If you had a dime for every time some well-meaning friend, family member, or beauty-counter employee told you they were going to help, “give you a little more color,” (likely with a mismatched foundation shade), would you have enough money to buy an Urban Decay Vault?
I’m not surprised.
The US, for a while, had an obsession with warm, medium, bronze-y skin. It’s why the self-tanner industry, to which I contribute, is comically massive. It’s why tanning beds, which are horrifically bad for your long-term health, are so damn popular in spite of the well documented and shared risks. I’ve said before that I think I am flattered more by my skin in its tan-ish state – but I don’t know if that’s a sincerely held thought or if it’s influenced by the society in which I live. Perhaps a bit of both, but I can’t truly ever know.
We all know what ultra-fair skintones accepting being, ‘given a little more color’ can end up as – a complexion that looks orange, dirty, or just flat-out too tan. None of those looks do favors for anyone! I’m not discouraging you, if you do want a little more color, from seeking it – but there’s a way to do it. and buying NC35 when you’re NW10 is not it. And if you don’t speak MAC, this photo of swatches that Soundly Sensible Beauty shared will clear it up for you:
I find that this sort of thing comes from friends who have been influenced by, “gurus.” While YouTube beauty gurus can often produce makeup that suits them, many of them are not makeup artists. Many of them are not familiar with color theory, or working on face shapes or features dissimilar to their own.
It isn’t uncommon to see the selection of a shade too dark or tan for them. Just say no.
If you’re a beauty salesperson, you should assume your customer wants something matches them unless they say express a desire for a little more color.
Shopping for foundation is, in itself, is an agonizing process. If your salesperson is trying to push you into an obviously too dark shade because, “but don’t you want a little more color to warm you up?” you do not have to accept.
In most cases (not all, of course) I’ve witnessed, they mean well – they assume everyone endeavors to fit into that popular aesthetic. This is either because a) that aesthetic appeals to them or 2) a ton of their clientele requests it. If they make this assumption, politely decline and tell them something like, “This one isn’t for me. I am looking to match my skin tone and don’t want to modify it.”
- Apologize for your skintone. (Folks of color, this overall topic may not mean as much for you – but this single point does. Your skin is not an inconvenience for which you should apologize!)
- Apologize for declining a sale of a clearly wrong product – even if your salesperson is sweet as can be and seems to have the best of intentions.
- Accept continuous suggestions of ‘warm you up’ shades after you have clarified your purpose.
- Buy something that looks wrong!
It isn’t your responsibility to make a salesperson happy or feel validated. You are a customer, you are paying for products and services. Full stop.
The Bottom Line
Instagram isn’t real life. If you prefer foundation that doesn’t match your skin, more power to you. I’m not arguing with your personal choices, but I am saying that not everyone needs to mimic them. Let our fair-skinned friends embrace their skin.