Momentous, cosmetic shifts. I’m genuinely not being sarcastic when I say it’s as though suddenly, in the last year, someone has informed the beauty brands that there are black people in Britain. ‘Hey, I’m over here!’
Everywhere you look, women of colour (not in the darkest variety I know- but baby steps ladies-it’s going to happen!) are being represented on the sides of British buses, all over the glossies and at Boots ‘the chemist’ counters.
Maybe Mintel told them that mixed-race people are the fastest growing minority in the UK or heard the recent research by the BBC that the mixed-race population is now near 2 million.
When I was a kid there was the Fashion Fair cosmetic range which had a sophisticated and colour-true range of foundations and although I’m light-skinned (my father’s mixed race, Trinidadian-born) I loved the eyeshadows and blushers because the pigment was so dense. Plus it was the 80′s and I was all over the plastic pink packaging.
Since then, great products for women of colour have been randomly discovered amongst the bizarre attempts by laboratories to replicate the hues within darker skin. Dark- beige seems to have been the consensus. Hey Mr Lab man, I’m not dark beige!
Mac is a trailblazing brand but I’ve never found the foundation formulas to be as high in quality as those I use by Chanel, Estee Lauder and MyFace.
As for concealers, Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier and YSL now have a superb range of colour matches for darker skins and although I like Iman’s loose powder, and respect her as a woman, I was a little disappointed by the foundations, I found them a little ashy.
Oddly, it has been an Australian brand Becca, designed by Rebecca Morrice Williams that’s been the ‘face-saver’ when working with subjects such as Sophie Okenado, Thandie Newton, Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell.
Isn’t it ironic that the products I’ve relied on the most for darker skins in the past decade have been designed by a fair-skinned Australian.
Another brand that have noticed the gap in the market for brown faces has been MyFace Cosmetics. I am their creative director so if you don’t believe me- try it! You’ll love it. MyMix foundation is a big industry fave and their medium/dark range is perfect for Indian and mixed-race complexions.
Being a Chanel Ambassador, I was thrilled when this luxury heritage brand of great influence and prestige finally brought out a range of foundations to suit dark skintones. Peter Phillips, global brand ambassador for Chanel cosmetics said “since joining the brand in 2008, I’ve made it my goal to create a perfect foundation; one that adjusts to the skin needs of every ethnicity and stays in place with a flawless finish”.
A selection of the 16 shades of Perfection Lumiere Fluide Foundation available in the UK
Trinidadian model Alissa Ali shot by Solve Sundsbo for the recent campaign
Meanwhile in 2009 the Dominican Republic’s Arlenis Sosa became the face of Lancome, soon afterwards Beyonce the face of L’Oreal, then in Spring 2011, Britain’s own Jourdan Dunn (below) became the face of YSL’s Touche Eclat, shot by Terry Richardson.
I’m kind of amazed of how little has been made of this in the UK press because it looks like a pretty monumental acknowledgment to me. The media has remarked more on the economic global market angle, the recognition of Asia as the new super economy etc with beauty brands using Asian models such as Liu Wen. My point is slightly different, it’s more about celebrating what the UK has been for decades; a place full of a fabulous variety of differently coloured people, who have made a huge impact on our culture. And they too are beautiful.
For a West Londoner like me, who has had the pleasure of being brought up around every type of culture and economic status, it’s great to see more of what’s made Britain an inspiring place for me to have grown up in. Jourdan Dunn below
The late Naomi Simms, ‘the first black supermodel’ who graced the cover of Life magazine in the 1960′s would be so happy to see the beautiful black women who are now the faces of brands traditionally catering to wealthy white women. Click her name above for more.
Arlenis Sosa below
Check out my Pinterest HERE for more positive and inspirational representations of black culture.