Women and other folks of colour who use makeup know how much searching and spending it takes to come across products that might be mildly acceptable. Most mainstream brands do not cater to a wide variety of skin tones, period…much less to people of colour. Nevertheless, I have come to find hope in independent and lesser-known brands. The trick to finding the perfect shade of lipstick or foundation is just knowing where to look. Chances are there are people of colour as sick as us of looking too orange or too light and, luckily, they have done something about it. I wanted to take this chance to support them and make it a little easier for those of us searching for that one perfect shade.
I have compiled a list of seven cruelty-free, mostly indie brands in order of price range (approximately lowest to highest). These are either owned or founded by, target, or include folks of colour.
Colourpop: A California-based indie makeup brand that’s increasing in popularity lately, and for good reason. Not only do they provide quality, long-lasting products, but their prices are amazing. They are known for their $5 lipsticks, or Lippie Stix. The rest of their products, including their beautifully pigmented shadows, also range from $5-$8. What is more useful about Colourpop to women of colour is that they provide products suitable to many skin tones.
Milani: More of an easily accessible brand than some of the others on this list because you can buy it locally at drugstores (see: Wal-Mart for the States, and Well.ca for Canadians). Milani is affordable and is made with various skin tones and ethnicities in mind. Their powder makeup stands out for me, not just in quality but also in packaging (and we all know half of it is gorgeous packaging).
Black Opal Beauty: Black Opal was started up to address the skincare needs of people of colour. They have a great range of products and cosmetics shades for women of all skin tones, with attention to deeper shades.
Iman Cosmetics: Created and named after Somali model Iman Abdulmajid, Iman Cosmetics is another brand suitable for women of varying ethnicities and shades. It is fairly affordable, at your average price point.
EX1 Cosmetics: If you have yellow undertones, look no further. EX1 Cosmetics is made for olive skin tones, so coupled with their price point, they’re a treasure to me. Through Look Fantastic, a UK-based site that offers free worldwide shipping, the EX1 foundation comes to approximately $25 CAD.
Beauty Bakerie: Beauty Bakerie is Black owned and sweets-themed (so, perfect). It’s also home of the Lip Whip: matte liquid lipstick that will not come off. Suitable for creating the perfect lip and going out for burgers, worry free. If that’s not incentive enough, there’s no hope for you.
Hue Noir: Paula Hayes, chemist and C.E.O., is a Black woman who began the brand to cater to women of colour, especially those with deeper skin tones. Among their other promises to customers, one includes being the main fashion makeup resource for women of colour. I find Hue Noir and Paula Hayes to be especially inspirational in the fashion and makeup industry because they do not hide the fact that they are here for Black women and other women of colour.