Made In My Shade: Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup

Yes, I found a color that matches my skin tone, but before we get to that, I need a moment to geek out about the texture of this product. It is fantastic.

Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup ($62), a foundation and skin perfector with SPF 15 and a mix of oils and pigments, is amazing because it completely disappears into the skin. Seriously, it’s like it becomes one with your face—you can’t feel it or see it once you blend it in.

The formula doesn’t contain any water, but it’s incredibly thin. In fact, it’s so lightweight that the bottle is topped off with a dropper instead of a regular cap or a pump. It seems strange at first, but the texture is so liquid-y that it makes sense.

The other ingredient that’s missing from Maestro Makeup is powder. And yet it gives a flawless matte finish. Hmmm…it’s all very mysterious and magical. Also, it took the company eight years to make it, so that might have something to do with how good it is.

OK, now let’s talk color. There are only three shades that are categorized as “dark,” but one of them, #11.5, works really well for me. Most women with a complexion similar to Naomi Campbell’s could wear it. But, I suspect that when my face gets lighter as we get deeper into winter, the makeup might start to look a teensy, tiny bit too red on me. But for now, I’m loving it.

I also tested the next lightest shade, #10, and I think it’s a good option for those with a Kerry Washington-colored complexion. I didn’t try out the deepest hue, #12, but I’m guessing it would be gorgeous on skin tones like Viola Davis’s. I wish the dark range were a little bigger so that more brown-skinned women could experience the makeup–it’s such a beautiful product. I like it even better than Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($59), which I mentioned as one of my favorites in a story I wrote for Glamour last year.

Have you tried Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup yet? Thoughts? 

P.S. For more Made In My Shade posts, click here.

Q&A: Supermodel Iman On How The Beauty Business Gets It Wrong

When legendary model Iman launched her eponymous cosmetics line in 1994, she never dreamed that eighteen years later, dark-skinned women would still be struggling to find makeup shades to match their skin tones (hello, where are all of the brown BB Creams?). But that’s just one of the things that’s bugging her about the state of the beauty industry today.

Why did you create Iman Cosmetics?
For years I could not find products for myself for photo shoots or for the runway. So I was always mixing and matching at home. I knew what I was looking for and that there was a need—whenever I traveled, the first question women asked me was ‘Where do you buy your foundation?,’ so I started Iman Cosmetics.

You went off on a bunch of beauty execs at the WWD Summit—what was that about?
I was the last guest speaker that evening and I was asked to talk about my business and my wishes and dreams. There were a few things that were very important for me to impart to the CEOs and the mass retailers who were there because many of them carry my products. I wanted to make it clear that I am frustrated. Mass market has this weird mentality about separating what is called ‘general market’ and makeup for women of color. The ‘women of color’ products are grouped together toward the end of the aisle. And then if [the mass retailer] has, let’s say, 1000 beauty doors, only 200 are allocated for women of color. How do you determine a store to be where a woman of color shops? If she’s coming to shop at your pharmacy and you put makeup for her in those stores, she will also buy it. When we buy fashion, no one says, ‘That’s the section for women of color.’ Who came up with this idea? When I wanted to do a liquid foundation, the retailers told me that black women don’t buy liquid foundation—they said they had problems with every brand that tried. I told them I’m not every brand. Within two months of launching my liquid foundation, it became the number one product in my line. But still, women can’t find it.

So, you have products that women are clamoring for, but the powers that be are holding you back from delivering them?
Exactly. There’s a rush to go to Asia for growth, but for us, growth exists right here at home. I consistently have women saying they can’t find my products in stores where they live. And I’ve been told by retailers that black women don’t shop online. They said, ‘We can’t put your whole line on the website.’ I said, ‘Just test it.’ It became the #2 brand on Walgreens.com—they were clueless. So while all these companies rush to Asia, we’re trying to grow right here at home. But there’s a glass ceiling. That mindset is belittling the customer and not servicing her. That’s a major frustration.

