It is definitely something to celebrate. Covergirl is probably one of the most progressive makeup brands right now. In recent years, they signed James Charles as their first CoverBoy and Nura Afia their first CoverGirl in a hijab.
They seem to be doing everything right and I’ve wanted to support CoverGirl for the longest time. However, the fact that their products were tested on animals deterred me from ever purchasing an item from CoverGirl.
CoverGirl has always placed more emphasis on diversity compared to other drugstore brands. Especially focusing on representation in their advertising.
The Queen Collection by CoverGirl was developed with darker skin tones in mind. Often darker skin tones are ignored not simply from the spectrum but the nuances of creating products for darker skin tones are ignored.
Personally, I did not think that the Queen collection was necessary but the focus and attention given to the collection were necessary. Variations of shades were created, undertones were noticed and women of color were made visible by this line of products.
Stereotypes, molds, and expectations are all things I have always been expected to bow down to. If you have ever met me you would know that that is simply not how I function.
I have gravitated towards Jasmine all my life. Growing up with dark skin, long black hair and the ability to shake my hips all perhaps contributed to this need to be her. Jasmine is the only princess people expect me to be which is frustrating because I would like it to be my decision.
I’m okay with that, I mean the girl is a princess and has a tiger for a pet. I have no complains being compared to her, but I would like to have an option. The option to be whomever I wanted to be.
About a year ago, I was talking to a friend, just casual criticism of female characters in Princess movies. She looked at me and said, “You are totally Moana.” I was excited, for the first time I was not Jasmine. After a moment of joy, I realized that I was not going to be forced into roles, (albeit these are the really cool princesses and of course Mulan is on the cool list too).
I decided to choose my own (Halloween) destiny. Perhaps it is the convenience or my love for the darkness of the night, I have annually chosen to be a vampire. I do own a pair of killer fangs though.
It may be Halloween or real life, but no one is putting me in a box. I simply will not comply. Even in the case of being Jasmine, if I’m going to be her, I will have a cat for a pet and not have hair that reached down to my thighs. I will be an independent Jasmine that doesn’t need Alladin to see a whole new world.
I am constantly told to protect my skin. The importance of SPF is a mantra in the beauty world. It is probably the best method to prevent wrinkles in the future. It is the only way to prevent sunspots from appearing.
So I try and I fail.
I cannot possibly be the only person who struggles to find a sunscreen that does not make me look gray. It is so difficult to find a sunscreen in a cream formula that does not have a white tint. Yes, there are clear spray options that are formulated for the body. Many of those cause breakouts because it is not the correct formula.
On the other hand, I struggle to find foundation shades that match my skin tone so I tried to make the two negatives cancel each other out. And….
It worked. It was not perfect because in the ideal world I will be able to find BB creams for my shade.
The logic however applied. The darker foundation was lightened when combined with sunscreen. Once the product is absorbed into the skin the foundation overpowered the white cast that the SPF left behind and you are left with a dewy finish and protection against the sun.
Here’s to making things work and surviving.
The enemy in the camp. The Judas among the Desi population. Lakme Cosmetics, owned by Hindustan Unilever and an essential brand in every South Asian woman’s makeup collection.
Lakme recently collaborated with Kareena Kapoor Khan to create a collection. Which includes everything you could possibly need, lip liner, lipsticks, blush and of course foundations.
The catch is that there are only 6 foundation shades. No! I’m not kidding.
Based in India, one of the most diverse nations in the world. A country where you have people who appear to look Middle-Eastern and people who look Oriental. Of course, there are also the darker skinned south Indians and the line of foundations has 6 SHADES.
Is it ignorance or hatred?
Unlike some other countries like Korea and Japan where the beauty culture is dominant and unique, India cannot be considered a homogenous society. The early invasion of the Indian sub-continent (as it is known today) by the Persian and Mongolians and simply the nature of that region in the world contribute to the diversity in the land.
And yet, a line of foundations is launched with 6 shades that do not even begin cover the spectrum of skin tones seen in India. The shades are on the lighter end of things (Surprise!). Undertones are not accounted for.
The deadly combination of the mindset left behind by European Colonizers and the caste system in this part of the world kills the self-esteem of people every day.
Is it simply a hatred of the darker skin tones because in the modern history of the Indian subcontinent power had been in the hands of those with paler, lighter skin?
