Sisters are doing it for themselves

Women of colour are challenging the cosmetic industry giants and winning, says facialist Dija Ayodele


Sisters are doing it for themselves

Throughout my adult life, I’ve seen beauty brands sidestep the issue of providing all-inclusive colour palettes that serve the needs of all women. I've found shopping for foundation beyond frustrating, with so little options among a sea of shades created for Caucasian women. Or worse still, going to rebuy a current base to find it's been discontinued.

Thankfully times are changing and through this necessity for a more diverse offering women of colour have put their entrepreneurial hats on and have begun to develop cosmetics specifically for darker skin tones.

Like me, British-Asian Farah Naz had become fed up with not being able to find foundations that matched her skin tone, so she launched EX1 Cosmetics in 2011 to cater specifically for Asian skin. While I am far from the target complexion, the foundation has a beautiful finish and would easily make it into my beauty bag.

For now, I console myself with its Love Story Blush, £9.50, a matt brownstone red. I've been wearing this with my latest find, Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Fluide Foundation, £34. With a whooping 10 out of 24 shades for warmer complexions you'd be hard pressed not to find one that suits you – go Laura!

Similarly, Melissa Sinclair was disappointed but inspired by the lack of quality natural Afro hair-care products in the UK, so from her kitchen she launched Big Hair Beauty. Being a naturalista myself, I swear by the Deep Conditioning Hair Treatment, £14.95, and the Moisture Me Whipped Butter Moisturiser, £14.95, which includes nourishing ingredients like cocoa butter and avocado oil to keep my tresses in good condition and full of bounce. It’s about time brands realised that women who wear their hair natural don’t want to apply cheap nasties like mineral oil.

I have huge respect for these women because they acknowledge a gaping hole in the cosmetics industry and are doing something about it. I have the same respect for the women of colour who are offering online shopping and review destinations just for us. Sable Beauty, Antidote Street, BeautybyZara, BrownBeauty and the newly launched JewelTonesBeauty are changing the landscape and are an invaluable resource.

Which is why I'm feeling optimistic about the future of cosmetics for women of colour, since half the battle is knowing where to look. I, for one, haven't had a hard time finding products that work for me for a while.

Photograph: Mark Tomalty/Masterfile/Corbis