Cosmetics market still lacks a wide range of products for black skin

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Note from BW of Brazil: This article once again shows the extreme invisibility and lack of recognition of Brazil’s black community. Invisibility in the media is one thing, racial identity is another thing, but regardless of people not seeing themselves in the media or not knowing how to identify themselves in terms of race, these people will spend money on their appearance. According to the Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Higiene Pessoal, Perfumaria e Cosméticos (Abihpec or Brazilian Association of Toiletries, Perfumes and Cosmetics), Brazil has the third largest market for beauty products in the world, trailing only the United States and Japan. This year, Brazilians are projected to spend $ 36.24 billion on taking care of their appearance and well-being, according to a research by Pyxis Consumo, a company that estimates market size. Brazil’s C economic class will be responsible for 42.6% of expenditures with the southeastern concentrating 50% of consumption in the country. With the explosion of Afro-Brazilians into Brazil’s middle class in the past decade, not only is this lack of variety an ignorant example of how racial diversity is ignored while the “dictatorship of whiteness” reigns supreme, it is also not a wise decision in business terms. 

Cosmetics market is still missing with black skin

In a survey of major brands, rare were the ones that had exclusive items for these consumers

by Ciça Vallerio

Despite the predominance of negra and morena (black and brown) skin in the country, it is difficult to find an ideal shade among the gamut of products sold to women with white skin

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The variety of black skin is enormous, but the beauty market doesn’t offer products in the same proportion. In a survey of major brands, rare were the ones that had exclusive items for these consumers. The base, for example, is essential in the makeup, but it is difficult to find an ideal shade among the gamut sold to women with white skin, says Mirian Costa, makeup artist for the Dailus cosmetics brand. “We did some research and realized this need,” says the professional. “To fill this gap, the company has created a wide range for these women.”

When developing makeup for black skin, Dailus outlined an overview of the consumption of feminine beauty by region. Mirian says that in the south of the country, sales focus on pink toned makeup because of the predominance of European ancestry in this region where most women have very fair skin. In the cities of Rio, Salvador (northeastern state of Bahia) and Vitória (southeastern state of Espírito Santo), the best-selling products are targeted to the many shades ranging from brown to black. In São Paulo, however, the mixture is so great that it is impossible to define a dominant profile.

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Despite the predominance of morena and negra skin in the country, Julia Petit complains about the stance of domestic enterprises. “It’s as if it was a Nordic country here,” shouts the make-up expert, author of the blog Petiscos and host of the program Base Aliada (GNT netowrk) – both with beauty and fashion content.

Her indignation is so great that she does not tire of asking the same question when meets someone in a branch of the cosmetic business: “Do you have a line for black skin?” But the response that she hears the most is: “There is no market for that niche.” Julia asks: “Could it be that there is no market because there is no product?” For her, the Brazilian market is very backward in this regard.

According to the producer, while outside of the country there is a plethora of options, here the offer is still second class. “I have many black friends, besides my readers, who complain about the difficulty of finding primarily adequate base – that, along with the concealer is the most important product of a makeup,” says Julia. “The rest, like eye shadow and lipstick, is easier to solve.”

It is also difficult to find professionals who can master makeup for black skin. The actress Fernanda Lisboa, 22, says that she has already been the victim of frequent unskilled hands. Today, when she needs to do some photo work, the actress prefers to call her makeup artist, Pedro Villar. When necessary, she herself makes herself in order not to run the risk of coming out with a white face because of a poorly chosen underlying tone.

Actress Fernanda Lisboa
Actress Fernanda Lisboa

“If they err on the base, the entire makeup application can’t be salvaged,” warns Fernanda Bahia, who currently lives in São Paulo and is preparing to debut in November, the play To ensure a nice makeup application, she follows the basic rule which applies to all women, regardless of skin tone: if the eye is colored, the mouth should be discrete. If the mouth is strong, the eye is “nothing” – just mascara. This avoids the “Carnival” makeup look.

For the makeup artist Pedro Villar, a close friends of Fernanda and other celebrities, the most common problem is leaving black skin grayish because of an inadequate base. “The base has to be translucent to be seamless,” explains the expert. “And the concealer only a shade lighter to give luminosity around the eyes.”

