{the lessons} Buying Foundation When the Foundation is Judgy

by Rachel on April 16, 2012

I really love make-up and I love trying new brands and products. Every time I hear that a product is a “must-have” or a “cult favorite” or especially the ubiquitous “looks great on everyone,” I’m there. But sometimes I realize, no, it doesn’t look good on everyone, and if it’s a cult favorite, then that cult does not include women of color. 

I have a new post up on Color Me Rouge: Worst make-up lines for women of color. This is a topic that has been on my mind for a long time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been excited to try a new line or product, only to discover that its creators simply aren’t aware that women come in different colors, or, if they do realize this, they have very little knowledge of the nuances of dark skin (and I’m not just speaking of women of African-American descent like myself; women of color come in many colors). It’s hard not to feel judged when I try to buy make-up and the brand won’t let me.

Some beauty companies have embraced the idea of separate but equal. Cover Girl has its “Queen Collection” foundations, with two light shades and ten darker ones. While I really do appreciate that they are trying, the fact remains that their other foundation lines typically have 12-14 shades and contain only 2-3 darker shades. That means that unless I like the formula used in the Queen Collection, I’m out of luck. If I want to buy a Cover Girl foundation that’s more in line with what I’m looking for (oil-free, more coverage, anti-aging, whatever) chances are, I’ll only have two shades to choose from. While I really am happy to see that they are at least aware of the problem — perhaps they discovered it when they hired Queen Latifah and realized she couldn’t even wear all of their lines — the fact is, separate but equal just doesn’t work.

These days, I stick with Make Up Forever HD foundation. It costs an arm and a leg but I guess that’s the price I pay to not feel that sense of Oops, this foundation is judging me for thinking it’s no longer “whites only” that I experience with so many other brands.