The new nude: Fashion, beauty brands expand options for diverse skin tones
June 27, 2016 12:00 AM
Courtesy of Christian Louboutin
Christian Louboutin's Nudes collection has expanded to include ballet flats in a range of shades to cater to diverse skin tones.
Courtesy of Neutrogena
Neutrogena recently added more more foundation options to its Healthy Skin liquid makeup line to help women find a better match for their skin tone.
Courtesy of Covergirl
Covergirl's Queen collection includes everything from foundation to lipsticks, designed with women of color in mind.
Courtesy of Hanes
Hanes' Silky Reflections Silky Sheer hosiery line strives to match every complexion with shades that range from pearl to barely black.
By Sara Bauknecht / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In the worlds of fashion and beauty, there’s little that’s natural about the color nude.
Pantone depicts it as a pale pink-ish hue. Meanwhile, what’s considered flesh-colored by one designer might be champagne, porcelain or mocha to another.
That’s long been the dilemma, and the frustration, for consumers: skin-inspired hues that are marketed as universal actually can be pretty limiting. But that’s starting to change, thanks to more brands expanding their definitions of nude to include new options for skin tones across the spectrum.
Take Christian Louboutin, the famed French luxury designer whose shoes are synonymous with red-lacquered soles. When he debuted his Nudes collection in 2013, it only included heels in a few shades of beige. A team member’s remark that beige isn’t the color of her skin prompted him to diversify the collection, which now includes seven shades from fair to dark. This spring, ballet flats were added to the mix.
“I have clients from every continent and want to make them happy,” the designer said in a statement. The Nudes are now among the brand’s best sellers.
The Nudes collection now includes ballet flats in seven shades from fair to dark. (Courtesy of Christian Louboutin)
The dancewear/shoe brand Bloch, which also designs fashion footwear, announced earlier this year that it’s at work with Royal Ballet artist Eric Underwood to develop a ballet shoe that’s a better match for dancers of color. Last summer, he posted on Instagram a video of him pancaking his shoes with makeup, as he put it, to make them a better match for his dark skin, a process that needs to be repeated as the makeup rubs off.
“If you create more than one flesh tone I’ll love you forever,” he wrote in the post, tagging Bloch and a couple other dance suppliers.
A video posted by ericunderwood (@ericunderwood) on Jul 19, 2015 at 3:04am PDT
Beyond shoes, product lines from legwear to lipstick are catering to more complexions. Hanes Hosiery, for instance, has hues from pearl to barely black. Lines such as its Silk Reflections Silky Sheer pantyhose are designed to look so seamless that it’s tough to tell if someone is wearing tights or not. London-based Nubian Skin, a hosiery and lingerie line made for women of color, is gaining traction in the United States and is carried at some Nordstrom locations.
On the beauty front, Fashion Fair cosmetics is credited for pioneering more makeup options for African American women. Johnson Publishing — the publishing house once behind such black media publications as Ebony and Jet magazines and the traveling designer Ebony Fashion Fair roadshow -— launched the line in the 1970s after the late Eunice W. Johnson noticed models mixing their own makeup colors when they couldn’t find ones for their skin. It’s still an in-demand cosmetics brand that’s sold at select Macy’s, Dillards and Bealls department stores.
Since then, several other brands have followed suit. Covergirl’s Queen collection includes lip colors, concealers, mascaras, powders, eye shadows and liners, balms and more created to complement dark skin. In April, Neutrogena teamed with actress Kerry Washington to help promote the new shades added to its Healthy Skin liquid makeup collection: honey, caramel, cocoa and chestnut. Black Opal Beauty, Make Up Forever, Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown and MAC cosmetics are among the other lines that have made strides in inclusivity.
Another trend to watch is makeup color adjustors, says Pittsburgh-based licensed esthetician Liz Quesnelle. At her cosmetics store The Gilded Girl Beauty Emporium in Lawrenceville, brands such as the Canadian-made FACE Atelier offer add-ins that can be combined with foundation to make it darker or lighter.
“It’s not a one-color-fits-all world,” she says. “It’s been refreshing to see this push to provide makeup for all people.”
Sara Bauknecht: email@example.com or on Twitter and Instagram @SaraB_PG.
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