“One night over a glass of pinot, we sat down and asked ourselves why it was so hard to find the perfect nude lipstick. That conversation sparked an idea, and that idea became the brand we are building today. We created Mented Cosmetics because we believe every woman should be able to find herself in the world of beauty, no matter her skin tone. We know you’ll love being put first – because when it comes to beauty, no one deserves to be an afterthought.”
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #41 series on my blog.
“From our original nude lipsticks to eyeshadow palettes to blushes, each of our makeup products is perfectly pigMented to match your skin tones. We want all women, from light to tan to dark skin tones, to feel like they have makeup that actually works for their complexions, so we’ve created the shades to help accomplish that. Start with our shade finder to find your perfect match and then begin building your collection today! We guarantee you’ll find your new go-to or a fun addition to your makeup routine.”
Self-Taught. Makeup Artist. Photographer. Entrepreneur. Founder. Mother. Black woman.
In a world focused on labels, Danessa Myricks has continuously broken boundaries and built a world of beauty for people from all races, ages and genders.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #34 series on my blog.
Starting out as a self-taught makeup artist, Danessa learned how to use products in unconventional ways to create stunning looks. Ignoring industry norms, she began to teach other artists about her techniques and product selections, and created a name for herself in the beauty world. After turning heads at some of the largest brands, Danessa led product development for some of the most successful launches in history at brands like KISS and Benefit Cosmetics. But she knew the world of makeup still felt exclusive to many, so she decided to launch her own brand, Danessa Myricks Beauty. Every product developed by Danessa and her team isn’t designed for just one application. All products by Danessa Myricks Beauty are multi-functional and created to work in multiple places and on all faces. Creatively combining artistry with product manipulation, she designs and launches some of the most high-performance products on the market.
Danessa has created looks for celebrities, worked with entertainers in music and film and collaborates with other brands and artists to push the beauty industry forward. She trains makeup artists and enthusiasts worldwide and continues to create some of the most innovative and inclusive beauty products on the market. But the most rewarding part of her work is hearing from people who felt underrepresented, unseen or ignored by beauty brands who finally land at a brand made for all, Danessa Myricks Beauty.
Beauty can feel like an exclusive world. Danessa Myricks Beauty was founded on the principle that race, gender, age and personal style should not limit anyone from experimenting with makeup and discovering their signature look. When we launched we reimagined what makeup can be and developed innovative multifunctional products that work everyplace on every face. Our high-performing products give makeup artists and consumers alike the freedom to play outside the box.
“As a self-taught artist with limited resources, I had to get creative with the products I had access to. Over the years I learned how to create stunning looks while using products in unconventional ways. When I launched my own brand I knew I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing. I wanted every person to feel like they had found a brand that represented them and gave them freedom to enjoy makeup. I love that no one else makes products like we do and we will continually strive to innovate in the beauty space.”
Danessa Myricks Beauty has taken makeup out of the box.
All are invited to discover an inclusive world of beauty with no boundaries.
Black consumers are calling for a movement, not a moment. Welcome to Artist Spotlight #26 series on my blog.
The year was 2018. Beyonce delivered one of her most historic performances as the first Black woman to headline a set at Coachella. Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians premiered to fanfare proving that, contrary to popular belief, films with a leading cast of color have global appeal. Yet even though 2018 was a landmark year for representation in various industries, the beauty industry missed the memo.
At the top of the year, Tarte unveiled its new 15-shade Shape Tape Foundation range, where only two shades were designed for darker complexions, a negligent move given that Fenty Beauty debuted just months before with a revolutionary 40-shade collection that was ultimately dubbed #TheFentyEffect. It Cosmetics, BeautyBlender, and several other brands missed the mark, too. How, in 2018, were Black women still fighting to reform the beauty standards that continually fail to recognize consumers beyond “medium tan,” “warm honey,” and “almond?”
In August 2018, seven Black influencers—Monica Veloz, Ofunne Amaka, Jessie Woo, Tiara Willis, Armanda Tounghui, Shanygne Maurice, and Cydnee Black—answered the same question POC have been pondering for years: “Why is it still a struggle to find foundation for dark skin?”
“When you walk into these beauty corporations, you’ll most likely see a white-dominated office space so, because there aren’t a lot of black voices at the table, there isn’t anyone to say, ‘Hey, this launch is not okay,’ or ‘You need to do something different because these shades are not diversified,'” Willis, founder of the popular Twitter and Instagram account @MakeupForWOC, said at the time. Transparency in companies’ hiring process and leadership board is just as important as delivering a diverse shade range.
