I have worked in the beauty industry for 5 years now, and have seen it grow and evolve as times have changed. As we all know, the lack of colour selection for melanin babes who want that extra coverage has been a challenge for many years. It has taken Rihanna’s Fenty line to finally see over 40 shades of foundation be available to both lighter and darker skinned makeup wearers. Some issues surrounding shade options go further than we think, and some problems melanin queens face in the “beauty department” aren’t only foundation/skin deep. Let’s dive in.
The obvious, and resounding concern for most beauty lovers has been a lack of foundation options for anyone above an olive skin tone. As someone who was raised in Moncton, I noticed that most brands at the drug store offered various shades of white, and only one very dark shade. I always had an incredibly difficult time matching myself, and so did makeup artists I worked with. Once I moved out of the east coast, I noticed a wider variety of shades in foundation. I was finally told that there was fewer dark foundation shades in the east coast because there was believed to be fewer consumers and therefore the planograms were made for items which would sell, presumably not dark-skin foundations. Shortly after learning it wasn’t only a company thing, but a numbers game, the industry changed and wider-varieties of foundation were fought for, and now I see more options in drug stores and Sephora, but at one point you just had several shades of peach and one super dark as options.
One of the many gripes I have had in the skincare world, has been the way that skincare is targeted, also, to mainly white women. Most brands have a few products that discuss glow, whitening and radiance as if being dark, or pigmented means you have no lustre, shine, lifeforce in your skin. As someone who is lightskin, I found my acne scars to be a shockingly dark hyper-pigmentation and I have bought several “dark-spot” correctors over the years. The first one I purchased, much to my horror, believed I was the dark spot, and I saw my skin gradually lighten over a week’s time before eventually tossing the tube. Since then, I have researched ingredients and search for the glycolic acids, and AHA’s. I have recently come into a product as well which is advertised to brighten and remove dark spots from all skin tones, even melanated ones! I have yet to try it but hope it will do the trick.
Other issues I have with the beauty industry include: not creating dark panty hose, only nude/beige and black; creating universal skintone’d sunscreens or colour correctors that actually aren’t; not having enough beauty schools for tanning products held in the east coast.
What I always found difficult about working in the beauty industry was having many people ask for products that I could always find, at any price point but have very few or only extremely expensive options for melanin beauties that came to the same stores. It was also difficult knowing I was giving better service than I was receiving, that I was offering more than I would ever receive, and that’s not on the worker’s – that’s on the companies not asking for better or doing better.
While I am happy things are finally taking a turn, and there is more variety available in makeup we still have a long way to go. People of colour still have skin care concerns that aren’t being addressed by the companies that rule the skincare industry. Nylons are still offered in beige and black and not lightksin, or dark brown, or whatever I may consider my nude to be. Nude should be whatever shade matches be when I am naked, bare, nude. Not the colour of some other white person. That is not my nude. I appreciate the progress, and may God bless Rihanna for making a stance and coming out with Fenty and changing the game, but we have a long way to go before I can walk comfortably in a store knowing my needs will be met, my questions will be answered and I will be paid the same attention as the white beauties who have shopped beside me.