks, while a good oil would last for a few months. Ethically, yes, to thicker creams or “culture” creams because they might have no scent, or perhaps not as nice and potent as perfumed ones – especially while growing up, it was like I don’t want this because it doesn’t have a scent or isn’t perfumed, even though it was what it should smell like. I kinda had to take this step back and reevaluate things and understand that my skin is important, that you can add the perfume yourself, in moderation obviously, and that it’s up to you to make your kind of concoction.
I’ve gotten to realize the difference within skin types, and understanding my skin, especially being in a European narrative, is that what you see on TV for example is not what you need and does not technically work for your skin the same way, so you have to move back to basics, to your roots and look at what people use — e.g. Black Soap and Castor Oil in the Caribbean.
All these products or remedies that Black people used back in the days are now those that are my focus and that I experiment with to make my own concoction on how beneficial it is for skin & hair, many things you take for granted. These come from the source of where you come from, and are just here to be used for your skin. This is what made me revert to Black Beauty, and just empower each and everyone, seeing different brands. We have the raw materials but how do we package it in a way that looks approachable, and that’s the beauty of where we are all going.