I’ve Got the Power!

by: Joi Divine


According to a report by Nielsen, African Americans spend a trillion dollars each year from shopping trips. African American women also spend a large amount of money each year at health and beauty supply stores, making them “more relevant than ever”, as the title of the summary of the report says. That report was published in 2013, so you can imagine that the buying power has increased even more. In fact, the buying power is projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017. African Americans spend 9 times more money on beauty products than consumers of other races, yet when a lot of the female African Americans seek to purchase makeup, they cannot find a foundation to match their skin tones. I just want to know why this is still an issue in 2016. Brands clearly have a unique opportunity to literally cash in on the buying power of African Americans, yet some still don’t.

As a makeup enthusiast and self-proclaimed addict, it hurts my feelings that I still can’t purchase from a lot of mainstream brands because the darkest shades they offer will have me looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost. In my experience, I can only buy lipsticks or blush (if I’m lucky) from a lot of mid-to-high-end brands. Of course, the vast majority of drugstore brands understand the opportunity they have, but others…I’m looking at YOU. Almay, Rimmel and Physician’s Formula seem to completely ignore people darker than a paper bag. It took Neutrogena several years to finally offer darker shades, and even then I’m the darkest shade they are willing to produce (I’m a MAC NC50 for reference). I know I’m complaining a quite a bit, but I can’t help myself when things don’t make sense.
There are a few solutions to this issue. Some choose to only purchase from Black-owned brands, and I definitely practice that option on a regular basis. I personally believe that it isn’t too much to ask if I want a brand to cater to myself and other African American women. I personally believe that boycotting, while a solution, is less effective (unless the population voices to the brands that there is a boycott for their products) because if they don’t know that there’s an issue, boycotting them altogether is going to perpetuate their ignorance.

Social media has given consumers the power to speak directly with brands and their ambassadors about what they would like to see. Anastasia Beverly Hills and ColourPop Cosmetics are among the first brands to swatch colors on light, medium, and deep skin tones. They also feature makeup artists of different races and skin tones so everyone can feel valued. Because of fed up consumers, Too Faced rolled out six more shades in their Born This Way Foundation. I believe when we speak truth to power, good things can happen and everyone can be satisfied. These brands may or may not be intentionally discriminating against darker skin tones, but they won’t know until people tell them what they want.

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