As I walked in, late nonetheless, to my Affordable Beauty Class with celebrity Makeup artist A.J. Crimson, I was stunned to see that over 70% of the class were African-American women and not just African-American women, but dark-skinned African-American women. The media often ignores the vast hues in the Black skin color spectrum, leaving those darker than a walnut brown to fend for themselves. With models like Alek Wek walking for Chanel and Oluchi Onweagba modeling for Victoria's Secret, you'd think that we'd be more educated and have more options for the higher end of the color spectrum, but alas no. And no oasis was found at the Affordable Beauty clinic as we watched A.J. delightfully shade and contour a fair skinned participant, but could not display the same effect on an ebony shaded beauty who volunteered to be made up by him. The frustration in her voice at her dissapoinment in not being shaded and contoured as her counterpart was shared by many in the room. His directions called for using the darkest makeup you could find to create cheekbones and shading, but what about when you ARE the deepest shade in the spectrum? What then? As a YOUTUBE specialist, I knew that there were other artists who excelled where A.J. did not. I passed the info of several artists, not as well known as A.J., who specialized in creating the looks darker skinned Black women desire.
The next sin made by A.J. was his denouncement of MAC cosmetics. *!GASP!* As instructed , all the women brought their current make-up bags for his perousal. As the group began to ask questions, of course he pushed his own product line and those used by industry professionals. But when asked which MAC products he endorsed. He asked, "Who wears MAC anymore?" Stunned, we were to afraid to answer our makeup idol, but collectively our silence whimpered "We do!". The woman next to me whispered,"I love MAC and I'm not gonna stop wearing it for nobody!". I smiled politey at her comment and then I began to wonder, 'Well, why were we wearing MAC cosmetics? Was AJ right? Were we wearing MAC even though their shades did not match our skin color and/or tone and their colors and products were unwearable and overpriced based on the amount purchased and performance? Were we victims to sleek packaging and marketing efforts that told us subliminally, even though common sense told us otherwise, we needed MAC products to be sought after and beautiful even though the products don't work? And for those that claim it does, do we really believe that in order to be inclusive in some ultimate makeup click, selectively pulling our MAC brushes and lip glosses from our purses for status rather than effectiveness? The answer was .....yes.
Since Duane Reade launched "The LOOK Boutique", I've been a fan, especially since they had the fortitude to launch BECCA cosmetics, a line that offers skin tone and color selections, which is important in a multi-ethnic and hued society. Ever wondered why a base/foundation that is your color doesn't work? It's because it doesn't match your skin tone. It's expensive to expand a color foundation based on both tones and color, but it is achievable and it is done. True enough the more expensive a line is(think NARS or Giorgio Armani) or exclusive(think Guerlain or Fashion Fair), the more likely they employ this effort, but BECCA does this at a reasonable cost level(it's not cheap though). The LOOK Boutique also offers other non-SEPHORA endorsed products that work for ethnic or multi-racial skin, but without the sleek advertising, marketing and fanfare surrounded by the likes of MAC, Clinique or Bobbi Brown.
One weekend after attending the workshop, I went to the LOOK Boutique counter to purchase a lip liner and gloss from the Vera Moore line, I asked the beauty counter representative which lines she likes that is offered in the store. Her reply? "None". she said. When I asked, she replied, "There's just nothing that excites me about any of these lines." Intrigued, I asked, " Which lines do excite you? " Clinique, MAC, any of the lines at Sephora, some drugstore brands." I looked the associate over . Such a pretty girl, but such a poorly made-up face. The "exciting" lines she was using did nothing for her. Her technique was okay, but her skin was ashy and mis-colored. Her eye makeup was poorly done, flaking, fading and not becoming for her. Her lipstick was so far out of her skin tone family, it stood out like a horrible mistake that was made just before she left the house. Mind you, her shift had just started and she probably left her home an hour ago. To be included in makeup "excitement" she was willing to look a hot mess. I could not understand why she would purchase a base and powder that no more matched her skin color than an elephant's for the sake of purchasing a name brand that was well-known. Especially when BECCA and Vera Moore had her EXACT shade and tone right there in front of her.
