Photograph by Devon Lach
In college, I was doing a photoshoot and was appalled when a makeup artist showed up to set unprepared to do makeup for the dark skinned black woman I had cast for the shoot—she didn't have a dark enough range of colors in her kit. It was uncomfortable for everyone and I was heartbroken. Luckily the model was a champ, we did the shoot anyway and she looked beautiful but it opened my eyes to an element of privilege and discrimination that I been naive enough not to perceive.
After this incident, I began looking around and realized how few makeup options there were for women with darker skin. Often times a company offers a range of lighter to tan tones and then one catch all dark skin tone, assuming that after a certain point all dark skin tones are the same.
This isn't just problematic for women with darker skin tones. It is also problematic for those of us supporting these brands that are expressing underlying racist principles by not offering inclusive makeup.
Overt racism is easier to spot, call out and oppose but in order to see real change, it is just as necessary to oppose the "small" elements of racism in our everyday lives. Imagine that tomorrow your local coffee shop started refusing to serve a specific demographic. Most people easily recognize this as racist practices and would stop giving their money to this coffee shop.
We should conceptualize the lack of inclusive makeup the same way; by refusing to offer a wide range of skin tones the makeup company is essentially saying that they won't serve women with those skin tones. We should choose to support companies that provide services for all women, not just white women.
Finding awesome companies to support can be overwhelming so here are some of my favorite sustainable makeup brands that offer inclusive makeup lines.
Mented is a black-owned makeup company founded by KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson. After realizing that they couldn’t find a nude lipstick that worked with their skin tones they founded a brand with makeup that works with a range of complexions. All lipsticks are vegan, paraben-free, non-toxic and cruelty free.
Rituel de Fille was founded by three badass sisters and offers makeup for a wide range of skin tones made with natural ingredients. Explore their ingredients page to learn exactly what you are putting on your face every day.
Alima Pure prides themselves on making natural makeup that will last you throughout the day while using the least number of ingredients possible. Their matte foundation comes in 45 different shades for every skin color.
Kjaer Weis takes sustainability to another level with their intelligent refill system; when you run out just order a refill instead of throwing an entire compact in the trash. Their use of certified natural and organic ingredients is an added bonus. Tones range from silken to perfection for women of all skin tones.
Beautycounter was started by Gregg Renfrew after realizing that many of the products she was putting on herself and her kids contained unsafe ingredients. Beautycounter is her answer to the United States' lax regulation on personal care ingredients, following the European regulators who have banned 1400 ingredients while the US has banned 30. Women with dark or light skin will find a match with their foundations and coverups.
Vapour Organic Beauty uses plant essences that will make your skin more radiant all the time, not just when you are wearing makeup...but when you do want to wear makeup you have 19 shades of foundation to choose from.