Beauty trends come and go, but nothing stands the test of time like flawless skin. Which is why foundation is so important. It's the canvas that sets the stage for any look and, if done right, can help you erase any and all blemishes with a single swipe of a brush. With choices ranging from natural to full-coverage, dewy to matte, the possibilities are endless. On a deeper level, foundation can even help boost your confidence, as anyone who has struggled with acne can tell you.
So why is it so hard, nearly impossible even, to find certain shades to match different skin tones? For years, most foundations have been targeted to a very small demographic (read: white). Even if a brand does offer multiple shades in its collection, the options many times don’t match and can appear ashy. With limited shades and a severe lack in the necessary variations of undertones, Latinas and African-American women often struggle to find a color for their complexion.
The lack of inclusivity in the beauty industry remains prevalent, with notable fashion and beauty leaders speaking out against it. Victoria’s Secret model Leomie Anderson recently addressed the issue when she slammed makeup artists at New York Fashion Week for the lack of variety in their makeup kits in a series of tweets. Anderson said that she felt like makeup artists just did not know how to work with her complexion or have the proper makeup to match her tone.
This double standard remains truer than ever for models. Reneicia Johnson, a New York City–based model who also walked Fashion Week, shared that she’s had to resort to bringing her own foundation to shows because makeup artists did not carry her shade. “Most artists I've worked with admit to not being as experienced with darker skin tones. I always travel with my complete makeup bag, better safe than sorry,” says Johnson.
Similarly, Johnson also finds that her friends in the modeling industry have encountered the same issue and choose not to wear makeup altogether.
“I have a few friends that opt out of wearing makeup completely. When you're doing shows you want to look your best and if you don't have the right products for your skin tone it can be a disaster. Makeup alters the look of your facial features.”
Despite the experiences described by Anderson and Johnson, there are some makeup artists like Sarah Warshowsky who believe that being prepared for all different shades of skin is an absolute must. “If you don’t have the right color foundation, you have to make it work somehow. I always have a broad range of foundation shades with me because you never know who you’re going to work with. I usually have my Bobbi Brown BBU Palette with me, which has a wide range of foundation shades. If not, I always have my Makeup Forever Flash Palette in which I can make a perfect foundation shade with only red, yellow, blue, and white!”
Not all hope is lost in finding the perfect foundation thanks to popular and budget-friendly brands like CoverGirl and L'Oréal.
“I'm a CoverGirl all day, they never disappoint. They have something for everybody, and I've used it for years. People spend excessive amounts of money buying all this makeup and honestly I've achieved all my looks with products that cost me no more than $10 a piece," says Johnson.
When it comes to matching yourself for the right foundation, if you’re a newbie Warshowsky recommends getting matched professionally at a makeup counter. “Everyone has different undertones, warm or cool, which is important to determine when finding a foundation shade. Test the foundation first on your face/neck (not hand) to make sure it’s a match. Also, make sure you get the right formulas for your skin. If you’re dry, go with a more luminous cream or a liquid foundation with high moisture. If you’re oily, go with a matte finish foundation and pressed powder to set,” says Warshowsky.
Celebrity makeup artist and creator of the Beauty Blender Rea Ann Silva found that the issue of limited foundation options boils down to a concept of supply and demand for makeup manufacturers. “Cosmetic companies want to make sure they see a return on investment," she told Huffington Post. "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 woman myself, I know firsthand that the Latina market is huge. Latina women love makeup. 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.”
While the beauty industry is making progress in its color choices for Latinas and other ethnicities, it still has to make major strides in balancing the playing field when it comes to shopping for makeup. There's really no excuse for such limited options in today’s world. Inclusivity should be the norm and not the exception at this point because everyone deserves a foundation that’s both the perfect shade and accessibly priced.