Black woman cleaning face with water and looking in mirror

Being Multicultural is Not a Beauty ‘Trend’

When I was growing up and just started using makeup, going through that process wasn’t easy, and that’s merely an understatement.

I was practically forced into wearing makeup. My mom thought it was an absolute necessity for me to wear it for my 7th grade pictures. I fought tooth and nail, but she didn’t budge, so to school I went — looking like a clown.

When I finally came to terms with the fact that makeup would be a part of my life, I started realizing that trying to find shades that perfectly matched my skin tone was nearly impossible.

I had to mix two or three shades of brown to make the right shade of foundation for myself, or I’d end up looking like a ghost. Even worse, sometimes, the color on my face were two shades lighter than the rest of my body.

Yes, there was Fashion Fair, but I was a penniless high school student. Over the years, I sort of fell in love with Queen Latifah’s Cover Girl Queen collection, but that line was unceremoniously pulled from the shelves. I finally found the perfect shade of foundation from L’Oreal, which had the perfect consistency, and that line is now discontinued. At this moment I can sadly say I only have two bottles of it left.

Queen Iman (God bless her) came out with a beauty line, then the brilliant minds at Black Radiance created one and there’s Black Opal, but that’s only three mainstream brands for people of color to choose from.

There are so many niche, indie beauty brands for people of color, but good luck finding them. Unless you have a cool makeup artist friend who’s always up on new brands or happen to stumble upon one when you’re browsing on social media, you’re pretty much out of luck and stuck with that subpar shade of CoverGirl foundation at your local drug store.

If you’re reading this story and thinking, “yes I live this experience,” you’re probably a woman of color who is fed up with the fact that finding the right makeup can be quite a task if you’re not a makeup artist or beauty editor.

Will there ever be time where we, as people of color, can walk into a store and easily find a brand that works for us?

I’ve been asking this question for years now, so when Women’s Wear Daily recently put together a beauty diversity issue, I was a little skeptical.

Was the list going to confirm my irritation with the landscape of the beauty industry today? Yes. Was I going to get annoyed by seeing the same 10 or 15 people mentioned every time diversity is talked about in the beauty industry? Perhaps.

To my surprise, the “50 Most Influential People in the Multicultural Market” list was interesting and even a bit encouraging. Of the 50 beauty industry professionals featured on the list, 27 were black, 10 were Spanish, three were Asian and 10 were white.

There were six celebrities and 10 entrepreneurs, which means they’ve acknowledged the need to create products that cater to specific multicultural beauty needs of people of color and are not relying on a big brands to create it for them.

I did have one issue though. The list featured, Nicole Fourgoux, the general manager of L’ORÉAL USA’s Multicultural Beauty Division, one of the biggest beauty companies in the world, who is not a person of color.

Not to say that’s bad or anything, but don’t you think if you’re heading up the multicultural division of your company you should have a multicultural heritage?

I don’t care what anyone says, if you’re not a person of color, you don’t understand certain things a person of color goes through, especially when it comes to beauty.

Women’s Wear Daily also released a report titled “The Beauty Market’s Diversity Reach,” polling the multicultural voices of the beauty industry about their opinions on how the multicultural beauty industry has progressed.

One quote stood out.

“The consumer is telling us today she has to shop in three or four different aisles to buy everything she needs for her family just for hair care,” Fourgoux said. “The artificial separation between the ethnic aisle and the general market aisle is seen as outdated —they very clearly want an integrated presentation.”

You think?

It’s a little disappointing that beauty industry leaders have waited until 2015 to realize that America isn’t just black and white, but that as our American society has increasingly become more blended, they have to do something to cater to people of color.

It’s a matter of economics here, but at least something’s being done — although it’s more driven by money than actually caring about catering to the beauty needs of our multicultural society as a whole.

“When you say general market versus multicultural or ethnic you’re still putting people in boxes,” Richelieu Dennis, founder of Sundial Brands, said in the report.

This is so true. Don’t put us in box. We’re not a trend–we deserve to be served with beauty products that represent people of color just as they represent the rest of the world, but I guess we can’t get mad that this is happening since the people representing us at these big corporations have just now noticed that something needs to be done to change this.


Ashley Paintsil is a lifestyle writer and a content strategist for emerging fashion companies. She has a passion for discovering new talent in the fashion tech, design and business spaces and bringing their stories to light. With several years of experience supporting a team at an East Coast venture capital firm, she also has a knack for giving advice on how to make and keep money and how to succeed in entrepreneurial life.

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