Now, two years later, the beauty industry is in the midst of a reckoning. Following an outcry from consumers and influencers, a slew of brands began broadening their offerings and campaigns to be more inclusive. But sometimes their efforts verge on the performative: In June 2020, as the nation broke out in protests in response to the senseless killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and other acts of violence by police and white supremacists, brands flocked to social media in droves to lend support to the Black community, issuing statements of solidarity and pledges to be more inclusive in the name of being “woke.” There were also many brands who remained mum in the face of social injustice, revealing that if they didn’t care about Black consumers before—both on the shelves and in boardrooms—why would they start now?
UOMA Beauty founder Sharon Chuter launched Pull Up for Change in response to the brands’ silence, an initiative demanding that companies come forward with a demographic breakdown of their employees to demonstrate they’re more than just talk. Once a buzzword brands used to hide behind their shortcomings, will inclusivity move beyond trend to become an ongoing movement?
Would you say the beauty industry is still failing people with darker skin tones?
I would say no, it’s not failing us but I feel brands are getting a little bit too comfortable. With everything going on with Black Lives Matter movement, we’re seeing an uprising happening, and within that uprising demanding for basic human rights, we’re also seeing a lot of calls to action for black creators, creators of color. And in that, you’re seeing so many disparities that still happen behind the scenes that haven’t been addressed.
On the surface, yes, we’re getting more foundation shades and better campaigns, so brands have made a lot of progress. But that’s not to say Black people can relax now. No, we have to keep demanding that if you’re going to launch something that has 60 shades, make sure all the shades are available in-store and that people know how to find their shade—that’s one of the areas of the makeup industry that almost never gets talked about, the in-store experience. Retailers will say, “Oh, we can’t have this many shades because of the space,” or “These units don’t sell.” That relationship between the brand and the retailer, and that relationship between the retailer and the consumer needs to be worked on more.
When you put out products for people, you have to realize that there’s actually people on the other end of the buying process that will be introduced to your product for the first time. Having only select shades in stores or not enough deep shades to begin is frustrating. Is that the first impression you want to give?
This call for diversity in beauty extends beyond shade ranges to opportunities for Black creators, too. As an influencer, what has been your experience trying to obtain opportunities and ensure you’re being paid fairly?
I do all my deals on my own and it’s hard to not get taken advantage of because there isn’t a lot of transparency in terms of what’s the going rate for X, Y, Z type of project. Sometimes, people just don’t want to pay my rates. I have decide to not pursue opportunities from brands that don’t value what I’m doing, or don’t want to pay what I’m worth.
I had a post on Instagram that basically was just alluding to the fact that “diversity” has to go farther than just posting someone on your Instagram page. Are you paying them? Are you making them feel heard behind the scenes? Do they have a voice? That just goes for employees, too. Because there are sometimes the lone black employee on a team, and they might have an opinion, and it might not be heard, or they might not feel comfortable voicing it. So, we’re in a great place with that right now. A lot of people are being offered things that look like opportunities, but they’re often exploitation.
Thankfully, there’s an Instagram page called it’s Influencer Pay Gap, and people send anonymous DMs to the Instagram listing their age, race, sexual orientation, and follower count is, and how much they’ve been offered to do a project. Accounts like these are providing some transparency in terms of what people are getting offered and what people are getting paid.
What changes have you seen in the makeup industry since 2018?
Two years ago, it seemed as if every brand was in a race of who could put out the most foundation shades. And people got lost in the idea that just having a lot of foundation shades means they’ve cracked the code on diversity when, really, if the rest of your brand isn’t consistent then you didn’t do anything meaningful. There are brands that have gotten better since then. But there are some brands who either put out their inclusive shade ranges in the last two years, and didn’tkeep the same energy with concealer, bronzer, contour, etc.
Especially right now in 2020, it seems it’s the year of bronzers and every brand is putting out their own bronzer. I did a video swatching the latest bronzers and a lot of them—between their advertising and what the product actually looks like—there was a disconnect there because the shades didn’t match IRL. It goes to show how genuine some of these brands are, because if you have to Photoshop a color to make it look dark online but ashy or lighter in person, that says a lot about how a brand views us. We’re clearly not important enough for them to put any effort into making products for us.
Is there truly hope for brands to “keep the same energy” or do you feel like the same outdated outlook persists behind these launches?
