It’s 2016 and there STILL aren’t any accurate shades of face makeup for women of color.
Brands may advertise that they offer a large number of shades with many different undertones to suit just about anybody, but this is not the case. White skin only consists of a few different shades making it relatively easy to match, but black skin consists of innumerable different shades and various degrees of undertones.
Companies would have to invest heavily in researching these formulations, but why won’t they? It would be too convenient for these companies to claim that there is no market here, but it’s very evident that this is not the case. Since African Americans make up at least 15% of the United States population, one would think that beauty companies would WANT to keep up with the rising population.
Dr Shirley Anne Tate, director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Leeds, has written extensively on the subjects of race and beauty. “Many mainstream companies believe there is no market in ethnic makeup and so they are not willing to put money into this market or into advertising,”
Women of color are speaking out all around the world about their dissatisfaction in the selection of makeup available to them. Sudanese model Nykhor Paul recently spoke out about this issue. “Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional (fashion) show when all the white girls don’t have to do anything but show up?”
Balanda Atis, a scientist for L’Oréal USA (which owns L’Oréal Paris and Lancôme, among others), explains. “While brands might succeed in making darker shades, they didn’t always get the undertones or the depth right,” says Atis, who is African-American. “Typically, there are four pigments used to create one shade: white, yellow, red, and black. To create deeper hues, some chemists mix in too much black pigment, which can leave skin looking bruised.”
Terry Barber, Mac’s director of make-up artistry, also explained how much work goes into the making of darker shades and how costly the process is. “Lighter skins can get away with a mix of three colours to create their matching shades. Darker skins can look ashy or muddy if the shade isn’t correctly matched. It’s not a light undertaking to cater to the world’s skintone variations.”
So, what’s happening is the cosmetic industry is continuing to encourage and profit from Black women’s search for beauty. This issue continues to add to the lack of representation of people of color all over the world.
ARTERBERY, A. (2016). Where’s My Foundation?. Cosmopolitan, 260(1), 44.