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Insights on the current color cosmetics for Women of Color

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The makeup industry has made strides to become more inclusive and cater for women of all skin tones. However, lurking beneath the surface of this celebration is a not-so-secret story of isolation and racism, with black women and those with darker skin tones systematically left out of beauty in advertising, product innovation and recruitment for decades, which means more need to be done in women of color category.

Karim Orange, Consultant and Clean Beauty Makeup Artist, shared us 5 insights on color cosmetics for Women of Color through Cosmetics Design. “Women of color spend more money on personal care products, AKA beauty products than every other group combined. African American women, specifically by the year 2021, will have spent $1.5 trillion on personal care products. So our voice and how we've marketed it to is very important.” She began her sharing.

What are brands getting right about color cosmetics for Women of Color?

Brands such as Gabriel Cosmetics are really getting it correct when it comes to creating color cosmetics for women of color, as Orange said. Because they will reach out to somebody that identifies as a woman of color and ask for advice on ‘how do we market this?’, ‘What is the best way to say this?’, ‘Is this offensive?’ In the meanwhile, she pointed out a lot of brands fall very short when it comes to hiring marketing consultants for, specifically, products that they're gearing towards women of color. And she thinks “it boils down to who you have on your staff that identifies or that can suggest the right shades.”

Whats the best approach to choosing colors or formulating for a universal shade range?

The surge of universal shades that you're seeing in color cosmetics is amazing, said Orange. As a makeup artist, she has always relied on universal shades in her professional kit, because it's easier to carry around 5 products, as opposed to 10 products. So when you're thinking about universal shades, it's definitely things like bronze and gold, and things that may help the skin look like sun. Everybody loves the way they look a little bit of sun. So products you see in nature, deep shades of brown, even blue and green sometimes can be universal, because sometimes it's not the shade, it's the application and how you apply it. Orange thinks all brands should have universal shades.

What makeup trends matter most to Women of Color?

Women of color don't follow trends as much, Orange thinks. Usually when finding beauty products really working for them, they like to stick to that. Some of the stable trends, definitely things that define the eyebrow and color correction, are trends that keep kind of evolving.

How does skin care figure into a conversation about color cosmetics for Women of Color?

Orange thinks when it comes to skin care for women of color, it's very universal. As we all know, our skin care needs are definitely the same; if you have dry skin, no matter what color you are, you have dry skin, or if you have oily skin; the list goes on. and she thinks that there are certain products that are geared and aimed towards women of color that have to do with light skin lightener and things like that. Those are specifically geared towards women of color, and a lot of brands are including those types of products, even within their color line.

Meanwhile, she figured out a lot of the stellar ingredients come from places that women of color are from, such as India, Africa, Asia, making skin care pretty much universal, except the lightening products.

What is still needed in this category?

Orange highlighted again the importance of hiring women of color, instead of talking about the product itself. What's missing in color cosmetics for women of color, is something that I've always felt has been missing; that is really calling colors something that we would call them if we were speaking to ourselves, and also the imagery that you're seeing, as she said, needs to change. “Look at that very deep woman” is not an expected description for any women of color. It’s a good time for beauty brands to consider the importance of have women of color on staff.

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