The darker skin dilemma

Monday, 18 June 2012

The darker skin dilemmaWomen with darker skins have been wondering the beauty aisles of stores for years, never quite being able to find the product that suits their complexions perfectly. It has only been over the last five to eight years that beauty houses have realised the untapped market of the darker complexion.

While big brands like Estee Lauder and Clinique and L’Oreal (L’Oreal, Maybelline, SoftSheen-Carson) have been leading the market, they’ve only over the past few years pushed their marketing strategies hard at this segmented group of women. In 2000, L’Oreal established the L’Oreal Institute for Ethnic Hair and Skin Research and began putting a third of its $360-million research and development budget towards black hair and skin care.

So why is it that women like myself have had to wait so long for beauty products that suit our complexions? Researchers say beauty houses have never really had the kind of data they do now. And that it made more business sense to focus on the Caucasian market. I find this hard to believe, as it’s a well known fact that black and Asian women spend up to three times more on beauty products than their lighter-skinned sisters.

At the recent Women’s Wear Daily Beauty Summit, former supermodel and now beauty mogul spoke out against retailers and big businesses who refused to see the value in beauty products for women of colour.

‘I have customers from all over the world that look for the products, but I also have customers in the US that can’t find the product in a store near them,’ she said, adding that when she first launched her line of cosmetics, ‘it was a no-go. They wanted me to be placed at the back, which they considered, like it is, for the ethnic section, which I was totally against it for no other reason but because also I never considered myself an ethnic brand.’

I, for one, know how hard it is to find the right shade of foundation, because on darker skin tones, our skins are often more than one shade. And then you have to move on to eye colours and lip colours and not to mention cheek colours. But that’s why I’m a beauty editor, to test, try and report back to you!

Foundation

With its IntuiTone technology, Estee Lauder’s Invisible Fluid Makeup has been designed to match your skin colour. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t only one shade (actually there are 16), but once you find the shade that suits, it blends really well. The buildable foundation is novel in that it needs to be shaken first, but it’s oil-free and will even your skin tone.

Eyes, Lips & Cheeks

Luxury Lip Shimmer, Perfect Mascara, Eye Defining Powder, Sheer Finish Bronzing Powder and more. Who better to take colour cues from than Iman herself? Her luxury cosmetics lines are specifically designed with women of colour (including black, Asian and Latina) in mind.

Skincare

Johnson & Johnson have for years relied on Neutrogena’s oil and shine control ranges and marketed them towards women with darker skin, who they say are more prone to oiliness. But they’ve also recently launched their African Nurture range of body lotions, creams and cleansers. Neutrogena has been my skincare brand of choice for a while now, but if you’re looking for something more fragrant, give Johnson’s African Nurture a try too.

These days L’Oreal are punting their Garnier Even and Oil Control Complete skincare range to leave skin feeling soft, shine free and, you guessed it, even in skin tone.

Other aticles you may be interested in
Vaseline Healthy Even Tone
Ponds Age Miracle

Written by

Megan Kakora has helped launch the websites of, and been the online editor for, some of South Africa’s biggest glossy magazines. She believes in less-is-more, except when it comes to her collection of nail polish colours.
Megan on Google+

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  1. BeautySouthAfrica

    Hi Moodley. Iman cosmetics are available at selected Stuttafords stores.

    5 years ago •

  1. Moodley

    I love the bronzer and the lip shimmer. Where are the Iman products sold?

    5 years ago •

  1. Hess

    Black Up make-up could be the answer!

    5 years ago •

  1. kunene

    I did not realise that you had such a wealth of information on dark skin tones…thank you beauty SA,I am addicted again after a long sabbatical.

    5 years ago •

  1. Gervase

    This is so true. I have searched for a foundation or powder for my colour complexion and its very difficult. I am currently using a powder which has an orangish tone to it because even the darkest brown is still too light for me

    5 years ago •

  1. Nuuh

    Thank u for the article I have been struggling for years to find a foundation that suits my skin and does not make me shiny when its hot

    5 years ago •

  1. smiley

    i’ve tried almost everything!! i either look too pale or too dark, can’t quite figure my complexion :(

    5 years ago •

  1. Fuzzylilbunny

    There really aren’t enough products which adequately cater for us women with darker skin. My skin tone is a medium/dark colour, and when I look for a good foundation, they are all either a bit too dark, or the right shade but make me look a bit yellow.

    5 years ago •

  1. foreverGLAM

    Finding the right shade of foundation definitely is a struggle but I’ll use the tips on this article.

    5 years ago •

  1. Hima

    WIll give Johnson’s African Nurture a try!!!!

    5 years ago •

  1. Rochelle Stewart

    I never even thought about it!

    5 years ago •

  1. Maddy

    All the concerns listed apply to Indians as well, i am a fair Indian but undertones different from Causcasian sistas and finding matching products is a mission but i must say things have improved drastically in last few years and wish it would get only better.

    5 years ago •

  1. Mohamed

    For concealor to match your skin tone mix it with lipstick or lipgloss. I mix mine with a red.orange lipstick, and it blends perfectly. It works as a concealor and corrector.

    6 years ago •

  1. K@t

    Garnier is quite reasonably priced. Good value for money!

    6 years ago •

  1. Le Noir Pearl

    I have been lucky that my favourite and my 1st make up was maybelline.insummer I use dark cocoa and in winter cocoa in the Dream matte mouse. But sometimes I use Revlon in mahogany. MAC also has a wide range of colours I love their powders gives coverage of foundation without its heaviness

    6 years ago •

  1. Fem Shaik

    Neutrogena’s body oil works like a charm and it has a pleasant scent.

    6 years ago •

  1. Fem Shaik

    Maybelline has wide range of make-up for darker skin like dream matte mousse and liquid satin foundation.

    6 years ago •

  1. M.Ross

    Black up cosmetics are stunning! They really pop on a darker skin. Just remember not to add too much shimmer to cheeks with an oily skin.

    6 years ago •

  1. Varsha

    Thanks for this… It is difficult with Indian skin as well as the shades often are too dark or too light

    6 years ago •

  1. Jeanice van Heerden

    This is a very interesting article, however I still believe that ethnic products are still quite limited.

    6 years ago •

  1. Henrietta

    I have tried all kinds of foundation. To lite to dark to yellow.
    Then I received a sample of Estee Lauder double wear. wow is fits my skin perfect.

    6 years ago •

  1. DIVA

    very formative, will definately try the products for the darker skin.

    6 years ago •

  1. K@t

    Wish these actually did what they promised.

    6 years ago •

  1. Clarad

    Interesting article for those with olive skin complexion too! I always struggle to find the right match. Either too dark or too light. I end up mixing different tones. Read great reviews about Iman products on the blogosphere. I should give it a try.

    6 years ago •

  1. Alexander1

    Also can’t find the perfect colour for me

    6 years ago •

  1. The Ferosh 1

    Although I don’t mind paying money for my make up,I’ve since realised that since we woman of colour struggle to find the right shades that suit our skin colour.we pay way too much than our fair skinned sisters.take for example estee lauder foundation,works but a serious knock to a tight budget. So beauty houses need to invest more in research in existing brands like Maybelline and Revlon that are affordable for a regular woman

    6 years ago •

  1. The Ferosh 1

    Although I don’t mind paying money for my make up,I’ve since realised that since we woman of colour struggle

    6 years ago •

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