I once had a rather exhausting conversation with a potential makeup client that went something like this:
Her: Do you use M.A.C.?
Me: Of course! I have several M.A.C. products in my kit, but also use a variety of other brands.
Her: Nah, but I wear M.A.C. You got Studio Fix in that kit?
Me: Yes. But for the purpose of photo shoots, I prefer to use foundations that are formulated especially for use on-camera. Your pictures will turn out great, as these products are made to look amazing when the lights flash.
Her: Oh, no. I only use M.A.C. Nothing else can touch my face.
Me: [insert raised eyebrow here] I see. Have you had bad experiences with other products? if you don’t mind my asking, why do you only use their makeup?
Her: I never tried any of that other stuff. M.A.C. is the best.
Oh, ok . . .
The conversation went on for a little while longer, and from it I gathered one simply fact: M.A.C. mania is alive and well! Hearing some women’s unwavering obsession with the brand, you would think makeup was born when M.A.C opened its doors. Contrary to popular belief, the brand is but 20 years old in the United States—far younger than most of us! And many would be surprised to know that it’s owned by none other than Estée Lauder. I can only imagine the horror on all the young makeup snobs’ faces in knowing that their holy grail line was owned by our grandmother’s favorite cosmetic company. Ha!
Now trust and believe, I adore M.A.C. as much as the next chick (if not more)! Please believe I keep a mean Lipglass and Mineralize SkinFinish on deck. The allure goes without saying. You walk through the cosmetics department and are automatically drawn to the counter with the bold black/white/wooden decor, booming music, and super-hip employees. You would swear multicolor asymmetrical razor cuts, tattoos, and fly clothes were in their job description. Then you see the products: bright shadows and lip glosses in every hue and finish imaginable, yellow to blues, shimmers to mattes—the works! And the price point? More than your average drug store brand of course, but certainly a steal for a professional-grade line. What’s not to love—right? Well, maybe . . .
But what about all the other amazing products on the market—those that also cater to the needs of women of color and have been proven to give us high quality, long-lasting results? Surely M.A.C. isn’t the only route to achieving a flawlessly “beat” face. Many other lines have an equally impressive rap sheet: countless years of satisfied customers, use in television and film, features at fashion week shows, etc. With these companies in mind, we’d like for you (just for one moment) to step out of M.A.C madness and consider some other great options. You never know, you just might find your next must-have makeup staple.
Here are 8 Lines You Should Try Out:
For those who prefer a sheer, natural-looking foundation with buildable coverage, Nars’ “Sheer Glow” is an excellent choice. It’s lightweight, dermatologist tested, non-comedogenic, and fragrance free. And, according to the brand, will actually improve the radiance and texture of the skin with continued use. Their shade offering is great too, but bear in mind that certain colors are best found online.
MUFE’s “Face and Body” makeup is another great lightweight liquid foundation. Its waterproof formula is ideal for all skin types, and has a natural satin finish that is said to last long throughout the day. It masks imperfections and fills out fine lines and enlarged pores without giving the appearance of cakey, overdone makeup. And, as a plus, it can also be used on the body for those of us who have discoloration or scars around the neck, chest, and other areas.
Iman Cosmetics is known for providing a full range of products specifically geared towards the needs of women of color. Her “Second to None” stick foundation is a nice cream to powder option that’s infused with jojoba and vitamins A, C, and E. The oil-free formula gives good coverage and keeps shine at bay (especially when set with a loose powder), leaving the skin silky and semi-matte.
*Note: Unfortunately, many stores use demographics to determine which product shades they keep stocked. So if you are unable to find your exact foundation match, fret not. Try another location, or even online, where you will likely have a wider range of color options.
Loreal really set themselves apart from fellow drugstore cosmetics brands when they introduced their HIP (High Intensity Pigment) collection. And as the name implies, their products are packed with vibrant color! Each eyeshadow duo is priced at roughly $8, and includes not only two complementary shades, but a mirror and reusable sponge applicator as well. If you’re feeling extra funky, try the electric blue “Showy” duo. And for a plum play on the classic smoky eye, try out “Sculpted”.
If you favor more neutral colors with just a hint of sheen (as opposed to full-on glittery shimmer), Lorac has you covered! The line features a broad range of colors each season that always includes beautiful browns, nudes, and the occasional pop of blue or purple. The formula is extremely smooth and blendable, which allows for easy application. For everyday wear, try “Serenity”—a gorgeous pink champagne. And for girl’s night out, rev things up with “Green Room”—a tempting teal green hue.
If you’re a fan of cream shadow formulas, you’ll love Shisedo’s “Hydro Powder”. The creamy, long-wearing colors can be applied with a slightly damp sponge or even fingertips. Wear them sheer, or build up the intensity—either way, they blend easily, last throughout the day, and resist creases or fading.
*Note: When it comes to eyeshadow, primer is your ride-or-die BFF. In order to ensure that you get the most true, vibrant, and long-lasting color, apply a product such as Too Faced Cosmetics’s “Eyeshadow insurance” first.
Maybelline has been receiving excellent feedback on their “Color Sensational” lip products. Each shade is packed with pure pigment and gives a crisp, smooth application. They’re easily accessible at any local Walmart, Target, Walgreens, etc. And with nearly 60 colors to choose from now, there’s something for everyone (but we hear that “Red Revival” is a sure winner!)
If you need a last minute lipcolor and don’t wanna spend the big bucks, NYX will hold ‘ya down every time. For a couple dollars you’re sure to get moisturizing long-lasting wear that has a nice velvety finish. And the shade options are ridiculous! Whether you want a nude pink, metallic gold, or bright orange—there’s a NYX lipstick for you.
Nars: You heard what Drake said—“Orgasm blush, lipstick, and concealer.” The fact that a rapper would be fully aware of the best-selling blush in stores nationwide proves that NARS hit the nail on the head with their cheek colors! They’re all smooth-wearing, highly-pigmented, and easy to apply. A little bit goes a longggg way with shades like the deep rose “Taos” and bright red-orange “Exhibit A”.
– Chelsea Smith