The foundation and concealer, warns Pedro, should be applied to the skin in small quantities. “Don’t pack it on. Thus, the result will be more natural,” he explains. “A mistake I often see a lot on the street is a black woman wearing white or silver eyeliner,” says makeup artist. “Besides being ugly, it’s very tacky.”

Actress Adriana Alves, 34, knows very well what to do to prevent slip ups. “I began to understand makeup at age 17, after having often coming out with a pale face by mistake,” she says. “It was a common for a makeup artists to say that black skin didn’t need many acquisitions to look very good. But I knew deep down it was a justification for not having the appropriate products.”

Actress Adriana Alves
Actress Adriana Alves

At that time, Adriana discovered a Brazilian brand called Muene (1) – still for sale in a shop at the Galeria Presidente, in downtown São Paulo – that saved her. She always carries the products in her pocket and presented them to makeup artists. Today, her favorite beauty brand is the imported Make Up For Ever. She uses base number 180. For blush, she counts on reddish colors to mix together to find the best tones for her skin tone. And she loves to focus attention on her eyes, so shadows are her passion. Her favorite colors are gold, earth, brown and black, especially by MAC.

Muene Cosmetics specifically for blacks skin
Muene Cosmetics specifically for blacks skin

Tips by makeup artist Marcos Costa, a consultant at Natura, are the same for every woman: test  the base and the concealer on the face before buying it is the best option. Above all to adequately even out skin that has marks near the hairline and around the lips, a common problem among black women.

Regarding colors, Marcos Costa explains that black women with darker skin tones mix well with eggplant, burgundy, red and brink pink. As for the lighter skin, he recommends lighter pink, bronze and blue. The shade of blush is another big question. “I love blush pink for black women because it creates a nice contrast with the skin,” he says. “I also like the mix of bronze with pink, which is a wildcard and comes out well with black women of various skin tones. A black woman with darker skin should also experiment with a redder wine. It’s barbaric!”

About lipsticks, the makeup artist explains that black women usually avoid vibrant colors because of the belief that they emphasize fuller lips. But Costa, to the contrary, counts on red for these women. Also entering in this list are pink, wine, gold, and, of course, variations of brown that, for many morenas, change the color of the mouth. The products he recommends are the Aquarela da Natura line, with emphasis on base number 24, and imported brands Bobbi Brown and Make Up For Ever.

Glamor tips from Marcos Costa

Despite dark skins being naturally more resistant, they suffer from blemishes, dark circles and excess oil, explains Costa. The challenge, therefore, is finding the ideal base, according to personal characteristics. If the tone is lighter than the skin, the tendency is for the face to turn gray.

With the skin ready, it’s time for eyes. Use black shadow across the upper eyelid platform, from the root of the lashes to the crease of the eye, and blend it in. Then, be meticulous with the black mascara that enhances the lashes.

The wine blush turns into a beautiful pinkish shade on black skin tones. On the mouth, don’t be afraid of passion red to make the lips look sensuous. Take advantage of color and leave the little brown in the drawer.

Do you want more discreet makeup? For the lighter skin tones, Costa suggests shades of pink, orange, gold and brown. Darker skin shades should use wine, dark pink, black, bronze and eggplant.

Source: Exame, Natalie Makeup, O Fluminense


1. Muene Cosmetics, is a Brazilian cosmetic line created specifically for the hair and skin needs of women of African descent. The Muene Cosmetics has been on the market for more than 20 years and in the beginning advertised its products with actress Zezé Motta. Another strategy of the company directed by Maria do Carmo Valério Nicolau was to honor other famous black women, creating a line of lipsticks named after popular personalities such as singer/politician Leci Brandão, singer Alcione, activist/actress Tereza Santos, actress Ruth de Souza and singer /actress Eliana Pitman besides Zezé herself.

Muene Cosmetics and its founder, Maria do Carmo Valério Nicolau (right)
Muene Cosmetics and its founder, Maria do Carmo Valério Nicolau (right)

“Muene came about because of from my own need. I went through a lot of problems because of not having the proper products for my skin type,” says Maria do Carmo, who celebrates the company’s exports to countries such as Angola, Portugal, Senegal and the Ivory Coast. Maria do Carmo celebrated her 80th birthday in 2012.

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About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

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