Thursday, 12 November 2009

Sister Did I Fail You?

Today I was in Central London with my son. Having visited his Asthma Consultant, I decided to take a detour through the department stores on Oxford Street to have a good nosey at the luxury cosmetics and makeup brands on offer.

It was interesting to watch the marketing in play, each counter positioned just so, the most expensive items on prominent display, colourful signs tantalising you with 'Special Offers'.

I like to hover at the counters just long enough to get a feel for what colours are popular and what the latest trends might be --- but not too long that I become a target for the eager Sales Assistant!

While doing my 'hover' at the Bobbi Brown counter, I noticed a 'sista' on the other side of the booth, having her 'makeover'. She was dark skinned and her Consultant was much lighter, so I was curious to see how this transformation would turn out, what colours they would use to complement her natural skin tones and so on.

While ignoring the approaching Saleswoman, I realised the sista had seen me watching her and was trying to catch my eye; I turned my head to acknowledge her and she mouthed over the way: "How does it look?


I punked out.

With the Saleswoman AND her Consultant both looking at me (staring me down I should add), I just didn't have the balls to be honest. Instead, I nodded my head and smiled :"it's nice".... but I felt like such a liar and I am sure she could tell I was being disingenuous, probably because my nose was now about a foot from my face!

All the time I'd been watching her being 'done'; I had been wondering what exactly the Consultant was doing?

Was it just her eyes? Her lips? Foundation and cheeks?

Having the sista turn to face me and ask me for my opinion did not help answer this question... I was getting that uncomfortable prickly feeling, being put on the spot like that, and still I was racking my brain:
"What have they done to her?"

This sista was pregnant; maybe she had the dreaded pregnancy mask but she did not have an even tone to the complexion on her face. Imagine you drew a circle around your T-zone, well, unfortunately, this area of her face was several shades lighter than the rest... I was trying to figure out whether this was a result of the makeup or whether it was genetic (or even the result of pregnancy or bleaching). I would have thought that if this was a naturally occurring phenomenon, the make-up artist would have tried to use a concealer to even out this young woman's complexion...  but no... so then I had to wonder whether she'd had her eyes done but to be honest I couldn't see anything. I couldn't even see blusher on her cheeks... so it had to be foundation right? Otherwise what on earth had that Consultant been doing for so long?

The sista lumbered away without buying any products, secretly I was happy for her but my eyes followed her through the store. Part of me wanted to run after her and explain, the other part of me was aware that the Booth Staff were still watching me... man, I punked out.

I should have run after her and told her to check her reflection in her compact outside the dept, where the lighting would be natural and MUCH BETTER; so she could gauge the outcome accordingly. I should have told her that I couldn't actually see what she'd had done from where I was standing - which may have been a good thing ie the makeup could have been very sheer, thus avoiding that 'caked on' look. I should have suggested another brand which specialised in darker complexions and with which she may have had more success. I should have wished her all the best for her child's imminent delivery. I should have reassured her that she was beautiful without the makeup anyway, but I didn't do any of these things. I just watched her walk away.

I feel like I failed her.

So here are a few tips to those of you I CAN shout to:
  • Never choose a foundation colour based on how it looks INSIDE the store; go outside into natural light, you'll have a much better idea.
  • Never colour match foundation on the back of your hand, apply to your lower cheek or jawline and blend. If it disappears it's a keeper. If it's too light you will look ashen; if it's too dark, too red or too yellow - it'll be obvious. Trust your instincts no matter how good the sales assistant/makeup consultant says you look!(Or lily-livered passers-by like myself for that matter!)
  • Liquid foundation is light and easiest to work with; however, coverage results may vary, therefore - choose the TYPE of foundation that is best for you (powder, cream, liquid etc).
  • Some skins are virtually flawless and those women can get away with a light dusting of powder or bronzer for a matte or sun kissed look; women with dark circles or acne scarring etc usually need heavier coverage but 'heavier' in this instance does not mean CAKED ON. It just means you may need a liquid or cream foundation instead of just powder.(Note, some cream foundations are too oily for dark skins and can make them appear SHINY!)
Ultimately, you wanna look like this: (give or take the eye and lip makeup depending on how you do)

as opposed to looking like this:

Foundation Facts from Various Internet Resources

Foundation helps to color the skin evenly and hide the imperfections of the skin such as scars, light and dark colored areas.
There are different types of make up foundations like emulsions, creams, liquids, cakes, powders, waterproof and spray foundation.
Emulsions! Emulsions are packed in tubes and are used for variety of skin types. This type of make up foundation gives less sheen than cream or liquid foundation. This foundation covers the blemishes also.
Creams! Cream foundations are suitable for dry skin as they contain high proportion of oils and are creamy. Cream foundations provide heavy coverage but give a glossy finish. These have more moisturizing properties.
Liquids! Liquid foundations are easy to use and are packaged in bottles. These are available in oil based and water based formulas. These are formulated for all skin types. They cover the skin smoothly with a light sheen and can be best suited to cover blemishes and scars.
Cakes or sticks! These are solid in form and have greater drying effect. Due to drying effect, it is suited for oily skin. With dense matt cover, these are good for covering scars and blemishes.  Cakes or stick foundations are popular for photographic and stage work but are too heavy for everyday use.
Powders! The powder foundation control shine and provide oil-blotting. Compact powders are heavily formulated as they contain a certain amount of foundation. Powders are used during the day for touching up and help to reinforce coverage.
Waterproof make up foundation! Sometimes foundation does not last long. This is possible especially in summer due to humidity and higher temperatures.  During this weather, waterproof make up foundation is of great help to your skin. These are water resistant and make your skin look glamorous in spite of sweating conditions.
Spray foundation! Spray foundation is preferred for acne scarring and post surgical skin. It is used to retain the make up for long hours. Spray them at any time over your make up to refresh. These come in different shades for different skin tones.

