Makeup industry lacks shades for women of color

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By Vanessa Anderson

Imagine being an underrepresented minority. Many women of color face this unfortunate reality.

Alienated is how many African American women feel. For years, Black women have been frustrated because they are underrepresented. One area where African American women are most neglected in is the makeup industry.

There is a second-class citizen approach to Black women. It is difficult for many women of color to find their shade. Many have experienced going to the drug store only to find that the deepest shade available was mahogany or cappuccino.

Claudiane Phillippe, beauty influencer and Youtube personality, has found a huge issue with the makeup industry’s absence of shade range.

“I’ve found it relatively easy to find my shade in foundations because I have a yellow undertone,” said Phillippe. “What bothers me is that my shade is the darkest in most company’s collections when I know there are deeper complexions that lack representation in the makeup industry.” 

The makeup industry marginalization stems from the lack of knowledge regarding African American women’s complexions and undertones.

A specific brand that fails to cater to women of color is It Cosmetics. The company’s line of Bye Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer has four shades: light, medium, tan and rich. That range is supposed to represent all skin tones. The issue is that only a small majority of women will be able to enjoy their products due to the absence of color range for Black women.

Phillippe is a consumer who is disappointed by It Cosmetics.

“It Cosmetics has really let me down by only catering to very fair shades,” she said. “When it comes to light shades It Cosmetics offers various undertones. When it comes to deeper shades they only offer grey undertones which does not represent a majority or cool or warm undertones often found in women of color.”

Another person who is dissatisfied by the company’s foundation shade range is beauty influencer, Montana Campbell.

“I’ve never tried It cosmetics but I have seen it on influencer Jackie Aina and the shade was completely off, it was also the darkest shade. So now I don’t support the brand,” Campbell said.

Another example of how women of color are being neglected by the makeup industry is Tarte Cosmetics.

On Jan. 15, Tarte released their highly anticipated Shape Tape Foundation. With its release came many frustrated reviews due to the shade range, only three of fifteen shades catered to darker skin tones.

Alisyn Green, a Riverside City College student, who is a woman of color, agrees with the beauty industry’s lack of diversity and underrepresentation of Black women.

“I think that the beauty industry’s lack of representation of women of color has to do with the prevalence of racism in the makeup industry which draws their influences from the European-dominated fashion industry,” Green said.

“I would agree that many foundations that I look for, don’t quite have my skin tone so I sort of have to improvise and choose what’s closest, but I have to buy at least three different foundation shades depending on how much I have darkened from sunlight exposure.”

Green is not the only woman of color to experience discrimination from the makeup industry, Philippe has also experienced it too.

“It’s disheartening to know that there are still too many makeup brands that refuse to expand their shade ranges to accommodate women of color,” Philippe said.

“Many of my favorite brands lack foundations and concealers that go beyond a light caramel shade and in 2018 that is a major problem.”

“I would like to see makeup brands showcasing more Black women as their spokespeople and ‘face of the brand’ because too often I see brands that have wide shade ranges and those that don’t, only promote campaigns with fair skinned models,”

“It’s without a doubt that most brands cater to fair skinned women so it is in their benefit to promote diversity to increase their revenue,” Philippe said. 

Although there are makeup brands that discriminate against women of color, there are also brands that celebrate African American women’s beauty.

Phillippe has many suggestions for diverse makeup brands.

“For high end I love Makeup Forever Ultra HD foundation and for drug store L’Oréal, in general, really caters to a wide range of deeper skin tones,” Phillippe said.

“There is no excuse for high end or drugstore companies to lack deep shades when it has proven to be successful with some of the biggest brands in their respective markets.” 

Even though Black women continue to be oppressed by many makeup brands, there are still some makeup brands that are passionate about celebrating the beauty of African American women.

Some of the most diverse makeup brands to check out are Fenty Beauty, Black Opal and Black Radiance.

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