Well, minimal effort was being put in before this whole “inclusive” wave. Before the Black Lives Matter movement that’s going on right now, it’s always been a thing. But before it became as widely talked about as it is right now, before George Floyd’s death, you could see that the inclusive marketing that some brands were using was already starting to die down. And I’m happy it’s been brought back up again because of the current place that we’re in right now.
You can look on a brand’s Instagram page and scroll back to 2019 and see what maybe one dark-skinned person on there, maybe throw in a couple other people of color. But a brand drops 60 foundation shades and deserves a pat on the back? That energy wasn’t being kept until right now. And right now everyone with Pull Up or Shut Up, putting out their business, brands are reaching out to black creators. Even now some people have already said that that energy has started to die down. It’s a matter of if a brand genuinely wants to do better, they’re going to. It will become clearer to see which brands hop on for the moment and then go back because championing diversity is too much work for them.
What’s your advice to the Black consumers who are finding it hard to trust any brands these days?
Write down the names and take screenshots of how brands are responding to the current climate and Pull Up or Shut Up. In a few months, revisit those brands to see if they stayed true to their words, especially since right now, we need 18 new releases. So it really puts these brands in a competitive place where they’re going to have to put your money where your mouth is, because if brand A and brand B release something, but brand B does better, then brand B is probably going to get that person’s purchase. Spend your money on brands that support you year-round, not just for the moment.
What do you want to see more of from brands moving forward?
Transparency and dialogue. In the past few weeks, there were brands that have called me and said, “Listen, we just want to hear from you and how you’re feeling.” I’m Black and it’s been awful but I’m glad brands are trying to do the work to make Black influencers feel seen and heart. I’m talking huge brands that were like “Listen, whatever it is, whatever concerns you have, whatever you need from us. We’re trying to show our support. How can we show our support?” So I want to see more brands trying to be completely transparent because I only align myself with brands that align with me as a person.
Also, diversity isn’t only a 40-plus shade range. What about the LGBTQ representation? Don’t support the LGBTQ community for just one month and then move on. I’m definitely am seeing a lot more diverse campaigns but it has to be the standard. The current uprising in beauty and the Black Lives Matter movement forced brands to really step up and realize that they need to make a change. I’m sure it scared the hell out of a lot of brands. Good for them.
As a frequent makeup shopper, where else do you see brands missing the mark?
Undertones. I think a brand came out with 100 shades but where are my undertones? To find your perfect foundation shade, you have to understand undertones. Understanding undertones makes it easier to shop online, especially now that we can’t go in stores and play in makeup or swatch. A foundation range is only as good as the undertones it offers. I’ve played with several different foundations and I still reach for my Fenty Beauty foundation because she understands my undertones. It’s lazy to throw out a foundation with limited undertones because not everyone is warm or golden honey or orange. Brands need to get specific with these shade ranges because black women, black people are not just one shade. We’re not as red. We’re made up of a range of beautiful colors and tones that should be reflected in the products we spend our money on.
What has the Pull Up or Shut Up campaign revealed to you about some of the beauty brands you’ve supported?
Basically what we already knew: There’s a real lack of diversity in the boardrooms of our favorite brands. If there’s lack of diversity, there’s going to be a lack of faith, you’re going to see a lack of ideas and a lack of understanding. If there was a black woman at that board meeting, or a black cosmetic chemist who was in there making those formulas, they would obviously be like, “Oh, I have black family members. I’m black. These shades don’t actually work on us.” And they would actually be that voice to say something.
Diversity in boardrooms is one thing, but where else are brands lacking?
It’s easy for brands to create an extensive range, but they’re not doing the necessary work to actually try it on black skin. Chemists are putting strong green undertones or pink undertones that would normally work for others, but that’s not realistic for darker skin tones. When it comes to bronzers and blushes, and the other steps of makeup, there is a lack there with finding colors that suit dark enough. Think of influencers like Nyma Tang. She had a whole video where she spent hundreds of dollars buying all the bronzes before trying them all and none of them worked for her. It’s 2020. It doesn’t make any sense.
What has the Pull Up or Shut Up campaign revealed to you most about some of the beauty brands you’ve supported?
It’s not enough for the black community that these beauty brands want to expand the shades. We want to see us represented in the offices too. We want to see black people represented on the executive board. Who are decision-makers? We want to know that you are being inclusive all the way around, not just with your shades. We want to know that black people actually have opportunities within your company. I think that this is what this movement is all about. Black women spend the most money in the beauty world, so if we’re spending the most money we need to be represented. We need to have a say so in what’s going on in these companies.
