Tag: black beauty

INTERVIEW: All Shades Covered – Beauty Platform for WOC


Channel 4 News reported that black women in the UK spend six times more on haircare products than white women. But what is the beauty buying experience like for black women, who are essentially, the jewels in crown of this burgeoning beauty industry?

Sanmi Ogunmola and Tommy Williams (who made it into the Forbes List – ’30 under 30′) met in Nigeria while working for a fashion and beauty internet startup company. It was challenging for customers navigating the fragmented beauty industry in Nigeria and upon return to the UK, the duo noticed similar challenges here. Flash forward and the e-commerce beauty platform All Shades Covered (ASC), was created, with the aim of providing women of colour (WOC) a seamless and efficient customer experience.

asc3

Photo credit: Forbes / ASC

What was the trigger for the inception of ASC?
Both of us have sisters and we’re aware of the effort and time black women spend on sourcing hair products, finding a salon to do their hair and the amount of time spent getting their hair done. Using our e-commerce backgrounds, we saw an opportunity to improve this experience.

When did ASC launch?
We spent months doing research and speaking to people, then had a soft launch of the website in October 2016, where we invited some people to buy hair extensions from the site. We also had some organic traffic generated via word of mouth.

“Coming from an investment banking background, my family were a bit unsure about me moving into hair and beauty, especially when I moved to Nigeria, as I’m not Nigerian.” Now they can see that ASC has become a reality, they’re a lot more at ease.” – Tommy

How did you choose the name, ‘All Shades Covered’?
It’s quite direct and describes whom we aim to cater for. Black and mixed-raced women come in all different shades and tend to receive an inferior level of service when it comes to their beauty needs – which we want to change. This doesn’t stop women of other races from buying our products if they also cater to their needs.

Has there ever been any confusion over what ASC means?
It’s quite funny actually, when we first started some people thought we are a gossip site because of the ‘shade’ / ‘throwing shade’ term. Others thought we sold make up and nude tights. However, when you visit the website it’s very clear that we provide hair extensions and products, so people are catching on.

How does ASC help the avid beauty consumer?
As well as selling hair products and extensions, we can also guarantee the quality of the hair as we know where it comes from. We deliver hair extension purchases within 3 working days, so that customers can get their hair done within that same week. We’re starting with hair products and will branch out into other beauty products, providing customers with a holistic beauty experience.

How did you decide what types of hair extensions to sell?
We did some market research and sent out a survey but the responses were quite varied, from customers preferring straight to lose curl extensions and everything in between! So, we started off with 3 style textures – curly, body wave and straight at 12 -24 inches.

“Selling hair extensions and products for natural hair aren’t mutually exclusive. Some natural hair women use extensions and wigs as a form of protective styling.” – Tommy

How do you ensure the quality of the hair extensions you sell?
We have partners on the ground in China who quality check the hair on various parameters such as, hair shedding rates and strength before and after washing. The hair isn’t Chinese hair, it’s just that the processing factories we work with in China have been able to streamline the hair production process while maintaining quality.

With your focus on hair extensions, do you feel ASC alienates a section of its current target market – black women who have gone natural?
We have hair care products suitable for women with natural hair and those who wear extensions and/or have relaxed hair, so we cater for all segments of our target market. We’re fully aware of the natural hair movement, but also acknowledge, that hair extensions account for a significant proportion of the market and hair style choices of many black women. We also have a blog with tips on how to look after natural hair and maintaining hair extensions /weaves.

How do two men provide tips on looking after natural hair and hair extensions?
Our team is made up of predominately women and we’re about to take two of them on a permanent basis. Some have natural hair, others wear hair extensions – they’re active on social media, passionate and knowledgeable about hair and beauty. We get a lot of advice from them.

 

ASC 1

Photo credit: ASC

Do you sell any UK haircare brands?
Yes, we do and we’ve recently added some to the site.

Is the ASC customer base only in Europe?
Currently Europe is our biggest market (especially Italy and France), but we’ve also seen some organic customer growth in parts of Africa, including Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa. Expanding into Africa is also key goal for us in the future.