"Did you at least try some of these cosmetics here? As a WOC, I find them to be more suitable for our skin tones/color than some of the more well-known brands." I say to her.
"No, I didn't try them. I'm just not interested since I've never heard of them. I heard of BECCA when it was at SEPHORA, but I never got a chance to try it." If I wasn't in a hurry, I would've strapped that chick down and re-did her face right there.It was one thing to have mis-matched foundation and powder b/c that's the best you can do, but to do it just to say you have such and such in your make-up kit while you look foolish is a complete 'nother. This young woman saved my life. I knew right then,I had to put makeup that didn't work for me DOWN no matter what the label read.
Because of this encounter I decided to write some rules to make sure that I never fall prey to makeup marketing schemes that don't work for me. If you agree to these rules, help spread the news. BTW, it's okay if you wear MAC in 2010, 2011 and beyond, as long as the hype doesn't sprinkle stars in your eyes convincing you that it looks good on you when it doesn't and doesn't stop you from looking for something that may very well be better.
Yes, it can be overwhelming, but lucky for you, you are living in the age of blogs and YouTube videos. Most makeup mavens have done the research for you. Make sure you subscribe to bloggers who are not paid or compensated for their opinion of beauty products. Remember, trained makeup and beauty artists can make ANYTHING work, so if all they have to give is praise, look for another written or video blogger who can give you an honest opinion of what a product can or can't do.
2)The price does NOT matter, the effectiveness does.
With the exception of very sensitive skin, most of us can wear any drugstore brand available. While the metaphoric high of purchaseing MAC and any product from the makeup counter at Nordstrom's or SEPHORA is addictive, beware the train of thought that the more you pay for it, the better it is. That is not always the case when it comes to makeup. Born with hereditary dark circles under my eyes, I searched high and low for a concealer that not only matched my skin tone/color, but with the perfect consistency to not run or rub off during the day(or night). After paying $55, $35, $28 for high end concealers that did not work time after time, a makeup artist suggested a drugstore brand, Posner cover creme. It cost just $8 and is the best thing that ever happened to me. When people ask me why my skin looks perfect, I tell them this story. While I swear by it, it doesn't work for everyone. The moral of the story is, find something that works for you and it is not always going to be the most expensive thing on the market.
3)Pick a color that is flattering to you.
Here's the deal: The most common used makeup on runways are drugstore brands mixed with professional makeup artists tricks products. All makeup is not developed with everyone in mind. It would be impossible to do so. So although, there are some blushes and lipsticks advertised as universally flattering, believe me, there is no such thing. Someone will end up looking weird. With that in mind, know that some poeple do not look good in frosty eyeshadows, satin colors look best on dewy skin, therefore if your skin is dry, you need shimmer. Yes, you can wear pink, but pick a pink shade that is flattering to you. Just because Disco Pink is in season, does not mean its for you.
4) DO NOT get sucked into name brands and slick advertising schemes.
The purpose of this rule is not to downplay MAC, Bobbi Brown or any other well-known brand or high volume selling drugstore cosmetic. Look, I'm no different than you. I use MAC and Clinique products. What I do want to impress upon you, is that once the marketing facade fades, you have to come to the conclusion of if the product not only works, but works for you. If it does what I need it to do then I'm fine with whatever high-end, mid-or low-end product I buy. Not only that, but I try to be fiscally smart with my makeup as well. I love Dior mascara, but buying a $30 mascara every 3-4 months is out of the question. I find that Maybelline makes a mascara that does the same, if not better, for 1/5 of the price. While I loved taking the Dior out of my makeup bag (let's face it: some luxury makeup just makes you FEEL good),I know the SMART thing was to stick to my drugstore brand and flaunt that!
What I hope you take away from this to not let MAC or any other highly marketed makeup line be your holy grail for makeup and cosmetic products.
Stop being a line only fanatic and be a "ME" fanatic. Don't talk about the latest product out, but the latest product you've tried or seen that may work for you. Don't let a makeup line define if you're a diva or not. Let the definition be read in how good you look with what works on you.