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I’ve seen the future of foundation and it’s darker

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 CosmeticsI 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.

For now, they don’t yet go as dark as the typically West Indian or African complexion.

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

Girl, you’ve come a long way babe.

Check out my Pinterest HERE for more positive and inspirational representations of black culture.


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  1. I love how brands are finally catching on with this, as a black woman I’ve been disappointed many a time at how I’ve had problems with finding a shade that suits me so I’ll definitely be paying a visit to my Chanel counter soon and getting myself a foundation.

    All that needs to be done now is to bring out BB Creams that suit women of colour. I’ve never used a BB Cream due to not being able to find one that suits me, and many women feel the same way.

  2. At last!

    As a darker skinned, mixed race woman, I’ve had to shop at department stores for foundations because of their greater shade ranges over the years. Thankfully, drugstore makeup brands are now expanding their colour ranges and supplying testers. There’s been a lot of improvement at less expensive price ranges as well.

  3. Nadira V Persaud

    I could have done with this post 20 years ago but hurrah it has arrived. No mention of Iman which has to be one of my favourites, especially the new formulas. As I tweeted so many well known brands have developed dark shades for such a long time but not made any steps to market them, ie. Clinique. I too have issues with MAC formulations but it seems to be the ‘darker’ choice, hopefully this post will see the masses converted.
    In terms of the campaigns, it is nice to see an array of women of all shades, after all we are all a mix of some sort!

    • Kay

      I like a lot of the Iman range, the loose powders and foundation sticks but thought the liquid foundations were a bit grey..

    • I agree with everything you’ve just said. Iman’s a fantastic brand, my mother who’s about a gazillion shades lighter than me recommended I try it and I loved it; also being a Somali woman myself, I like how Iman’s catering to the many complex shades of women of colour, and Somali women too.

      I also have problems with MAC; they’re either far too dark or too light.

    • - I totally know what you mean by the sneteiry of sitting quietly alone with a subject that sits still and moves to your every direction. so glad you joined us for this challenge, I love that you sliced your pears and you can see every detail. You have a wonderful eye Elaine!

  4. Great post Kay! A woman after my own heart. The UK beauty industry is making progress, much more to be done, but as we all work together – MUAs, journos, brands and retailers – it will be even better!

  5. Nadira V Persaud

    The reformulated Iman liquid foundations are illuminating, maybe you’ve not tried them for some time. Worth taking another look. I actually find the Becca ones to be grey for darker tones.

  6. It has been a very long time coming. As a teenager my sister could never find any makeup in the highstreet and had to buy from a lady that would sell imported makeup from the US in the local market- flori roberts, iman, even the darker shades that elizabeth arden, maybelline etc did not stock in the UK. That stall still has customers queuing up to this day.
    I’m glad that progress is finally being made, it can be annoying and disingenuous when brands like YSL will claim such silly things like “we didn’t have the technology before” to make darker shades of their touch eclat. Yeah right.

    I remember reading somewhere, i think mintel too, that black women spend double or triple the amount on beauty products in the UK than white women, and i know this is true.

    I think it has been a lack of advertising. i remember a popular brand stocked in superdrug/boots etc came out with a range for darker skins a couple of years ago ( the mode used to illustrate the brand l looked like cheryl cole!)
    They need to actually market directly to “us”. This is rarely done. Thats why you see women crowded round the mac counter( where all black women are 2 shades) because they don’t know and often the beauty counter staff will make you look foolish.

    sorry for the rant and i agree that iman can be ashy and orange, but i like her lipsticks, her foundations just don’t suit me.

  7. Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a entirely different subject but it has
    pretty much the same page layout and design. Excellent choice of colors!

    my web-site – 激安 バッグ 品質合格

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