Maryland-based cosmetic line owner helps people feel confident in their skin with African products

This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.

“Bluffajo” is a term in Liberia that refers to someone, male or female, who possesses confidence, said Maisie Dunbar, the woman behind a Maryland-based cosmetics company that strives to instill confidence in all who wear it.

Dunbar is the president and founder of the Maisie Dunbar Global Beauty Brands featuring Bluffajo products.

“You can have on sweats but you still know how to rock it,” she said.

The licensed esthetician, manicurist and massage therapist developed the cosmetic line after her mother’s death. Dunbar said the event caused her to take inventory of her life and think about what kind of legacy she wanted to leave behind. She shut down her spa business in 2018 to go into selling cosmetics online.

What makes her products different, especially when it comes to African American skin, Dunbar said, is there are no fillers in the products, which tend to make darker complexions look gray.

“I’m very cognizant about the appearance of the skin,” she said, adding that “everything you put on your skin goes into your body.”

Dunbar is very involved in the process and makes sure that the ingredients that go into her products are all natural and safe.

“African American skin has more density,” she said, adding that her products match the skin tone, not the skin type, because the underlying tone of the skin is where the skin color lies.

Dunbar was born in Liberia and came to the U.S. at the age of 13 during the coup d’état in that country in 1980. She had a very successful day spa and wellness lounge in downtown Silver Spring for close to 30 years prior to entering the cosmetics world.

Dunbar is also a Goodwill ambassador, receiving numerous awards and accolades over the last three decades, including Maryland Top MBE Business of the Year. She’s worked with major advertisers and A-list clients, but believes that helping her community is an integral part of her mission.

Dunbar spoke about working with homeless populations and “teaching them how to transition from homelessness to having a clean look.” She has also worked with disadvantaged youth from all over the world, helping them develop confidence in the skin they’re in, that Bluffajo confidence.

“The first thing I try to do is put myself in their shoes,” Dunbar said.

She uses the same technique to connect with youth that works every single time. First, Dunbar asks the children to put on their shoes backwards, then instructs them to walk.

As they try to walk, she tells them that it’s going to feel uncomfortable for a while, but she said “if you keep walking in these shoes while we’re together, you’re going to get a little more comfortable in these shoes, and you are going to get comfortable with what you see in the mirror.”

“Who you see, what you see and how you feel is all that matters,” said Dunbar.

Learn more about Global Beauty Brands featuring Bluffajo products online or call 301-585-4770.

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant is an Anchor and Reporter for WTOP. Over the past 20 years, Stephanie has worked in several markets, including Baltimore, Washington, Houston and Charleston, holding positions ranging from newscaster to morning show co-host.

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