It’s nothing new for us women of colour. You pop along to your local high street beauty store to stock up on make-up, but it’s slim pickings for you, and anyone else whose skin tone is darker than a light caramel.

Singer turned presenter Jamelia highlighted this issue in her regular slot on ITV’s This Morning day time show broadcast on Tuesday 15 November.

The presenter, who grew up in a small town in Birmingham often struggled to find makeup for her skin tone back then, twenty years later, it turns out that not much has changed.

As part of the report, Jamelia questioned a couple of young black women who shared their experiences of being forced to buy more expensive brands like MAC who would stock their shades, but at a much higher cost than it would have been at their local high street.

This problem is not restricted to us mere mortals. High profile celebrities and models such as Naomi Campbell and Leomie Anderson have voiced their frustration at industry makeup artists who are apparently often unprepared to work with black or darker skin tones.

Award winning make-up artist Joy Adenuga also shared her views. She commented:

“As a make-up artist, it can get very expensive to carry every single shade in your make-up kit. When I finished from make-up school, I went to high end brands like Nars, Estee Lauder, Chanel etc and the prices were expensive, so I took myself down to the high street brands like Boots and Superdrug thinking – budget friendly, until I saw the limited shades, some brands only stocked six shades.”

Pic – Joy Adenuga

She appealed to the industry to cater to more people. She said:

“Do the research. The make-up is not being given out for free, they will be bought so you will make your money, it’s not charity.”

Rounding off the report, Jamelia visited branches of Boots and Super Drug. Superdrug did in fact stock her shade, but nothing for people with skin tones darker than hers, while Boots didn’t have a specific black range and even the darkest shade that they had did not match her skin tone.

Jamelia said:

“This is a common theme among black women that we must travel to the city centres to find make-up that matches our skin tones and we probably end up paying double.”

Boots offered a statement:

“Whilst our smaller stores may offer a slighted reduced range, all products are available on so that they can be accessed from across the UK.”

Similarly, Superdrug said they offered the option of Click and Collect for all their range.

When asked why larger stores did not cater for black and ethnic skin tones the way they do Caucasian skin tones. A Superdrug rep suggested that the problem lay with the make-up brands themselves. She said:

“It’s taken a lot of persuasion and negotiation to think about things very differently. It’s not always about making sure that every shade offered is a best seller, but more about being credible and offering something for every woman out there.”

img_1843So in conclusion, black skin tones are being catered for, just not on your local high street. At Melan Magazine we take the view that more needs to be done to address the gap. But perhaps we shouldn’t necessarily hang about waiting for the powers that be to address our needs, why don’t we fill the gap ourselves? They say the best business ideas are the ones that fill a niche, well this is a pretty big opportunity. Over the last few months we have come across a number of black owned businesses doing just that.

Here are four brands you should check out…
– Premae Skincare
– MoMineral Makeup UK
– Kitoko Makeup
– Marena Beaute


We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below…



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