Beauty / Uncategorized

Shady Business: The Makeup Industry and Women of Colour

*woc = woman of colour

I’ll say it…

Shopping for foundation as a woman of colour sucks.

If it’s not the limitation in range of colours, it’s the colours themselves. Finding a foundation that is the right colour and fulfills your skins individual needs is truly a quest.

In my experience shades are either too light or too orange and don’t cater to the undertones of my darker skin. I’m sure many WOC have this same experience when looking for a foundation.

Of course the less viable but alternative option is to spend lots of money to obtain the perfect shade. Aside from a select few brands (like MAC Cosmetics and Make Up For Ever), high-end brands often have a limited amount of darker shades in their collections. Brands like Marc Jacobs have the spending power to put out more selection, but end up producing only a few shades that hardly cover the range of their WOC customers.


Marc Jacobs Remarcable foundation is hardly remarkable with only three WOC “friendly” shades. Photo via Manny Mua

Personally, I typically need an in-between shade, but I always have to go lighter or darker as most brands at Sephora don’t cater to my undertones. However, not every woman has the luxury of shopping for their foundation at Sephora.

It’s especially a shame that cost-effective and accessible drug store brands don’t even fulfill the demand for an expanded shade range.

In April 2016, Almay not only came under fire for excluding women of colour from their shade range, but also for their questionable slogan “The American Look,” which added fuel to the racist implications. This drug store brand is not the only one excluding WOC from their products.

During my recent trip to the drugstore I discovered that many of the other affordable brands only have on average two or three brown-friendly shades. When I say “friendly,” I say that very loosely. Many of the shades deemed appropriate for darker skin were more beige or “tan” (I’m looking at you L’oreal, Maybelline and Rimmel).


Maybelline’s Dream Velvet foundation only has a few WOC friendly shades. Photo via

It’s not to say that there isn’t a growing demand for selection beyond beige or tan. The US Census Bureau predicted that the minorities will be the majority in the country by 2045. With this in mind, there certainly will be an increased demand for beauty products that are WOC friendly, and this is just in the United States.

While I’m sure there is financial motivation behind the production of limited darker shades, it’s a double-edged sword. By neglecting these consumers who are willing to buy these products, major beauty brands are failing to capitalize on this market and as a result, losing out on the spending power of this population.

It’s also argued that the science of creating foundation for WOC is trickier, but if the industry is capable of putting out several beige foundations with a variety of pink and yellow undertones, then it’s certainly possible. After all, it is 2017. The makeup industry has come a long way but there’s still a long way to go.

Hopefully there will be more selection in the future. For now I’ll have to keep to mixing it up by mixing my foundations.

What do you guys think? Have you ever had this experience?

Also, if you’re interested in reading more about this topic, I’ve included a link to the article “The Makeup Industry’s Frustrating Cycle of Struggle and Progress for Women of Color” which inspired this blog. I usually wouldn’t recommend a Cosmo article, but this one is also insightful.

Until next time…

Stay shady 😎




One thought on “Shady Business: The Makeup Industry and Women of Colour

  1. Pingback: Rihanna’s Makeup Line: Worth Fenty of Money? | by all meens:

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