In the past, it seemed like foundation only looked natural if your skin tone was a similar shade to the Duchess of Cambridge's nude stilettos circa 2015. Thankfully make-up brands have finally realised that skin doesn't just come in 50 shades of beige.
That said, while there is more variety to choose from than ever before, the advice Black and Asian consumers receive on how to choose foundation for their skin tones is still stuck in the past.
Shopping for make-up should be a fun experience, but for many Black and Asian women, it can be stressful and expensive. If you go into a department store, the vast array of products on display is dazzling, but trying to explain your needs as a woman of colour is tricky at best.
Techniques used to colour-match foundation are very much geared towards Caucasian skin tones. They're aimed at replicating Western standards of beauty, so often you can end up with the same muddy coloured foundation that leaves your skin looking flat and two-dimensional.
In a post-Fenty world, it is unfair that when it comes to shopping for what is arguably the biggest investment in your make-up bag, women of colour are being left out of the conversation.
It’s not just make-up counters either. When you see adverts for beauty box subscriptions or the latest colour-match innovation, most Black and Asian women will get that sinking feeling and know it’s off limits to them.
Even celebrities are not immune. Big names such as Naomi Campbell have spoken about having to bring their own foundation to photo shoots because make-up artists simply didn’t know how to deal will ethnic skin.
'The beauty shopping experience for Black and Asian women is very different to that of white women. You can’t just walk into a department store and expect to find your shade,' make-up artist Angel Aculey told Red.
'Brands still believe if they include a few darker shades, they have ticked the inclusivity box and that’s simply not good enough,' she adds. 'There’s no training which specifically concentrates on foundation matching for darker skin tones. Often, I see make-up and know straight away that dark skinned women were not the target market. This stems from what is deemed desirable from the beauty industry’s perspective.'
While we all love the extra melanin that gives us tanned skin all year round, it brings its own set of issues such as hyperpigmentation, which means BAME skin tones often react differently to products on sale.
'You can’t have a one-size-fits-all attitude to matching foundation,' says make-up artist Joyce Connor.
'BAME customers tend to have hyperpigmentation leading to different blocks of colour, and will need at least two shades to colour correct and match. Foundations can dry darker too, so it’s a different shade to what they started with.'
HOW TO COLOUR MATCH FOUNDATION TO DARKER SKIN TONES
How can Black and Asian women find the right foundation? Firstly, you need to understand your undertones. This is the base shade under your colour and one of the most common mistakes made by women is the assumption that darker skin tones are on the warmer end of the spectrum: this isn’t always the case.
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'A shade range cannot simply range from light to dark in terms of shade depth,' Terry Barber, director of artistry for MAC, explains. 'It’s much more complex. An example would be someone from Latin America compared to someone from South East Asia. In terms of depth, their skin could be assumed to be the same colour, but in terms of undertone they’re completely different.'
The best way to work out your skin undertone is by looking at your wrists – if your veins are bluish, you have cool undertones and if they are more green, you have warm undertones. If you are a mixture of the two, then you are neutral.
Pigments in deeper shades are much more prone to oxidising, so when testing foundation, swatch it on your cheek, not your jawline and leave it on for at least an hour to see how it settles and reacts to the skin.
Darker skin tones are multi-dimensional, and often Black and Asian women will have a lighter T-section and darker tones around the outside. Don’t be scared to use highlighters and contouring to bring it together.
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Ultimately, with so much investment In product design and marketing, when it comes to the consumer experience, women of colour shouldn’t feel that they are left to fend for themselves.
Many Black and Asian consumers feel more needs to be done to support them when it comes to choosing products to ensure diversity is more than a marketing gimmick.
'It’s still the norm to assume that matching non-white skin is "difficult" and an unreasonable thing to expect at a makeup counter,' says make-up artist and diversity activist Umber Ghauri.
'Brands are not doing enough anti-racism training to ensure people with darker skin are also treated well by staff. Brands are also clearly not testing their shade ranges on enough people of colour to ensure their deeper shades actually match people’s skin tone.'
Ultimately, the role of foundation in your make-up routine is to make you feel comfortable in the skin you’re in. If shopping for it doesn’t make you feel good about your skin, it’s not doing it’s job before you’ve even opened the lid.
THE BEST FOUNDATIONS FOR DARKER SKIN TONES
SHOP NOW £27, Harvey Nichols
Loved for both its quality and its ethos, the Pro Filt’r Foundation is one of the bestsellers in Rihanna's range for good reason. It has a flattering matte texture without looking cakey, and is ideal for oily or combination skin. If your skin is dry, Fenty Beauty's Pro Filt’r Hydrating Longwear Foundation is a good alternative.
SHOP NOW £31, Feel Unique
This foundation has a light, creamy texture that is easy to blend and gives you full coverage without heaviness. As a mineral foundation, it also has lots of benefits to your skin –it's gentle enough for the most sensitive, and won't clog pores.
SHOP NOW £12.50, Look Fantastic
EX1 Cosmetics is an affordable beauty brand that can stand up to the most luxurious. Created by former biochemist, Farah Naz, after she became frustrated by the lack of foundations for olive skin tones, the range has plenty of celebrity fans including Priyanka Chopra.
This easy-to-blend foundation gives good coverage and uses encapsulated pigment technology to prevent oxidisation when it comes into contact with the skin’s natural oils. It is particularly good for olive skin tones.
SHOP NOW £27, Look Fantastic
With a whopping 68 shades in the range (and counting), MAC is a favourite among many women of darker skin. The brand was one of the first to really focus on the effects of your undertones on your finished look and, for many, it was also the first that came close to matching their skin tone. Studio Fix is a favourite because it's easy to blend and gives full coverage which still looks natural.
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