Born in Martinique of French and Martinican descent, Aïmara grew up in Canada. In 1999, she graduated from HEC Montreal Business School and started her career at L’Oreal Canada as Product Manager for Makeup. In 2004, she moves to Paris and joins Sephora as Group Product Manager for Sephora’s private label products (Sephora Collection). In 2011, she takes over blackUp cosmetics’ Marketing Direction and jumps into the Brown Skin Makeup Universe… Since 2015, Aïmara works as a Brown Skin Specialist Consultant for Cosmetic Brands and Cosmetic Manufacturers.
1 – What are the international brands of makeup that meet the specificities of black or dark skins and what are the differences they present in their physiology that would deserve more adequated products?
Brown skin is different from Caucasian skin. Brown skin specificities include mix-to-oily skin, dry skin, hyperkeratosis, dyschromia, skin density and texture. One of the biggest differences is that it doesn’t age the same way. Darker skin doesn’t wrinkle much and with less sagging than Caucasian skin. So when we have a look at the general cosmetic offer we can observe that anti-wrinkle, rich and firming skin care is the most important segment, and we can ask ourselves if it is really representative of the needs of all women. In terms of makeup result these specificities have also an impact and this is why adapted textures are as important as the color itself.
Most International Brands are positioning themselves as Universal Brands…but we can certainly place MAC as the historical most representative brand in terms of color offering. It’s in the makeup market that brown skins have suffered the most from a lack of representation. MAC offered them the appropriate array of colors and became THE reference on the market. Today even if we see more and more adapted shades, not a lot of brands have an array of options that perfectly represent all women. Fenty Beauty is probably challenging all the International Brands not only because it was launched with 40 shades of foundation but also because the color rainbow of those 40 shades is quite well done, the texture is adapted and corresponds better to brown skin than other foundation ranges with 40 shades available in the Trade.
2 – Is there, for example, makeup for black or dark skins that is natural, organic or vegan? The makeup that is nowadays developed in the Caribbean region, with local and natural actives, more specifically serves this audience?
There are several natural or organic brands that are focusing on darker skin specificities and needs but most of them offer skincare not makeup. Organic makeup is a smaller segment and getting high color pay-off, which is important for darker skin tone, is not always easy. Therefore I don’t have seen a lot of organic makeup brands specialized for darker skin tones but some of the natural/organic makeup line have some suitable colors. I’m thinking about Alima Pure that offers a couple of darker shades in its foundations, or Couleur Caramel a French organic makeup brand with not a lot but some shades that can fit brown skin tones.
Alimara Pure – closer shades
3 – In Brazil in general, makeup brands, in a line of products, meet the tonalities and some to the physiological characteristics, such as mixed skin, or mixed-to-oily.. Is that enough from the physiological point of view? And from the marketing point of view?
This is an important concern to take into consideration because makeup texture needs to be different for oily skin, and a matte finish will look a lot better. Other product characteristics like getting a good coverage to even out the skin without feeling too heavy are also important. Transfer proof formula are also very appreciated for darker color of foundation and colors that bring radiance to the skin, not an ashy grey finish. Undertones are very important and even if you get some darker shades in a line up it needs to be well declined between the yellow, orange and red. This is where brands often get wrong or not totally right… Some shades are nice but others are not. Finally a foundation should not turn ashy on a darker skin and most formulas with sun protection do give a grey shadow to brown skins.
4 – What shades and textures of lipstick, blush and shadows look best on the black skin, for example in winter, when the skin is dryer and shades tend to wine? Are they the same for very dark skin? The very dark skin has a beige tint that is difficult to emphasize with just the blush. What would help?
It’s all about pigments! To get a good result on darker skin any color cosmetic needs to get a high percentage of pigment. It’s easier to do with lipsticks (cream) than with blushes or shadows (powders). And if the color pay-off is good it needs the right pigments…as an example the black pigments that doesn’t turn grey on darker skin! All textures of color makeup can look great: matte, glossy, shimmery, metallic… Most important is to choose beautiful saturated colors or deep tones that will reveal better on darker skin tones.
Contouring and highlighting is just amazing on darker complexion and is more interesting than just applying a blush. Of course a touch of blush will also bring color to the cheeks but contouring will define and modulate with more impact. If the highlighter is made with very thin shimmers that bring light without being seen on the skin and the contouring shade is dark enough to emphasize the shadows contouring can beautifully modulate the face features.
5 – Here in Brazil there are brands that develop bases for the black or dark skin in appropriate shades, but in the Brazilian summer, humid and quite hot, that melts any makeup at a party, what can be done? Powders or other complements?
As of today most of the liquid and cream makeup formula don’t stay put or don’t dry enough to stay in place under extreme climate conditions. Silicones that are used in most of the formulas are often one of the causes of that melting and heavy effect. Powders of course are there to set and keep the skin matte and dry…I think this issue is very interesting and important to take into consideration and more R&D should focus on this particular question. Hopefully we will soon get products that can stay put under extreme condition without suffocating the skin. I’m working on a foundation without silicones that will hit the market next year and could be that holly grail…