In Moscow, I went into a Mac store hoping to finally get my makeup game right. I’d been using Black Opal foundation for so many years and it had served me well. But I was now ready to emulate the queens of YouTube and upgrade.
First of all, you’d be surprised, but they have makeup shades on the darker spectrum in Russia too – although not that many. Nars stopped just a shade below mine. Followed by Naked, Urban Decay and of course Mac. Why would there be more when there are less than 50,000 black people in all of Russia? Russia being a country of 144,000,000.
I walked in, and a happy young lady came up to me asking if I needed help. Two things running through my mind:
1. She’s smiling (which is rare). 2. She speaks ENGLISH!!!
I sat down, wiped my face clean and the exam began. She was a miracle worker. I bought the entire set and went back to my apartment to bask in my new buys. In the following months I went on to slay my makeup proudly. And whenever I was done, I was aaab.so.luu.tely glistening.
Fast forward a year and a bit, I was absent-mindedly perusing through lipsticks in Edgars – Grove, when an especially flamboyant makeup artist approached me. Long story short, he let me know I’ve been walking around in a tone too red and too dark. I have yellow undertones, you see. I’ve always known that, but I didn’t realise the code at the bottom of my foundation bottle meant it would be too warm for me (It said NW45). The W being warm. Right now I’m a NC40 (C being cool). In other words, the people I call friends never once bothered to pull me to the side and say I looked disturbing. However, to be fair, if I didn’t register there was a problem, how would anyone else? You’d have to be standing close enough to be breathing down my neck to notice.
Naturally, I have nothing against the Russian lady who hooked me up. I don’t think she’s a quack, but in the words of my NOW makeup artist,
What does she know about Black skin? Lol
I imagine she probably never had someone as dark as me come in for a consultation before. Either that or the lighting inside was too dim. (By the way, I know I was many people’s firsts in Russia.. 😊 in ways I hope to get into in the future.)
As black African women with dark skin prone to hyperpigmentation, landing a good foundation is akin to dating in Windhoek: victory is uncertain, getting played is likely, and expectations are generally better than reality. Plus, mistakes are expensive — make-up requires you to gather your coin.
So moving forward… knowing your undertones upfront when talking with a makeup consultant, will aid them and yourself in figuring out what is likely to work outside in natural light. But how do you know what your undertone is?
- look at the color of your veins on the inside of your wrist. If they look green, your skin’s undertone is golden or yellow, hence WARM. If the veins appear blue, the skin’s undertone is pink or blue, hence COOL. And If there’s a mixture of both warm and cool hues, then you might fall into the NEUTRAL group. But what if you can’t tell what your veins look like at all because your undertone is the same as your actual skin because..duh.. dark skin tone? Which brings us to the next method..
- Look at the clothes and jewellery that compliment you. In other words, cool-undertoned people might work well with blues, cool reds and silver jewellery. Warmer-undertoned people may look better in yellows, oranges, warmer hues and gold jewellery.
- Another amazing method is just standing against a white background and determining which colours appear the most apparent in your skin. Try it, you’re not just pure brown or black.
Remember! Whatever you do to your face, do to your neck.