Being a woman of color and shopping for makeup has to be one of the most frustrating experiences ever. The big name brand cosmetics companies often forget about those of us who have darker toned skin, and it often times makes us feel like we don’t matter. And if, by some stroke of luck, you do find a brand that carries a darker shade it almost never matches your complexion and that only adds to your frustration. Why is it that, in an industry that publicly claims to celebrate the beauty in each and every race, black and brown girls worldwide have issues finding cosmetics that cater to their needs? Worry not my loves, I’ve rounded up some tips straight from industry professionals that will put your beauty bummers to rest once and for all. So without further adieu, here are some helpful tips for you black and brown bombshells:
Avoid makeup that is too light, as it can make your skin look chalky. Yellow-based foundations work best for women with darker skin, you don’t want a color that is too cool (or warm) for the undertones you have. How do you figure out your undertone? Glad you asked! Cool toned women have pink, red, or blueish undertones. While warm toned ladies have yellow, peachy, or golden undertones. And neutral toned lassies have a mix of warm and cool tones. I know this may feel like you’re reading a car manual in Chinese so here’s a cheat sheet:
There’s a really good method that makes figuring this out a cinch, but I’ll share it in another post. With foundation, the goal is to see the makeup disappear after applying it on your skin with no visible boundary between. Always test foundation colors in natural light, fluorescent lights like the ones in your bathroom can be a little iffy sometimes. Seeing it in natural light will also let you know how it’ll look when you’re out and about. If you have trouble finding the right color, try mixing two shades (one darker than your natural color and one lighter). I always do this when I’m low on my favorite color concealer, it works like a charm. Now as far as bronzer, the pros all say this: brown and copper compliment black and brown skin tones perfectly, and a touch of shimmer highlights cheekbones wonderfully. Blush is always a fun tool to work with, I love experimenting with different shades. Pink always seems to be the shade I go for. The great thing about pink is that it compliments all skin tones, so play around with different hues to see which one works best for you.
If you’re looking to glam up your kisser then go for lips colors in earth tones, neutrals, pinks, and dark burgundies. And choose a lip liner that is close to the shade of lipstick you’re wearing. If you aren’t feeling as dramatic that’s cool too, a dab of lip gloss will give you a more natural and laid back look. The same lip liner rule applies to gloss too, sticking to a shade closer to what’s on your lips will help avoid a dark outline. No one likes chalk outline lips.
Shimmery and metallic eyeshadows look amazing on black and brown skin tones. Feeling a little daring? Then try mixing two complimentary colors, like purple and gold (Lakers?), to intensify the drama. One huge point that many women of color don’t know is this: the darker your skin, the brighter the colors you can pull off. One of my dearest and most beloved older cousins is a woman who has a deep dark chocolate complexion. Absolutely flawless! The things she’s able to do with colors are amazing.
I remember this one time in particular I was at her house while she was getting ready for a night out with her husband. Her foundation was set, lashes were all in place, and all she needed was a little blush to polish it all off. She pulled out her cute little compact and flipped it open nonchalantly. My mouth dropped in shock, it was orange! And not some rinky dink kinda sorta orange, like bright Orange is the New Black orange. As she lifted the brush to her cheeks, I watched in horror, trying my best to stifle the urge to smack it out of her hand. But my fears fizzled out when I saw how absolutely gorgeous it was. And then I got jealous.
To all my dark skinned divas I’d admonish you to not fear bright colors, they are your friends.
Accentuate your eyes with brown or black eyeliner. Brown liner is a great choice for a more natural look, and black always adds an element of drama. The same goes with mascara. I love using black mascara to make my lashes stand out, and when I’m going for a softer look I use brown. And if you feel like channeling your inner Hollywood it girl, false lashes are always a must. I have small hooded eyes, thanks to my granny (she’s Korean and Jamaican), so I use falsies to give me the appearance of a bigger and brighter eye.
Despite the limited selection of brands that cater to women of color, there are some that are doing it right. In 1994 fashion superstar Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, professionally known as Iman, launched IMAN Cosmetics. The brand holds on to the truth that women of color represent many races, cultures, and ethnicities. Her line of cosmetics, skincare, and fragrances are designed for African American, Asian, Latina, and multi-cultural women with skin tones in a host of different shades. Her products are sold throughout the world including the US, Canada, the UK, France, Brazil, Africa, and the Caribbean. Other noteworthy lines include the Cover Girl Queen Collection, M.A.C., Black Radiance, and Fashion Fair
The beauty industry may not be hip on how awesome women of color are, but that isn’t a reflection of how we view ourselves. All skin tones are beautiful and unique in their own right. Embrace your melanin, it’s what makes you you. Zoe Saldana said it best: “Glamour is about feeling good in your own skin”. Nothing is more true than that. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! Every freckle, stretch mark, and hair on your head is there for a reason, learn to love them. There is so much beauty in imperfections, being perfect is for losers. Be comfortable in your skin and revel in the fact that no one in the world can pull it off better than you. Stay beautiful loves ❤