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Ethnic Cosmetics Fit New Beauty Paradigm

By: Sara Mason
Posted: December 12, 2008

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“We have an Asian flair to our catalog, whether in the naming of a product after an Asian icon or through the use of takeout boxes to remind us of the days working in our parent’s Chinese restaurant,” Yee says. Dedicated to creating quality makeup for women with yellow skin undertones, the sisters listen to customer’s needs and adapt them to fit current trends. “Stay focused; do not forget who your target customer is, and try not to be something for everyone,” Yee adds, noting her company’s name means “genuine” in Chinese.

Technical Concerns

Formula type and shade selection in ethnically focused cosmetics, such as Afterglow’s mineral powders, presents an interesting challenge in product development. The diversity of ethnic skin tones, combined with different skin types, increases this complexity. Because the industry is seeing an increased demand for more exotic shades, quality and concentration of pigment is a primary technical consideration. To ensure the highest quality and purity of the product, Afterglow takes a hard look at an ingredient’s level of refinement, as well as associated certificates for it, the reputation of its supplier, the origin of its manufacturer and the actual laboratory performance of the final pigment against those of other raw material suppliers.

“Women of all colors are moving toward more natural products that are free of many suspect ingredients,” says Kristin Adams, founder, Afterglow. “However, the richer the client’s skin tone, the more likely she is to place a premium on the quality and intensity of the pigment to achieve a finished look that compliments her beautiful, natural color.”

Black Radiance, which is expanding its retail exposure to include U.S. drug stores beginning in February 2009, specifically formulates its products to address the needs and attributes of black skin tones. “Our newest launches address the ethnic consumer’s need to find cosmetics that work with her skin tone,” says K. MacDonald Parris, senior brand manager, Black Radiance. The brand’s new Perfect Blend Mineral Foundation kits contain two coordinating shades of 100% mineral powder that can be custom-blended to match any skin tone. Black Radiance is also formulated without titanium dioxide, which appears ashy on black skin, making formulation for darker skin tones difficult.

For Colorescience, CEO Diane Ranger says it took 30 years of research and development for her brand to get it right. New high-tech versions of iron oxides allow her brand to bring better, stronger, clearer colors to the professional market without having to use traditional ingredients that can exacerbate skin conditions. The brand’s Global Corrector and Camouflage Corrector kits address neutralization rather than “covering up.” Adams concurs. “Ethnic shades have complex undertones and more intense pigments. However, at the end of the day, ethnic women want what every woman wants—cosmetics that will give her a beautiful, glowing complexion,” she says.

Substance and Color