Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A day at the Beauty Store...

De's post reminds me of an experience I had at a popular beauty store.

I went to this shop with my aunty to pick out foundation and other makeup products for her to use on her son's wedding. We went to seek the advice of a beauty consultant (I use that term loosely) as to what shade and foundation type would work best for her. Much to my surprise as I was browsing the house brand, there were absolutely NO shades that would suit "women of color." Now I don't mean they didn't have Sable (usually the deepest of colors) but they didn't even have a shade that would work for a lighter skin women of color. They completely ignored us! They only carried five shades that ranged from the lightest of skintones to that of the light olive complected.

I began to question my beauty consultant as to why there were absolutely NO shades that would suit us. After all, I was in a western Chicago suburb, with a sizable South Asian/Asian market base. Wouldn't it be smart to cater to a noticeable ethnic population?

The consultant seemed really apologetic but then focused our attention to the pricier studio lines of makeup. She immediately reached for the darkest shade in that line, tested it on my aunt's face, and seemed satisfied with the results. Now my aunty is not the darkest complected woman, but something irked me about the lady not even trying out different shades. Us brown girls know that even the subtlest variances in skintone and undertone make the difference for our makeup. We aren't a one-shade- fits-all kind of people.

Since we were convinced that this specific line was the only one that had foundation that worked for her, my aunty purchased it.

The day of the wedding comes along and to her horror, my aunt discovers that the foundation was actually too dark. In the store light, the makeup didn't look bad...just a bit makeup-y if you know what I mean. But in the natural light, the makeup did not suit her at all.

I got so discouraged and angered by this. You have a beauty consultation and spend the extra money to buy quality makeup. It's discouraging because it seems like the more pigment you have in your skin, the more limited your makeup selection is. The mainstream brands can't even get it right!

Another experience reaffirms this. Clinique, for example, hires really bad staff or just has truly shiteous products for deeper skinned gals. My mom went into the department store to buy face-powder from the line. She comes home with the deepest shade that had a reddish-undertone...It looked awful on my mom's skin! My mom is bit of a novice when it comes to beauty products so she did not really question the Clinique consultant.

Either these brands invest in shades that suit a whole spectrum of skintones or remain mainstream and cater to women with lighter skin (who supposedly make up 80% of population, according to makeup brands). In the mean time, this is why makeup designed for "women of color" must clearly designate that.


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