The Makeup Aisle: Drowning in a Sea of Ivory

According to the beauty industry, words that describe light skin are as follows: “Porcelain” “Ivory” “Linen” “Creme” “Cream” “Natural” “Neutral” “Nude” “Pebble” “Buff” “Tan” “Bare” “Fair” “Medium” “Fair Medium” “Medium Fair” “Sand” “Spiced Sand” “Medium Sand” “Sandy Medium” “Cool Beige” “ Warm Beige” “Desert Beige” “Pure Beige” “Ivory Beige” “Shell Beige” “Beige Beige” …

Words that describe dark skin: “Deep”

Let me backtrack.

A few days ago, I ran out of foundation. Now, by all accounts, I should’ve known this was coming given that I had been squeezing, squirting, and scooping the last drops out of the bottle for three weeks.

But I digress.

Because I have been more or less blessed by the skin gods, I have been able to get away with using a run-of-the-mill, drugstore foundation (Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse) since I was 14 years old. It goes on smooth, matches pretty well, and most importantly, only costs $9.99( #ballinonabudget).

I knew that if I didn’t buy new foundation that night, that I would be grumpy the next morning; plus, I was out of pistachio ice cream. So, I begrudgingly donned my flats, buttoned my pants, grabbed my keys, and was on my way to Walmart.

Upon my arrival, I headed straight for the make-up aisle; no dilly dallying for me. I knew that Shark Tank was coming on soon and I wanted to be sure I was on my couch, ice cream in tow by 8:00.

I finally reach the makeup aisle and to my dismay, they were out of my shade. “No worries,” I said to myself, “I’ll just choose another brand and be done with it.”

If only it were that easy.

I roamed up and down these aisles and found exactly 2 shades that matched me. Out of the more that 300 liquid foundations in stock, there were only 2 that would’ve been appropriate for anyone darker than J-Lo.

Both called “Deep”. Neither my shade.

“No big deal,” I said to myself “I’ll just go across the street to Target.”

If only it were that easy

Not only was target OUT of my shade, they didn’t even carry a shade in the line that was past “medium”. Frustrated, I took myself ( and my money) to CVS, my third and final store for the night. The familiar Maybelline bottle caught my eye and…

Beige. Again.

I live in Greensboro, NC, a town populated by a majority POC (people of color). Why then did shopping for make-up feel like drowning in a sea of ivory?

I was infuriated. On top of being hangry, ( a lethal combination of hunger-fueled anger) I was tired.

Tired of being treated like a second class citizen

Tired of the beauty industry excluding women like me.

Tired of being relegated to a single story.

Tired of the narrative that my skin is not beautiful.

Black women are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the beauty industry.

Why then am I reduced to one measly “ethnic” section in every other store?

It’s 2015 and it’s time that retailers realized that the sea of hues is much deeper than beige.

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