Tuesday, February 19, 2008

NY Mag: All I Want is a Foundation That Matches

...the lack of cosmetics—particularly the basics, like foundation and concealer—for my skin tone has always bothered me. When I ask companies about extending their lines for women of color, I’m usually told some version of “we’re working on it,” or shown one or two dark shades. Counterside makeovers can be humiliating; I end up in whiteface or am told point-blank they don’t have my color.

When it comes to makeup I am obsessed with three things, my own personal Holy Grail of products. For me, it all comes down to the blackest mascara, the perfect shade of red lipstick, and foundation that matches my skin. The most time consuming of these quests has been the foundation aspect. At last count I had at least ten bottles of the stuff taking up space in various makeup bags, purses, drawers and of course the bathroom cabinet which barely has room for the other essentials, like toothpaste.

I was delighted to see this article on TFS this morning, Finally, someone (a beauty editor no less) telling how it really goes down at those chic cosmetics counters. Even though Black women have magazines like Essence that will tell readers about what's new on the market, the realities of the magazine business and its relationship with advertisers means that no one is going to write a critical article about how these promises in a bottle really look on a range of brown skin.

Without identifying myself as an editor. I spent a few days in the stores, scanning the offerings and telling the counter people that I was looking for a foundation, some concealer, and a few new spring colors. I also asked for makeovers.

Makeovers? Never again. There is something about a black woman will clear skin that makes the makeup counter ladies go insane, especially at Nordstrom where if one isn't careful she'll get blasted against her will with a makeup gun and believe me, it is always set to 'whore' or 'Kabuki'.

I decide to try a smaller, boutique line. At Macy’s, I check the Too Faced counter, where the gentleman tells me I am absolutely Caribbean Cocoa. That is the darkest shade they have—but it’s sold out, so he makes an aggressive case for a bronzer-only look. I leave looking like a disco ball.

... I call the companies to see what’s being done. Some are on the defensive.

Years ago I was intrigued by the pretty packaging of a smaller makeup line that had three of four compacts of makeup, each designed for different moods or looks. The spokemodel they used was former Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, a redhead with very fair skin. For whatever reason I decided to email the company and ask if they had considered expanding the range to include makeup that would make "moods" for women without alabaster skin. The response was a curt, "our makeup is for everyone!" even though the color scheme spoke otherwise. Oh well...

So my personal makeup search continues. I've had luck in the past with MAC and a few shades of Armani's Luminous Silk Foundation and a handful of drugstore brands including Revlon's new Custom Color Foundation liquid, but something tells me, this will be a life long pursuit. It's just nice get a little validation in print so I can take heart knowing that I'm not alone in the struggle.

Everyone was lovely, everyone tried, everyone has good intentions. YSL, Chanel, and Nars are launching darker shades later this year. Bobbi Brown can’t put a timetable on their latest. Still. Makeup shopping is supposed to be fun, but getting rejected time after time made this the most emotionally draining story I’ve ever done.

Amen sister.


lapetitediva said...

I posted a long comment, but because I wasn't logged in to LJ, I couldn't post it. I hope this works. In short, I have a lot of yellow in my skin, and the makeup lines for darker skins are meant for women with red or blue undertones. I thought about trying one of the lines for Asian skins, because they tend to have a lot of yellow, but those shades are too light for my medium brown skin. The closest I've gotten to a perfect match is MAC C6 compact foundation. Thanks for posting this article.

Brigitte said...

Hmmm, that makes me wonder if makeup designed for women in India would work since there seems to be as much variation in skin tone there as there is among the Black population in the US.

Sadia Bruce said...

Awesome post.

I use Lancome Teint Idole Ultra myself and it works wonders. No joke. I'm often complemented on my "gorgeous skin" when I'm wearing the stuff. Not sure about how much variety of pigment on the darker end of the spectrum (I've got a bronzey, honey hue with yellow undertones myself), but it's definitely worth checking out. Unmatched quality, I swear...

E said...

Thanks for this article. Like lpd I have lots of yellow in my skin (and my veins show green) but I am brown overall. If it's not summer, or I haven't been catching sun, the best I can get is Jane Iredale's maple. The next line up is very red based.

And, the Jane Iredale company was nasty to my spa when they went to them on my behalf. They accused the ladies who introduced me to JI of not using the line properly. Bias strikes again and makes fools of otherwise competent business people. :/

Danielle said...

Hey! I love your blog by the way :)

I'm a makeup artist and have clients of varying shades, most of which are Black, and I often use either MAC or Becca Cosmetics foundations. You often have to buy two shades and mix them together to get a perfect match. Sounds tedious and expensive, but it's much better than wearing the wrong shade. You could even buy one color, then ask the counter to give you a sample of the other color that way you can custom blend the color without having to fork over the extra cash.