How has finding your foundation shade become easier?
Finding my shade has become easier because I’m purchasing from black beauty brands more than before. UOMA Beauty, Juvia’s Place, Fenty Beauty, there are a lot of different black owned beauty brands that are coming out and cater to us. Who can speak to our shades better than us? Shopping for my complexion is easier because I’m supporting products made for us, and by us. Just keeping it real. Pro tip: find brands that represents me and you won’t get disappointed.
What’s your general advice to brands that want to do better?
Look around your office then you’ll know where to start. See who’s not there, you know where to start. It’s that simple, really. When brands or companies try to make it seem like it’s so hard, no it’s not. Just look around. Are there black women here? No. Hire them. Where they at? Be intentional about being “inclusive”. You can’t be inclusive without being intentional. Initiatives like Sharon Chuter’s Pull Up For Change are needed. It’s going to change the hiring process. It’s going to change how these companies look at us. They’re going to have to finally look at us and say, “Okay dang, we really got to listen to these black women. We really have to listen to them because not only do they have these platforms. But then they have these platforms that can influence the buying power.”
Sephora became the first brand to join the 15 Percent Pledge. The initiative, created by Brother Vellies designer Aurora James, asks major retailers to pledge at least 15% of their shelf space to black-owned businesses. “So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space,” James wrote in the post that launched the pledge.
“We recognize how important it is to represent Black businesses and communities, and we must do better. So, we’re starting now,” Sephora wrote in an Instagram post, announcing their participation. This is hopefully only the beginning of real change to come within Sephora, and other major brands like it.
If you’re looking for what brands to support even before the 15% pledge kicks into full gear, here are 7 Black-owned beauty brands you can shop on Sephora to continue to support the Black community.
Fenty Beautyby Rihanna
Rihanna was inspired to create Fenty Beauty after years of experimenting with the best-of-the-best in beauty—and still seeing a void in the industry for products that performed across all skin types and tones. She launched a makeup line “so that people everywhere would be included,” focusing on a wide range of traditionally hard-to-match skin tones, creating formulas that work for all skin types, and pinpointing universal shades.
“This is the golden age of makeup. PAT McGRATH LABS is my Golden Revolution. The entire planet is just as cosmetics obsessed as I’ve always been. Makeup is a movement. Makeup is mesmerizing. Makeup is major. Mantra-esque, three words have repeated over and over in my mind ever since I was young. Obsession. Inspiration. Addiction. Those words became my guiding principles, my manifesto as I brought this brand to life . I wanted to capture, in a quartet of exquisite palettes, 50 legendary lipsticks, a divine dozen eyeliners and five fetish-worthy lip pencils, The Power of Transformation, The Power of Beauty; The Power of Makeup.” – Pat McGrath, CEO & Founder of PAT McGRATH LABS
After an early-twenties move to New York City forced Nancy to trade out her homemade essentials for the store-bought variety, she quickly realized that the natural hair care on the market simply did not live up to its performance claims. Armed with a tiny East Village studio apartment, her grandmother’s coveted beauty recipes and a rockstar natural chemist team, Nancy Twine founded Briogeo Hair Care.
“Adwoa beauty is a modern, non toxic, gender neutral beauty brand catering to multi-cultural hair textures. buying hair products is a choice, not a command. we empathize with your experience in using tons of products that failed to deliver the results. we’ve created a highly effective collection of products with ingredients that are concentrated, working with nature and science to bring you immediate results. we are committed to being transparent with our ingredients.”
“Our products are daily essentials for inner and outer radiance, because beauty and balance start from within. Golde was founded by Trinity Mouzon in 2016 with the vision of making self-care more inclusive, engaging, and fun. Our products are infused with single-origin turmeric, a potent super-herb recognized for its beautifying, healing, and mood-boosting properties.”
“Whether it’s with an eye mask, a lip mask, or a lip scrub, we’re all about keeping you naturally cute and effortlessly fresh. We think you’re dope just the way you are, but we’re here to give you that little bit of extra. Chill with us for 15-20 minutes, and we’ll put stars in your eyes and kisses on your lips.”
Considered the secret behind Hollywood’s most flawless faces, expert esthetician Shani Darden sets herself apart with her results-oriented approach to skin care. Her passion for simple, yet effective solutions has earned her clients’ trust and respect in a town where beauty, health, and wellness standards are high.