Posted on 26 September, 2014
A few years ago, as a beauty editor, I attended a major cosmetics brand's launch of new face powders. Sitting at the presentation, I was shocked to hear the rep-resentative explain that the line was for women of all skin tones, yet I could see it came in only three shades: fair, light/medium, and medium. As she spoke, she avoided looking at me and my darker-than-medium skin. Finally, a colleague jumped in and asked what darker women were supposed to use. She didn't have an answer. It was awkward. I felt confused and angry, just like I did in high school when I watched my lighter-skinned friends buy makeup, while I was left empty-handed.
The presentation happened not long ago, in 2011, but it could easily have been in the 1970s, when women with medium or dark brown skin had even fewer options. My friend's mother, Patricia Goodson, a 60-year-old former model, remembers what it was like: "When I was in my 20s, there wasn't foundation for me to buy. I could shop for mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick, but that was it." Over the years, shade ranges have increased, but as recently as 2012, the options have been limited.
Now things are changing. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that people of color will make up half of the population by 2050. And the number of Americans of mixed race grew 32 percent between 2000 and 2010. That makes for a multitude of new skin tones, and cosmetic makers are going to have to expand their offerings to keep up with women's needs.
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