It is impossible to have a sense of otherness in this region of the world, but it is cultivated in the minds of the young. The movie industry plays a role, the society runs the game and the cosmetic companies fall into the trap.
Makeup is a shield. An armor that protects from my biggest enemy; me.
All my life there were a couple things I’ve wanted. A fabulous motorcycle, a boyfriend and a lighter skin tone. My parents got me one of those things, even fate can’t help me with the other, makeup, however, gave me the last and best thing of all.
A shield to hide behind. With makeup, I hid my dark skin. With makeup, I saw a pretty girl in the mirror with makeup. With makeup, I finally believed that I’ll be noticed.
It is no secret that in the South Asian community lighter skin is revered. I grew up in this community where every time I received a compliment it had a suffix, “… for a dark-skinned girl.”
Nothing else about me mattered because I was dark. Nothing else was the true reality because the biggest obstacle was supposed to be my skin tone. It was difficult to wake up every day knowing that I’ll never the prettiest one, I’ll never be desired, and I’ll never be the one (for anyone).
It took me coming to whole other continent to appreciate my skin tone. It took coming to another end of the planet for me to appreciate the reflection I saw in the mirror. I no longer pretend to be someone else. I no longer use makeup that hides my true color.
I may not be the most beautiful woman, but I am me. I am unapologetically me. Summers are for a tan and sunsets are for a glow. More or less melanin makes no difference to me.
I’m not here to explain the science behind creating makeup. Although that fascinates me I’m here to bring emotion to that procedure. Especially those that involve animals.
I acknowledge that once in the ages before the wide and extensive use of computer programs and the knowledge database that we now possess animal testing may have the only option. Today, in a world where so much is changing it surprises me that ethics will still be abandoned for profit.
European countries, India and Israel have namely banned animal testing. China, on the other hand, demands animal testing and such is the dichotomy of this matter. Why can’t all human agree that pain should be abandoned when not necessary? That rubbing chemical on shaved bunnies is unethical and wrong.
Especially since it has been proven that animal testing is simply not as effective to prove compatibility with human skin. Hurting and torturing furry little creatures in the name of aesthetics is not particularly beautiful, is it now?
To me beauty isn’t selfish nor is it painful. Beauty is art and I cannot condone hurting a life in the name of beauty. We have all inevitably benefited from animal testing but it is possible to reduce the pain and suffering in the world. Starting with makeup and skin care we can put an end to animal testing.
I will explain my transition and share tips on how to proceed with transitioning in another post. For now, I’m leaving you with sources for you to explore your options in the world of Cruelty-Free Beauty.
If your life is anything like mine I bet, you spend hours scouring the makeup aisles in the drugstore for the perfect makeup and it is often a failed mission. I absolutely hate leaving a store feeling dejected and left out. Although things have gotten better I’m not yet content with the situation.
With every new foundation or concealer launch, I hear about the 40 different shades being created. A promotional factor as if these companies are doing the consumers a favor.
I’m sorry, are you paying us to use your makeup products?
Companies like L’oreal, Maybelline and Covergirl now brag about the shades they have created and how it is “inclusive” as if people with certain (ahem darker) skin tones are not their first-choice customers. As a consumer and an avid fan of the beauty industry I am aware that people with really pale skin also face this issue. I wonder why it is so because makeup is not only a consumer product, it is so much more than that. It enriches the lives of the users. It is both therapeutic and an artistic outlet for many.
I do not like being ignored, I do not like watching people be ignored.
It was revolutionary when Fenty Beauty launched their brand with 40 shades. It felt like a miracle when Colorpop expanded their concealer line. We want to simply find a foundation that matches our skin. The struggle is real. More often than not we sit around waiting for the next launch, giving these brands another chance. Maybe it is time to rally up and demand our needs as consumers. Support beauty bloggers that stand by their values, appreciate those that fight the fight.
Most of us sat around and watched as Tarte ignored half the spectrum with their Shape Tape Foundation. Many even continued to support the brand in other ways but honestly if we don’t express our needs we cannot expect the equal treatment that we deserve. In no way am I suggesting that we go around burning their products in protest (hint: Nike and Kaepernick). Remember that you have a voice and make it matter. Put your money where it belongs, with the brands that care.