Stay beautiful til next post :)


Coco Pebb said...

I think we have all been in that situation...where you want to say, "Don't buy that!" It seems as though you have a professional knowledge of cosmetics. Is so, what brand of foundation do you suggest for women of color? I know it should suit your skin type, but I am looking for the wide variation in suiting skin tone. What is your opinion?

Gigglz said...

I'm going to watch to hear Bajan Lily's response on this one. But I have found that a good soap and moisturizer trumps foundation any day. And in addition my secret is now using a primer with no foundation to give the silky smooth look without having anything heavy on.

Mark said...

OK ... I am a man ... I appreciate the effort and the potential that certain make-ups can bring ... but surely less is more ....

I am a kissomaniac - I hate to taste anything on my tongue apart from natural skin ...

I think men understand that no woman is perfect, we tend to expect skin that is slightly flawed, and we love you more for it ...

'Then the argument would be - 'well we women are not doing for you me' ... well who is it for ..??

Having been in your presence several times - and appreciated the beauty you possess Bajan Lily, you are clearly of the 'less is best' opinion that I am ....

I have a preference for natural, dark skin ... that said - on occasion the slight accentuation on lips and eyes and cheekbones can make a woman more alluring and give an exoticism that will let my mind wander to eroticism .. which is not a bad thing ...

But still less is more ....

Spots, bumps, and even scar tissue should be expected and equally so - loved and appreciated, as it defines the person who wears that skin, that lovely wondeerful dark / brown skin ... India Arie says it all for me (I've changed one word!)

"Skin so brown, lips so round
Baby how can I be down?
Beautiful mahogany, you make me feel like a KING
Tell me what's that thing,
you do
that makes me wanna get next to you"

Bajan Lily said...

Sorry to respond in reverse order, but here goes:

Of course I totally agree - less is more. The images above can be viewed as two extremes, as you rightly point out - I don't wear much makeup myself - so this is more geared towards choosing a foundation for those special occasions when I do :)

Loving scars and spots? I'm sad to say I'm not at that place just yet, getting on in my years now, and there are times when I just want to recapture that flawless youthful 'look' as opposed to wearing my age (battle scars of life) so clearly on my face - so when I wear makeup I want it to 'colour me beautiful' without making me look fake or plastic!

Loving scars and spots... guess I got some internal remodelling to do in order to get my head ready for that change! Thanks!

Bajan Lily said...

What sort of primer are you using? A concealer (pencil, tube?); oil control fluid or very light foundation liquid?

I agree with you (as per my comment to Mark), less is more and there s no substitue for well conditioned skin. I don't use soap on my face, instead I favour non foaming SLS free gel washes or cream cleansers which are both gentle yet effective.

I used to have this fantastic moisturiser by Lab.Garnier enriched with Vit A, C & E but they don't make it anymore (booo), now I use a light Vitamin E cream.

However, as I mentioned to Mark, there are SOME times when I want to go that extra mile, (and I don't want my scars showing), so I go for light coverage in liquid form. I've found that if you get the shade and consistency right you really don't need to slap it on, and can therefore remain as natural looking as possible :)

Bajan Lily said...

This was definitely a 'Don't buy that' moment. I'm not against BB cosmetics but that shade was just NOT right for that sista.

In the UK I've found MAC and Iman to be very popular amongst my shaded friends; with Bobbi Brown & Revlon following closely.

Personally, I found it difficult to find my perfect match within their ranges, and so I now use a lesser known brand developed by a young Black entrepreneur (Yana Cosmetics).

I've found that most 'smaller brands' - particularly when developed by sistas, tend to have been founded to fill a gap in the range of shades available for women of colour and/or the special needs some of our skins have e.g hyperpigmentation, scarring, unevenness etc.

The key to choosing a brand is making sure that (a) the colour is right for your complexion, not too red, orange or yellow; and (b) the type of foundation is right for your skin, no point slapping on an oil based foundation when you have oily skin! Note: Black skin tends to naturally be oilier than Caucasian skin, so oil free liquid foundations and sheer pressed powders are recommended (esp. since you'll be wearing your usual moisturiser underneath anyway!)

I now I've been reluctant to come out and say 'pick me' on any brand but that's because the brands available in the UK (for coloured complexions) are limited, and then they only bring in a select few from their range, so whereas you may get 10 shades of brown from MAC, Revlon or Covergirl in the US, we may only see 3-5 of those in the UK --- compared to 12 from Yana and 10 from K by Beverly Knight.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a fashion fair experience! In that situation there is no really diplomatic way of stating the facts without feelings being hurt.

In any case the lady probably felt the same way as you as she did not makea purchase; because if she was happy she would buy something. Take it from a lover of makeup"


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