Where’s My Foundation?
Nhen it comes to face makeup, women of color are still looking for their match.
it’s i.iki: it happened in slow motion. I fumbled my MAC foundation and watched my NYV40 shatter on the floor. I was back visiting my Hast Texas honx-town, and there wasn’t a MAC counter for miles.
I headed to the local Walmart for an alternative, but nothing matched my skin tone. I’m a black woman but light-skinned (think Bejonce). While there were dozens of shades, not one suited my olive undertones. I knew from years of trial and error that, once applied, those pale shades would give me that “trashy ashy” look.
My frustration grew as I searched for darker colors that I could mix with a lighter shade. Combing the aisles, I wondered why the darker shades were stashed on the bottom shelves, collecting dust. And really, why am I mixing my own makeup?! Today, we can book a blowout via an app, but this is still a struggle? The longer I stood in the checkout line with my three (!) shades of liqukl foundation to mix into a perfect fit, the angrier I became.
Days later. Nykhor Paul, a South Sudanese model, raised the issue on Instagram.
“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?” she asked.
Considering that the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the majority of the country will be minorities by the mid-2040s and African-Americans alone already make up almost 15 percent of the U.S. population, you’d think beauty brands would u’ant to keep pace with the marketplace.
So What’s the Holdup?
I called about a dozen major brands, from Cover Girl to Clinique, to get to the bottom of the problem. Part of it is geography retailers stock a wider variety of shades in Los Angeles than they do in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
I wondered if it was a case of the chicken and the egg. If a retailer believes these customers don’t exist in their region, they’re less likely to alkcatc shelf space for darker foundations.
Perception is one part of the equation, agrees Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst at The NPD Group, which tracks retail trends. Yet, look at MAC: They offer a wide range of skin tones at their stores I located across the U.S.], and women buy them,” she sas, atkling it’s the number one prestige brand in the country.
As for foundation itself, creating it is more complicated than you might think. Balanda Atis. a scientist with L’Otval USA (which owns
I.’Orcal Paris and I.ancome, among others), explains. “While brands might succeed in making darker shades, they didn’t always get the undertones or the depth right,” sax’s 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.
For a caramel hue, there may be too much red or yellow, which can leave skin looking orange. Sometimes, chemists add titanium dioxide, a pigment used in many cosmetics to add coverage. Result: an ashy finish. So even when dark shades are available, many of them haven’t been very good.
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