Women of colour can attest to this: They used to search for long before getting a foundation that compliments their skin tones or would sometimes end up using what was readily available in the market, but which might not have been intended for their skin colour.
Most beauty products were either too dark or too light. When Somali supermodel Iman Mohamed started a cosmetics line for foundations for darker women, she wanted to widen the products to cater for different tones. With more shades, black women could get what fits them.
Beauty companies followed in the footsteps of the supermodel who was married to late iconic musician David Bowie.
Now Lancôme, Black Opal, Clinique and Fashion Fair have widened their spectrum of foundations and every African woman is likely to get a perfect shade.
As cosmetic brands look beyond the US and Europe for market share, expanding their shades and markets makes sense.
Last week, BlackUp Paris, a luxury make-up brand for ethnic skin tones launched a retail shop in Nairobi targeting the sophisticated woman.
“The woman of colour has for a while been suffering in silence in terms of make-up options in the market. Especially those of us who are not living in First World countries and getting access to these cosmetics specially made for us was not easy,” said Lintons Beauty World director Joyce Gikunda, during the launch of BlackUp products in Kenya.
The shop’s stock will include eyebrows, false lashes, concealers to contouring sticks.
“The black woman’s skin is very special, because it has different pigmentation. One may be very dark and then we have those who are not so dark so we found it necessary to come up with a cosmetic solution to these different black skin tones,” said BlackUp director Lionell Durand.
He said BlackUp aims to magnify the beauty of darker complexions.
Founded in 1999 in Paris, BlackUp is currently available in nearly 500 retail locations across 57 countries in Europe and Africa.
“BlackUp has over 300 products. Sixty per cent of the products are foundations, compact powders, concealers, primers, lip colours and make-up brushes,’’ said Lionell.
Kenya’s cosmetics industry is growing fast, attracting global brands such as Lancôme, Estée Lauder and Mon Guerlain.
Some of the high-end international brands that have set up shop in city malls or signed franchise deals with established beauty outlets are MAC, Yves Saint Laurent, Clarins, Estée Lauder, Clinique, Black Up, Essie Nail cosmetics, Black Opal and Nimue, among others.