If you haven’t been keeping up with beauty news for a while, it’s become common knowledge that Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty knocked it out of the park. The highlighters are killer, the brushes are serviceable and most importantly, the foundation range is well and truly diverse. Rumour has it that a lot of much-beloved beauty brands are now working in overdrive trying to dramatically increase their own shade ranges, but just for the record, makeup aficionados of colour always take special notice of those brands that didn’t care to cater to a diverse audience until they realized that it could be highly profitable. No hard feelings, of course, but we know who had our back first, and it’s those brands that we’re going to support first, just because they’ve listened to us longer. Here are our favourite makeup brands that have been catering to all (or most) shades of the spectrum for a while now.
Many of the brands that used to take care of POC skin in the ’90s have fizzled out, but not so with Bobbi Brown, thanks in a big way to its range of lipsticks and blushes, which always presents enough variety to adapt well to either pale or deep skin. Another key reason Bobbi Brown holds a special place in the heart of a lot of brown girls and boys is the 30-shade-strong Skin Foundation Stick ($55), which has a nourishing and non-drying formula that is somehow also waterproof, sweat-proof and supposedly even humidity-proof.
Estée Lauder has been tardy to the party with including deeper skin tones in its foundation range in the past, and here and there the products do have issues with ashiness, but the Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup ($48) has redeemed the brand of late. With 28 shades and an oil-free finish that doesn’t oxidize, this product has many visible minorities feeling hopeful that an industry titan will start catering to more of our needs much sooner than expected.
In terms of drugstore brands, we have to give it up for Maybelline, because recently, the brand has been incredibly sensitive in its product launches. The Fit Me! foundation ($11, which come in both dewy and matte versions) features 16 shades, some of which actually seem to break that thin amorphous line between cappuccino and dark mocha. I’ll say this much: while Maybelline might boast fewer shades in total as compared to some other brands on the list, it still includes a lot more options for deeper skin tones as compared to many of them.
Say what you will about NARS’ controversial decision to start selling in China, but the brand has always had its finger on the pulse of shade representation. Many brands boast many foundation shades and then skimp on the concealers, but NARS seems to know that its Radiant Creamy Concealer ($37) is one of the reasons why the brand even has a cult following. When NARS rebooted its concealer collection earlier this year and rolled out the Soft Matte Complete Concealer ($37, above) it stuck to its 16-strong shade range, finally giving the gift of good concealer to our sisters with intensely oily skin. Of late, the brand’s liquid blushes and matte lipsticks have also been fun to play with, making this a brand diverse both in shade representation and in its use of the same product in different, versatile formats.
Also in the drugstore category is Wet N Wild’s Photo Focus Foundation ($6), which boasts 23 shades but is also the only vegan product on this list. There could be plenty more deeper colours in this range and that’s a fact, but this foundation assuredly has a place on this list for being both the cheapest and the most animal-friendly of the bunch.
If you’re looking for high-quality, professional-level coverage, few do it better than Danessa Myricks, the makeup artist and entrepreneur who launched her own line to provide a natural finish product aimed at one thing only: silky, like-buttah coverage that nourishes without creasing. All 26 shades of her Vision Cover Cream (USD 28) need to be bought online as they haven’t found their way into Canada yet, but the reviews online are great and the buzz only seems to be growing. Chances are we’ll be seeing more from Ms Myricks at a Sephora near us pretty soon!
Let’s close with a superstar: Black Opal is the OG of ethnic drugstore brands when it comes to anything from blotting powder to full coverage foundation. Many brands that cater to deep skin tones have problems with ashiness — i.e. an imbalance in the colour mixing which translates to chalkiness on the skin — but Black Opal is one that tends to skew warm in its colour mixes, leading to the least probability of ashiness. The brand’s foundations tend to sit heavy on the skin, so if you’re not a fan of that, try one of their pressed powders instead.