A few years ago I was using the very orange foundation from Fashion Fair and it wasn’t working for me, so I tried Lancôme. The Lancôme foundation made me look grey and I couldn’t fix it no matter what I tried. So I went to Prescriptives and had them create a foundation for my unique skin tone. The woman at the counter notices the yellow undertone in my skin and created a color that was almost perfect. It was expensive, but at least I wasn’t grey or orange.
When I went to purchase the concealer to match, she wasn’t available and I ended up with another clerk who gave me a color that was one shade up from what would actually be a match for my skin. When I protested he said,
“Well you don’t want to take all the character out of your skin.” He was Asian and didn’t even bother looking at my skin, he just picked something up. I returned it that same day for the one that would actually cover my blemishes.
So his logic was to cover up my blemishes with something that would just highlight them. Makes no sense, but I’ve heard things like this my whole makeup life. Eventually they discontinued Prescriptives, and I was forced to go to Clinique. I was matched to a color at one store, and purchased it without any incident. But nothing lasts forever and it eventually ran out.
The day came when I had to repurchase the foundation. When I got to the counter I told the girl the color that I wanted and she looked puzzled. It was winter and I was pretty light, but I really don’t change color that drastically to need something different anyway. After completing my purchase the clerk, a Latina, asked me:
“Do you always get colors that are too light for you?” She seemed genuinely concerned.
It wasn’t the question that bothered me, but the assumption that she knew my skin better than I did. I pressed on without saying much just a, “It’s my color.”
My next stop was Mac. I decided to try it because the Clinique foundation would oxidize on my skin and get darker. My first visit was awful. A young, Caucasian woman told me that she wanted me to use a sheer foundation formula so that my acne scars could show. Well she said freckles. Again she told me that I shouldn’t cover up the character in my skin. She followed that up by applying a very dark foundation to my face and explaining that this was my color. It was two shades too dark. I looked like a Black person wearing Black face.
I informed her that my scars weren’t character, nor were they freckles, but the aftermath of acne, and I wanted them covered or what would the point be of wearing makeup. There was no answer, just a blank stare. I decided to go to another mall where I found a Black clerk at that Mac counter. He matched my skin to Mac’s NC 45 in their Studio Fix formula and it was perfect. Then he sold me the concealer to match.
It should have been easy the next time around, right? Wrong. The next time I went in to replace the foundation and concealer combo, the young man wasn’t there. I was again confronted by a Latina who asked me why I wanted to wear a foundation that was too light for me. This was after just looking at my skin.
She hadn’t cleaned my face, applied three different colors, then picked the doses match as her predecessor had; she was just going by what she thought Black people were supposed to wear on their face. It didn’t match. And I’m not just living in a fantasy either, I always end-up looking like I’m in Black face. Even my neck is lighter than the foundation they put on me.
On my next visit I got it into my head that I should try highlighting my cheekbones. What a huge mistake. I wanted to try this using a concealer that was a shade or two lighter than my complexion, but the clerk refused to give it to me. She told me that the one I had was lighter than my skin anyway… even though I asked for two separate colors.
I was so angry that I walked away without any further confrontation. I was over arguing about the complexion of my skin with people who should know better. Even now, I still haven’t bought the concealer in a lighter color because I am so angry at the Mac counter in the mall that’s not 4 miles from my house.