How would you like to see products displayed in drugstores?
Stop putting products for women with skin of color at the end of the aisle. Mix it all together. And understand what the customer is looking for. What are the products she’s talking about? Get those products in your store. I hear all these women on Twitter, Facebook, and our website talking about how they love Dr. Miracles hair care. So why isn’t it in more doors?

How do you stay connected to your own customers?
We have Twitter, Facebook and we give samples on our website. There is not a question that is not answered online. We answer everything that comes through.

When you started your line, did you think you would have more competition in 2012 than there actually is?
I thought there would be more lines out there, definitely. I thought at least a makeup artist line. You remember a couple of years ago—I call everything a couple of years ago—there was a resurgence of makeup artists lines. But the days when you can have a small company are gone. Nowadays if you ask for money, they don’t ask how many doors you are in but they ask how many Twitter followers you have. If you don’t have 300,000 followers…That’s the new world. I don’t know why people think that would translate into money. Because that means everyone who has a Twitter following can start a business. Suppose half of your Twitter followers are men who just want to look how you look. They’re not buying anything. They’re not the shoppers. I don’t need a fan. What I need is a customer. I need somebody I can service. I don’t need a man to look at my pictures. The collecting of friends and fans—what is that gonna do? There’s a difference between somebody who wants to play the fame game and somebody who wants to be a business person. I’m a business person. I don’t play the fame game. I’ve been playing myself for so long that it doesn’t matter to me. In whatever I do now, ultimately, I will not be remembered as a model. My legacy will be that I created Iman Cosmetics. I want that to be as strong as it could ever be.

Are women of color, particularly those with dark skin tones, less ignored by the beauty industry today, or is it the same as it was ten years ago?
I think fashion magazines have made strides. They feature more [models with] dark skin in magazines than they have ever before, but when it comes to the beauty industry, it’s definitely less. The darkest foundation shades on the general market don’t cut it. My mother, my two sisters, my daughter, and me, we’re all different shades. That’s the difference between what I do and what big companies do. My line has 16 to 18 shades created specifically for these women. 75% of my business is in foundation. No other company, including Estée Lauder, MAC and Bobbi Brown, can tell you that. That means that I have a loyal customer. When a woman likes a foundation color, she will buy it again. Those trendy makeup colors—you can find them for 99-cents. But foundation is a totally different ball game. Yes, I’m very surprised that there aren’t more companies catering to women of color, but I think smaller companies who would like to, feel like they can’t play with the big boys. They’re not invited to the sandbox. But entrepreneurs should not be discouraged. You’re not gonna be MAC overnight—longevity takes resilience and it takes keeping your eye on the ball.

What do you hope the beauty industry will be like in 10 years?
I hope a new generation of young girls do not see this invisible color line that exists now. I hope they will be able to get something that is suitable for them from any store they walk into. My line isn’t just for black women, it’s for women with skin of color. When we say black, it doesn’t just mean African-Americans, it means Africans, Asians, Maylaysians, Puerto Ricans, Latinas …I’m interested in a new language for beauty about a skin tone, rather than ethnic background. I still struggle with that, but I have to pick my battles. But the battle I’m concentrating on now is getting cosmetics to women of color. If there’s a store with makeup, it should be in there. Nobody says there are too many products for Cauasian women. But with us, they say, ‘Don’t you think there are enough products out there for women of color?’

 And that, my friends, is exactly why I never get tired of talking to Iman. You gotta love a supermodel who speaks her mind. What are your gripes about the beauty biz? Do tell!

Photo: Courtesy of Iman
Made In My Shade: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup

When I think of Urban Decay, in-your-face, edgy color immediately comes to mind. You know, the kind of makeup shades that are typically NSFW? So I was very intrigued when I heard the brand launched a foundation that’s supposed to look and feel “like wearing nothing at all.” I wondered: “Did they really get the texture right? Are the brown shades dark enough?” I requested a couple of samples so I could find out. I was a little nervous when I tried the makeup because I love Urban Decay—I did not want them to fail. So my verdict on the foundation is…

… I find Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup ($38) guilty of being fantastic. Shade 10.0 is a perfect match for my skin tone, and the oil-free formula is as sheer as promised. I wore the makeup in broad daylight and it didn’t look like I was all made up for a photo shoot or paparazzi ambush or something, which is one of my biggest fears about foundation. That, and the color being too red.  Neither are the case with this stuff. It’s pricey, but I think products that make your complexion look flawless are worth the extra dough. Agree or disagree?

