The darker skin dilemma

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!


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.


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


32 Responses

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

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