“Because the industry is so fragmented we have ASC hair reps – hair stylists selling our hair extensions to their clients, after which they receive a commission.” – Sanmi

As a new business in a crowded market are you worried about competition?
We like competition, it’s motivation! We’ve done our research and focus on providing the best customer experience. We’re aware of the competition but that doesn’t deter us from our own plans.

Any exciting developments?
Dyed hair extensions and kinky hair! We’ve had a few requests on these, so we’re listening to our customers.

What does the future hold for ASC?
We want to be a renowned beauty brand online and on the high streets.

You can check out the ASC website, which currently has a 20% spring sale and keep up with them on Twitter.

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Black hair and beauty, hair extension, kinky hair, ombre wigs, makeup for black women, natural hair, hair extensions, weave, hair weaves, black beauty

Is Black Beauty still in the shadows? Iman and Philomena discuss


Yes, we are still talking about this issue, why? Because it’s still an issue! There has been an effort by big brands to make foundations for darker skin tones. In 2014, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o became the first black ambassador for Lancôme. In 2016 L’Oréal UK launched #YoursTruly campaign, where they expanded their foundation range covering 23 shades.

This is all great, but darker shades are not always accessible on the high street for the everyday woman. British plus-size model, Philomena Kwao caught up with the legendary African Supermodel, Iman to discuss.

Iman face powder has been my staple for years, I love it! Before using it I didn’t wear face powder as I never found a shade I was completely happy with. Even when I had acne, I didn’t wear makeup partly because I didn’t have confidence I’d find my shade but also because I didn’t want to add anything else to my already troubled skin.

Iman cosmetics
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It’s good that big brands are expanding their ranges, but I don’t think we should just give our money to them on a plate. There are other brands which have included products for darker skin tones a part of their core ethos and we should be supporting them too!

L’Oréal was established in 1909, and in 2016 they expanded their range. Hmmm…ok, I guess as the saying goes “better late than never”, can be applied here?

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Easy headwrap styles


One of the most conspicuous symbols in African fashion is the headwrap (known locally by various names across Africa). The UK is no stranger to cold weather, so why not wrap up and keep warm while still looking good?!

In African cultures, headwraps are more than just a fashion statement, having definitive cultural significance.

We can’t deny the rise of headwraps in the African diaspora as a staple fashion accessory.

AFWL water mk

Here are some great headwrap styles I found and will be trying out myself. Which one will you be wearing?! When you decide, remember to wear your crown like a queen!

Comment below…

 

 

 

 

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Women of Colour vs. The Beauty Industry – who’s winning the battle?


Nykhor Paul’s Instagram post probably made some so-called make-up ‘artists’ blush when she put them on blast a few days ago! The South Sudanese model has put race and make-up back on the catwalk in a post she put on her Instagram page: @nykhor

Dear white people in the fashion world!

Please don’t take this the wrong way but it’s time you people get your shit right when it comes to our complexion! Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional show when all the other white girls don’t have to do anything but show up wtf!

Don’t try to make me feel bad because I am blue black its 2015 go to Mac, Bobbi Brown, Makeup forever, Iman cosmetic, black opal, even Lancôme and Clinique carried them plus so much more. There’s so much options our there for dark skin tones today.

A good makeup artist would come prepared and do there research before coming to work because often time you know what to expect especially at a show! Stop apologizing it’s insulting and disrespectful to me and my race it doesn’t help, seriously! Make an effort at least!

That goes for NYC, London, Milan, Paris and Cape Town plus everywhere else that have issues with black skin tones.

Just because you only book a few of us doesn’t mean you have the right to make us look ratchet. I’m tired of complaining about not getting booked as a black model and I’m definitely super tired of apologizing for my blackness!!!! Fashion is art, art is never racist it should be inclusive of all not only white people, shit we started fashion in Africa and you modernize and copy it! Why can’t we be part of fashion fully and equally?

Nykhor Paul instagram dear white people, make-up in fashion for balck women in not equal
Thousands of people seem to agree…

There isn’t much I can really add to this apart from, YES! Nykhor Paul sums up the frustrations of many women of colour (WoC) with vivid memories of scouring make-up counters for products that complement their shade but to no avail.

