Women Of Colour and our trials and tribulations in the cosmetics market – an introduction

By  |  0 Comments

Hmm. Where to start. It seems women of colour (WOC) especially those with Afro Caribbean hues have bemoaned the lack of suitable cosmetics and beauty products on the market for aeons. Certainly I’ve felt that way since I slicked on my first ‘low on colour’ lipstick in secondary school many moons ago. And as with many of my contemporaries, I became convinced after a trip to buy foundation resulted in frustration from finding shades too light, that left me looking ashy. Fast forward and many years later WOC are still shaking their heads in dismay.

WOC collectively have difficulty locating cosmetics that show up on, or that complement their many skin tones. When we do find something, often the range is limited, or the price prohibitive, or, products aren’t available in mainstream outlets.

Also our frequently oily skins need stronger colours that stay on. The sheers and translucents (popular ‘nudes’ for instance) worn by our fairer-skinned sisters just don’t show on dark skins. If they do, we can find ourselves reapplying frequently to achieve satisfactory noticeable effects.

In the US, WOC apparently spend three times more on beauty products than their fairer sisters, and there their choices appear wider.

Here according to a 2009 Mintel survey, WOC contribute £70m to the UK cosmetics and beauty/ haircare market. This equates to 2% of the total market, which is not representative of the WOC ethnic percentage in the population.

Economically it makes sense to expand cosmetics to include more products suitable for WOC. For example our mixed skin tone means one woman can need two or three different shades of foundation to even this out. With these ‘extra’ requirements you’d think manufacturers would jump at the chance of additional business. But they don’t seem to.

So why is it our lighter-skinned sisters have a seemingly endless wardrobe of cosmetics from many manufacturers? UK shortfall for WOC may be down to doubt by mainstream companies that there is a healthy market in ethnic cosmetics. Lethargic uptake by advertising companies could be another factor. After all magazines and billboards often fail to showcase darker-skinned beauties. All these ‘images’ add up on a subconscious level that keeps WOC beauty requirements in the background.

WOC often need different cosmetics from foundation, lipsticks, eye makeup, and skincare to haircare. I’m not being ‘seperatist;’ here, just stating it as is. And here at Simply Woman we pride ourselves in providing truthful unbiased copy that informs today’s woman. So, over the coming months we’ll be delighted to bring you more on this perennial topic in our new WOC section.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply