May 21, 2024


Youth trendy style

Makeup for BAME Women & Affordable Beauty Brands

The feeling is indescribable. It is almost orgasmic. Is this beauty brand too good to be true?

The sponge must be damp, not wet.

The smooth, creamy foundation perfectly blends in with the sun-kissed skin of an ethnic woman.

She has found the one.

Only some have been lucky enough to experience this feeling of euphoria.

BAME women spend years experimenting, searching high and low.

They have had to create an unforgivable dent in their bank accounts until they find the perfect foundation shade.

They have been deserted by the beauty industry left to mask their melanin skin with white powder.

The History of Makeup for ‘BAME’ Women

Makeup for BAME Women & Affordable Beauty Brands

The earliest record of makeup does not come from France or the USA, but from the 1st Dynasty of Egypt.

Historians have discovered that the Egyptians used cosmetics primarily for health, using creams to soften skin and protect from sunburn.

Egyptian women would apply a mixture of dark blue and green colours to their eyes.

‘Kohl’ would be used to darken their upper lid, creating the first Smokey eye look.

Fast forward to the ’90s where celebrities like Naomi Campbell would sport neutral eye looks.

For example, MUAs would use taupe and olive-toned eyeshadows to create a seductive refreshing look.

The supermodel would also opt for a darker lip, including a deep, plum or brown shade, which complimented her radiant skin. This trend has now made a comeback.

Beauty gurus now use the combination of a brown lip liner and clear gloss, with warm, bronze eye colours, to recreate this iconic ’90s look.

Recent Cosmetic Controversy – Foundation Names

It is no conspiracy that western beauty brands have historically neglected the needs of women with melanin.

For people with fair complexions, the opportunity to find their shade with ease has always been accessible.

Whereas people with darker complexions have spent years losing money testing a multitude of products often with no reward.

In 2010, it was common to see these four foundation shade names:

It was also likely to see an abundance of shades for ‘Fair’ and ‘Light’ products, and not even two for ‘Medium’ and ‘Dark.’

Makeup cannot be defined by just one colour. There is a science behind finding the right shade. There is a range of undertones and pigmentations all over the face, which ‘Medium’ cannot fully cover.

In 2021 there is now more shade range for women of colour, but discriminatory and micro-aggressive attitudes still lie within the names of these products.

For example, many companies name their deep-toned foundations after food and objects.

Across social media, many have argued that beauty brands dehumanise and fetishise women of colour.

Whilst shades for white women are called ‘ivory’, ‘pure’, and ‘porcelain’. Brown and Black women are labelled ‘coffee’, ‘dark chocolate’, and varying shades of wood.

Affordable and Diverse Beauty Brands

Following years of negative reviews and complaints from BAME women, companies could not continue as they were.

New and old cosmetic companies have begun developing products that cater to different skin tones.

After researching both ethical, and cost-effective makeup brands, DESIblitz has compiled a list of 5 amazing cosmetic companies and beauty products that celebrate diversity.


NYX products have always been celebrated online for suiting the needs of ‘BAME’ women. They have an incredible foundation shade range, which provides full coverage.

Additionally, their ‘Liquid Suede Cream‘ lipsticks come in 24 luxurious colours and are very pigmented.

The striking ‘Cherry Skies’ creates a classic red lip and flawlessly sets into a stunning matte finish.

NYX doesn’t stop at foundation and lipstick. There are a plethora of products suited to pigmented skin.

DESIblitz’s favourite NYX products:

Matte Body Bronzer (£8.00)

Wonder Stick Contour (£11.00)

Radiant Finish Setting Spray (£8.00)


e.l.f is one of the cheapest cosmetic ‘drug store’ brands.

They are known to follow popular makeup trends, whilst sticking to their core cosmetic knowledge.

e.l.f continues to produce high-quality products catering to all skin tones and types.

The vegan and cruelty-free highlighter, comes in the shade Moonlight Pearl, creating a luminous glow with a soft wash of glitter.

DESIblitz’s favourite e.l.f products:

Flawless Finish Foundation (£7.50)

Baked Highlighter (£5.00)

Contour Palette (£8.00)

EX1 Cosmetics

Makeup for BAME Women & Affordable Beauty Brands - ex1

EX1 Cosmetics offers a diverse shade range catering specifically to people with olive-toned to deep skin tones.

They primarily focus on undertones, ensuring that the foundation works perfectly for ethnic women.

Their iconic blusher comes in two shades, ‘Natural Flush’ and ‘Jet Set Glow’.

These pigmented shades show up beautifully on deep-toned skins, and a light application can create a natural glow or a bold, vibrant look.

Not only are their products innovative, but they are also very affordable.

DESIblitz’s favourite EX1 products:

Invisiwear Liquid Foundation (£12.50)

Blusher (£9.50)

Pure Crushed Mineral Foundation (13.00)


Revolution is known for recreating high-end brand products to be inexpensive and accessible.

Starting as a small UK based cosmetic company, it soon became a global phenomenon.

Revolution’s ‘Conceal and Define Concealer’ is a perfect dupe for Tarte’s ‘Shape Tape Concealer’.

Their shade range offers coverage and inclusive shades, matching the different undertones of all women.

DESIblitz’s favourite Revolution products:

Conceal and Define Supersize Concealer (£7.00)

Makeup Revolution Reloaded Highlighter (£4.00)

Satin Kiss Lipliner (3.99)

Fenty Beauty

In 2017 Grammy Award-winning artist Rihanna announced her new makeup line, Fenty Beauty.

Rihanna described Fenty Beauty as, “The New Generation of Beauty”.

The music mogul changed the beauty industry for good.

Fenty Beauty launched with its beautiful Pro-Filter Foundation and came in 40 shades.

It finally gave ethnic women a chance to experiment with a range of products that perfectly matched their skin.

Compared to other western beauty brands, Rihanna dedicated Fenty Beauty’s first campaign video to BAME women and men.

Halima Aden, the fierce Somali-American and the first hijab-wearing model to make it to the runway was also featured.

DESIblitz’s favourite Fenty Beauty products:

PRO FILT’R Soft Matte Longwear Foundation (£27.00)

Match Stix Trio (£46.00)

Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter (£26.00)

Brand Reviews

Munpreet Kaur, 25.

“A lot of brands have attempted to reinvent their ethos in regards to their extensiveness in shade range.

“I would not choose to buy from brands who have only just created diverse products.

“It is not good enough.

“Fenty Beauty products are revolutionary for ethnic women.

“My favourite beauty product is the Fenty Beauty ‘Match Stix Matte’ in the shade Bamboo and the Fenty Beauty ‘Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminiser’.”

Kiran Aujla, 21.

“The beauty industry has failed women of colour.

“The typical ‘beauty’ standard follows Eurocentric features, and it is obvious when companies photoshop women of colour on Instagram.

“My go-to product is powder. I use Revolution’s ‘Loose Banana Baking Setting Powder’, and I cannot live without it!

“It took me a while to find a shade close to my skin tone, but since doing so, I haven’t looked back!”

Meera Chahal, 21.

“I think companies are trying to be more diverse, but a lot of them have two deep shades, two medium and the rest is light colours.

“They need to do better.”

“Fenty have a good shade range, and my favourite product is the concealer.”

Keirah Chuck, 21.

“Not every black person has the same skin tone, and I have always had to mix shades.

“But now there is a lot more progress, with black people becoming beauty gurus and building makeup businesses.

“Also, I see more beauty brands using black models. It is becoming more diverse, and I appreciate that.”

Simran Chonk, 20.

“I think the beauty industry is versatile, and there is something for everyone.

“But only a few brands cater to women of colour.

“My favourite brands are Fenty, EX1, e.l.f, Revolution.”

For some, this issue might seem insignificant, but for women of colour, this can affect how they feel about their ethnicity and skin tone.

The beauty industry must rise above its internalised adherence to idealised western aesthetics.

The belief that fair skin is more attractive than dark skin, is outdated and wrong.

Thankfully, in 2021 there are now more ethical and affordable beauty brands than there has ever been.

In supporting these beauty brands, it is making a stand that BAME women refuse to be forgotten and that every colour, shade, and tone is beautiful.