WHILE the beauty industry has come on leaps and bounds when it comes to inclusivity, there is still more work to be done.
Forty per cent of black female shoppers struggle to find appropriate make-up shades, according to the 2022 Black Pound Report.
While brands such as Fenty have paved the way for a more diverse array of foundation tones, many of the cheaper brands have some catching up to do.
Here, with the help of model Didi Danso, 55, main image, and Fabulous Beauty Editor Tara Ledden, Abby McHale looks at seven brands across the industry to see which ones are getting it right . . . and which need to go back to the drawing board.
LAUNCHED in 2017, Fenty by Rihanna is renowned for its inclusivity across different skin tones.
Starting out with 40 shades, the brand has since upped that number to 50, making it one of the biggest ranges on the market.
Originally only stocked in higher-end department stores, it has also been in Boots since 2019.
But, while it ticks a lot of boxes, this doesn’t come cheap, with a 32ml bottle costing £30.
Didi says: “This is by far my favourite foundation.
“Not only do they have so many shades to choose from, the formula also leaves my skin feeling glowy and it blends so well.”
THE cheapest of our buys, this foundation from Rimmel London claims to match 99 per cent of skin tones with its smart tone technology.
While it is stocked by a lot of major retailers, it also has a “try it on” filter on its website, though it is always advisable to try it in real life.
With 25 shades, only around eight are for darker skin, with most of the shades still leaning towards the lighter end of the range.
Didi says: “For £8.99 this really isn’t a bad foundation for something on the high street.
“It’s not a bad match, but there is definitely better.
“And it seems they haven’t catered for the fact that while I may look like I have the same skin colour as someone else, our undertones may be completely different and so the same foundation can work for one but not the other.”
CLINIQUE has a wide selection of shades – 42 to be exact – and ten of those are positioned in what it refers to as its “deep” section.
There is a key, with different letters corresponding to different undertones, which should make it easy for you to decipher your shade.
However there isn’t much help on the website as to what these letters actually mean.
Clinique is widely available on the high street, sold in stores such as Boots and John Lewis.
Tara says: “Going into a store to get colour matched is always advised, especially when buying a pricier foundation, as it’s a big risk spending the money on the wrong shade.”
Didi says: “I had high hopes for this foundation, however the shades made me look ashy.
“And then, strangely, after it had been on my face for a while, I started to look slightly green.”
COMING in at the pricier end, £37.50 for 30ml, Estee Lauder is definitely an investment foundation.
However, with 27 shades in the range and ten of them being “deep” for darker skin, the brand also takes into consideration undertones.
With three different letters corresponding to different undertones, consumers are able to find what suits them best: C for cool, N for neutral and W for warm. The brand’s website explains what each of these mean for your skin.
Didi says: “I love that their shade ranges refer to the undertones. For example they have shades 8C1 and 8N1, with the latter being for more even-toned skin, making it easier to find the right shade for you.”
WITH only 12 shades in this range, there aren’t many options to choose from.
Urban Decay says that its shades are “flexible” and “super-forgiving”, designed to suit your skin tone by allowing your “real skin to show through the sheer glow finish”, whatever your skin colour.
Tara says: “When it comes to sheer foundations, brands claim that they can fit multiple skin tones into a smaller amount of shades, but they don’t take into account different undertones.”
Didi says: “Whilst this worked on my skin it may not work on everyone’s.
“For example, I have red undertones in my skin, whereas someone with the same colour could have yellow, which is something not catered for in smaller shade ranges.”
AT only £10, this foundation from NYX is one of the cheapest and also offers the biggest range of shades.
Featuring 45 different tones, it is one of the few high street brands that caters to a wide selection of skin tones.
Available to buy in Boots and Superdrug as well as online, this foundation ticks all the boxes as accessibility is another important factor when shopping for darker shades.
While the full range of tones may be available online, not as many shades can typically be found in stores.
Didi says: “This is great, especially for the price. Because there were so many shades on offer I was able to find one that matched me easily. It’s given me a healthy glow I love.”
WITH only six shades in the range, this Maybelline foundation was the least inclusive brand that we looked at.
There are three lighter shades and three darker.
A matte foundation that is meant to blur and conceal, it has a thick consistency and is almost paste-like.
Didi says: “This made my skin look really ashy. If I was to wear this out I would have to mix it with another shade of foundation to get my colour, something that would then cost more money.
“Also, on the box containing the foundation the model looked lighter after applying it – something I don’t think should be promoted.”
‘More investment needed’
MORE than one in three black women visit specialist shops to get the health and beauty products they need.
Skincare expert Dija Ayodele, founder of the Black Skin Directory and author of Black Skin, The Definitive Skincare Guide, says: “There’s more investment needed in understanding the different undertones of skin of colour.
“It’s not as simple as adding brown or black colour to foundations – the golden, yellow or red undertones of black skin also need to be matched. Sometimes it’s the service and experience that can be lacking.
“Counter staff aren’t experienced in doing make-up on black/darker skin, they sometimes have no cultural understanding – obviously we’re all different and have different needs.”
Ateh Jewel, beauty journalist and a presenter on the ITV daytime show This Morning, adds: “The market is so much better than it used to be when I started out in the industry, but a lot of brands still don’t understand the undertones.
“Things are a bit ashy or they look a bit grey or chalky on the skin. And sadly I don’t know anyone with darker skin who still doesn’t mix more than one foundation to get their shade.”