There’s definitely a greater recognition in beauty these days that not all women are of European descent with blue eyes. Indeed, a lot of Americans don’t fit this ethnic profile at all. Latina and African-American women make up about 40% of the population that’s buying cosmetics in the 18-44 demographic in the US. So there’s obviously a need for products that suit a variety of skin tones.
Enter Black|Up, the questionably named yet undeniably luxurious cosmetics line aimed at women of color. Black|Up, a Paris-based brand that’s been around for 10 years, is now available in the US. I met with celeb makeup artist Mylah Morales (she’s worked with Rihanna) and Lionel Durand, the French founder of the brand, to get the scoop.
My first question was, “What’s with the name?” While I’m not a woman of color--unless pasty with blotchy pink undertones counts--the name makes me a bit squirmy. Lionel said women have embraced the name in his native France, though they did have a bit of resistance from retailers in the UK. He insisted the name is not inherently about skin color, but about the makeup.
So let’s talk about the makeup. They are aiming high with this brand, and want to be stocked next to the likes of Chanel at posh makeup counters. There aren’t really any brands that do high-end color for this group; Carol’s Daughter is primarily a skin care brand and Iman Cosmetics is a drugstore brand. So there’s definitely an unfilled niche. Right now Durand thinks that MAC is probably one of its biggest competitors here, mostly because of the huge range of foundation colors the Canadian brand offers.
The line is pigment-rich, contains a bit of sparkle, and focuses on mattifying products; Morales said oilier skin is often a complaint of darker-skinned women. There are powders and foundations in a variety of textures from powder foundations, creme-to-powder blends, and more traditional liquid foundations in 12 shades.
The waterproof smoky kohl eye pencils are a standout--the color is rich and it stays put. The lipsticks are absolutely gorgeous, in rich colors like berry, purple, and fuchsia. If you have no patience for soft washes of color and want shades that really pop, this is the brand for you.
While Black|Up isn’t carried by any US retailers yet, you can order on their website. Prices range from $17 for an eyeliner to $40+ for foundation and powders.