Within the mist of this ethnic beauty discourse, it’s important to remember that make-up does not make women beautiful. Confidence and embracing your own natural beauty is the foundation; make-up just enhances natural beauty (which is already present) and is fun to experiment with it.

I don’t wear make-up often but I do have those memories of walking into stores, seeing a shade and hoping it will compliment me. I’ve sat in the make-up chair (as you do) allowing the shop assistant to brush all over my face and then it comes…. that sinking feeling when the mirror is flipped around and I think; “this looks terrible”.

There has been an increase in brands catering for darker skin tones but due this frustration, I became numb to make-up adverts; experience has taught me that ‘I don’t really fit’ with many of these products.

Jourdan Dunn said makeup artist wont touch black skin

However, one of my clearest memories of make-up advertising that made me actually walk into a shop and spend money without hesitation was as I strolled through Herald Square in NYC, and saw an advert for Maybelline with Jessica White. When Lupita Nyong’o became the first black ambassador for Lancôme, a brand which had never even entered my mind (to use for myself) i thought “hmm that looks good on her, so it could look good on me too”…

Lancome Air De Teint (shade 13)
Apparently Lancôme’s Air de Teint foundation comes in various shades for all skin tones.
Picture: Lancôme Paris

Two years ago Jourdan Dunn, who earlier this year became the first black model (since Naomi Campbell in 2002) to have a solo cover on UK Vogue Magazine, spoke about how a make-up artist felt uncomfortable doing her make-up because she was black. Like any profession make-up artists should hone their craft, especially if working in the international fashion industry and should be prepared to work with all types of models. View the video below from 7:28 seconds:

Nykhor Paul’s condemnation is of make-up artists who are supposed to be at the top of their game, highlights the psychological hurdles black models face when going to fashion shoots, where they have to worry that a make-up artist will prefer not to work with them making them feel that there are ‘wrong’ in some way, where their white counterparts can just turn up, without that extra worry. It’s a psychological slap in the face for WoC who have to become adept researchers when buying make-up, otherwise left feeling like they are the problem, their skin is wrong because it doesn’t fit. Any woman can feel like this regardless of social status.

In a recent article by Reni Eddo-Lodge in Stylist Magazine, I came across the UK based website Brown Beauty Talk providing a platform where WoC can find, make-up tips, events and much more. Sites like this can be a saving grace, providing a space where WoC don’t have to apologise for the ‘inconvenience’ of the skin tone. In the same article, Stylist declared their beauty pledge, promising to work with modelling agencies to ensure that women who appear in the magazine have a variety of skin tones and hair textures. To do this, they want OUR help; by telling them how this can be achieved (email: faceofbeauty@stylist.co.uk). Just like Nykhor Paul and many women who have spoken out about this issue, the rest of us need to do the same, if we don’t nothing will change.

make up for dark skin
Make up for dark skin is still an issue in the beauty industry.
Picture: Google images

Even if the beauty industry starts to listen by adding more variety to their palettes, this ‘problem’ can become an opportunity for WoC to empower themselves:

Become the cosmetic scientist who develops beauty products…

Become the make-up artist who applies these beauty products…

Create the magazines and forums which discuss these beauty products…

Set up businesses that sell these beauty products, creating reasonable prices for the consumer…

One of the basic concepts of economics is supply and demand. When a product such as foundations for darker skin tones is scarce, but demand is high, the the price of that product will be high. This is why many WoC, complain about having to spend more money on premium brands who provide suitable products. If supply increases to meet demand over time, prices for the consumer will be more competitive.

It can be done.

Whether it’s foundation, blush, face powder, lipstick or eye shadow the demand has and always will be there so there is no excuse for darker skin tones to be ignored. The belief is that black goes with anything, but will the beauty industry ever fully embrace women of colour? Maybe black isn’t always in fashion afterall.

If you’ve been searching for the right shades for your skin tone then I would say YouTube should be your new best friend (if it isn’t already). Here are some beauty vloggers with tutorials for WoC, and there are lot more on YouTube:

Lizlizlive’s review starts at 1:10 seconds

Chanel Boateng

Styles by Fash

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