Beauty, Beauty + Vogue

Desi women are ignored by the makeup industry, and we’re tired of it

The day you learn about my skin tone is the day I'll be okay with you doing my makeup.

Stop assuming skin color isn’t complex! When I first started working in the makeup industry, one of the hardest struggles that I had was finding the perfect foundation.

It took me years to finally acquire a foundation routine that would actually make my skin look flawless. I also learned that it doesn’t take long for companies to jump on a bandwagon. Whenever a new makeup trend comes out, every company is quick to release products, and at this point, multiple companies have basically released the same products.

It’s not enough to feature a dark skinned model to represent your brand and call it a day. Click To Tweet

When bold brows became super popular, every company came out with new brow stuff. When contour was the new trend, every single makeup brand came out with a contour kit, with nearly identical shades. Practically every company has come out with a kit for everything.

Similarly, since #NotMyNude got everyone’s attention, every company started introducing more shades in their foundations.

But honestly, makeup companies have failed to recognize all the beautiful, diverse skin tones within the women of color community.

The day you learn about my skin tone, is the day I'll be okay with you doing my makeup. Click To Tweet

One basic lesson about foundation is that you have to find your undertone before you choose your foundation, for you may be yellow or more pink. A basic way to figure this out is to look at the veins on your wrist – if they appear blue, you have pink undertone. If they appear green, you’re more yellow and if you see both, you’re neutral. All major makeup companies are notorious for assuming the undertones for specific shade ranges.

They assume that most people in the mid-tan tone area will be yellow and anything on the darker end will be red – which, by the way, is bullshit. It drives me up the wall when makeup artists assume that I have a yellow undertone when I’m clearly neutral. Like, come on.

Out of all the brands out there, Make Up Forever is the only brand that has equal amount of shades in both yellow and pink undertones for mid-tan toned people. Otherwise, anytime I’ve purchased a shade that’s “Golden Beige” or “Medium Tan,” it turns my face into an orange ball, which is totally unattractive.

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Over the past years, many articles have spoke up about how brands are finally starting to include darker shades. But it’s not enough to feature a dark skinned model to represent your brand and call it a day – you have to deliver the product.

Many makeup brands have promoted celebrities of color to model for their brand, yet their products don’t necessarily work for most colored women. It’s a major struggle to find a shade that matches your skin in an industry which mostly seems to cater to predominantly white women as a default. It’s amazing to see that brands are trying hard to include various shades of color – but after all these years, they shouldn’t need to be “working on it” – they should already cater to all women regardless of color.

It’s not enough to feature a dark skinned model to represent your brand and call it a day. Click To Tweet

Apart from different undertones, I feel like a lot of times makeup artists don’t truly understand the struggles of brown women in navigating makeup. If you’re not a mid-toned Indian woman, you won’t understand my struggle of having darker pigmentation around the mouth while having a lighter center of the face – but extremely dark circles at the same time (that are hereditary, hence why I can’t get rid of them).

So when Indian/Pakistani women walk into your store or makeup counter and ask about working with an Indian artist, they’re not joking, nor are they trying to be offensive. If you’re a light skinned makeup artist, don’t be offended. It’s just that you don’t get it. A lot of white women have skin issues of their own, but they’re certainly not the same. And it’s because they don’t have to use two different shades of foundation, a concealer, AND a corrector to get an even complexion. I’m not trying to be bitter, but most of my experiences with white makeup artists haven’t been pleasant.

If you're a light skinned makeup artist, don't be offended. It's just that you don't get it. Click To Tweet

The company that I work for loves to gift us the products that we sell, that way we get to try everything out, and since we don’t work on commission, it’s meant to balance it out (not that it does but whatever). Whenever we receive foundations, I seem to get stuck with shades that are clearly five shades too dark, as they’ve assumed that because I’m of an Indian descent, I’m obviously darker. I remember when I had one of my white coworkers match me to a foundation – she picked the 2nd darkest shade and exclaimed how it was perfect … and it was about 6 shades too dark!

Whenever we receive foundations, I get stuck with shades that are five shades too dark. Click To Tweet

It’s easy to look at this situation and say that women of color are picky, but the truth is, no one knows how to work with our skin tones yet. The day you learn about my skin tone is the day I’ll be okay with you doing my makeup.

Narmeen Saiyed

Narmeen Saiyed

Editorial Fellow Narmeen Saiyed is an almost graduate with a BioSci degree who has a knack for all sorts of makeup, skincare and snapchat filter applications. She also enjoys the smell of books and coffee.

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