P.S. Check out two other great foundations here and here.

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Do You Mix Your Makeup To Get The Perfect Shade? (Thandie Newton Does!)

I just got around to reading the May issue of People StyleWatch (I usually wait until I have time to devour it all in one sitting) and I saw an interesting beauty tip from Thandie Newton. It seems she has trouble finding a good foundation color for her skin tone, too.

Thandie told People StyleWatch: “I tap turmeric grains into my tinted moisturizer, foundation and bronzer to match the yellow undertones in my skin.”

How’s that for creativity? I usually mix my makeup with other beauty products—I would have never thought to add a spice to adjust the color. In addition to being genius, her tip reminds me that it’s not just brown-skinned women who have trouble finding makeup that matches. People with very yellow undertones or super-fair skin struggle a lot as well. And even if you have face makeup that works for you, sometimes it’s nice to combine it with other things just to get a different texture. Like adding liquid bronzer to foundation for a glow or blending foundation with moisturizer to make it more sheer.

How do you remix your makeup? Do you do it for fun or out of necessity? Share your best tips in the comments section. 

 

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Made In My Shade: Burberry Sheer Luminous Foundation

Oh, how I love it when a cosmetics company has the good sense to make foundation shades for dark skin tones. Today I’m all excited about the beautiful new brown colors from Burberry. Hooray! A brand that gets it!

Burberry just added four additional shades of liquid foundation, concealer and powder foundation to their Burberry Skin and Glow line to “meet the needs of the universal Burberry customer,” according to the press release. (Did you hear that, other beauty companies?) The lack of foundation shades for brown complexions continues to boggle my mind (same goes for BB creams), so news like this gives me hope.

I tried the Sheer Luminous Foundation in Trench No. 12 ($52) and it blends into my skin perfectly. If you’re a brown-skinned woman, you know that is such a good feeling. BTW, if you don’t like wearing powder over your base, you’ll like this formula—the finish is just matte enough. Interested? You can get it here. And expect more of these Made In My Shade posts on a regular basis. I will not stop blabbing about this issue until there’s nothing more to complain about!

On a positive note, what foundation is currently working for you?

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Made In My Shade: MAC Matchmaster SPF 15 Foundation

You know how hard it can be to find an amazing pair of jeans that fit perfectly? Well, that agonizing trial and error process is similar to what a lot of brown-skinned women like myself go through when shopping for foundation. That’s why I get excited when I discover a new one that actually matches my skin.

The foundation I’m into right now is called MAC Matchmaster SPF 15. Several of my favorite blushes are by MAC, but I’ve shied away from the brand’s face makeup in the past because most of it gives more coverage than I want, and the colors often wind up looking too red or orange on me. Not Matchmaster! Shade #8 totally disappears into my skin. And the texture is beautiful—very silky and light.

I wish that it wasn’t such a big deal to find a nice foundation in my color, but it is. Earlier this year when I was still on staff at Glamour, I got to rant in the March issue of the magazine about how sad it is that many mainstream cosmetics companies still don’t offer enough foundation and powder shades for deeper skin tones–it’s so frustrating! I’m not going to call out the brands that are lacking—you know who you are. And naming names won’t do anything for those of you readers who have dark skin—you know who they are, too. But I hope it will help if I let you guys know every time I try a foundation that works. So look for more “Made in My Shade” posts in the future. And be sure to share your makeup picks in the comments section below. Together maybe we can save other women from time-consuming, disappointing trips to the makeup counter or drugstore.

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