09/23/2011 01:20 pm ET | Updated Nov 23, 2011

Creating Foundation Shades For All Women


"My search for the 'perfect foundation' became a mission that was to prove as elusive as the search for the Holy Grail!" - Rebecca Morrice Williams, Founder of BECCA

When a woman's foundation shade is not included in a company's line is it really discrimination? Or, as with everything else in business, does it just boil down to supply and demand, and straight up dollars and cents? I actually had one comment from last week's story on the same issue from a Caucasian women that simply felt the need to say "'not my issue." That's nice, but what about when it becomes your issue? People of color are actually the majority in the world, not the minority, so you may be showing up in the next 10 years at a cosmetic counter where there is nothing for you.

Issues, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder. One very frustrated makeup artist named Monifa Coffee started a movement called Makeup Artists Against Color Discrimination. She realized that there was a void in makeup lines that cater to only a few ethnicities. The sad part was, at the time, she was working for the very line that she couldn't wear herself. She began to search for 'ethnic friendly' lines that understood the needs, wants and concerns of women of color. She currently helps women find products that truly represent them. I caught up with several makeup artists, creators, and owners of top cosmetic lines and here is what they had to say about the beauty industry and foundation shades for all:

Rea Ann Silva, Celebrity Makeup Artist and Creator of Beauty Blender-

One time I was brought in as an expert to help cosmetic companies create foundation shades for women of color (Asian, Latina and African American) The company ended up using only 2/3 of the shades I picked. Cosmetic companies want to make sure they see a return on investment. Some companies actually feel that some women of color don't have the credit to purchase their products -- so why manufacture them? Being a Latina women myself, I know firsthand that the Latina market is huge. Latina women love make-up. Sometimes, the brighter the better. They also become very frustrated when companies eliminate color in order to follow trends. We are loyal, so cosmetic companies should be also.

Eric Sakas, Co-Founder of Kevyn Aucoin and Vapour Organic Beauty- Sakas helped Kevyn Aucoin develop his line and stayed as president of the brand after Aucoin's death, Eric shared with me that Aucoin "wanted inclusiveness in his line, not exclusivity." He would not back down on this issue when it came to creating foundations for his makeup line. Eric also helped create the shades for Vapour Organic Beauty using the same approach: shades for all.

William Marshall, Celebrity Makeup Artist- Having been a makeup artist for over 25 years I grew up with lines like Fashion Fair and Flori Roberts which were created specifically for African-American women. Marshall's observation over the years is that the situation has gotten better, but has never been great. Companies sometimes feel that women of color are second-class citizens when it comes to beauty, and they focus on what they think is a 'core audience'.

Rebecca Morrice Williams, Makeup Artist and Creator of BECCA Cosmetics-
I had the chance to connect with Williams for this story and the main question I had for her was this: Since the launch of your line, have you ever experienced a retailer that didn't want to carry the full range of the shades BECCA offers? What do you do in a situation such as this?


Absolutely; while BECCA offers the full gambit of shades, more than most brands on the market, not every market has a necessity for the full range. Our goal is to cater to the end customers needs through our retailers, so for those who do not want to carry all of the shades that BECCA has to offer, we offer what we call the "BECCA Boutique" collection, which is a smaller, cherry-picked assortment of shades that suit a more focused demographic, shade-wise.

I believe that makeup should first do no harm, so I educate women about toxic ingredients. But now I'm forced with the dilemma of explaining to women of color that there are very few companies that have anything for them, especially if they want to go organic. NVEY ECO and Vapour Organic Beauty both have great shades, and they are both very interested in their brands being inclusive. They both also do all of their own manufacturing, so they can add shades as needed.

Beauty needs to be represented on a deeper level, since it was created on one. We were all created in divine beauty, and should be celebrated, represented, and respected as such. Next week I will feature product recommendations from top experts that address the needs of women of all colors, using before and after pictures.Until then please celebrate your own unique beauty.