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An Investigation from our Panelist, Aina

I love makeup, so doing articles for Cosmetic Connection gives me a great excuse (as if I needed one!) to raid the drug and department stores for great cosmetic lines and shades for Women of Color. I grew up in the eighties, where the pickings were very slim as far as finding good makeup for Women of Color. Oh, how I hate to remember those days, walking around in bright mauve and purple lipstick, and what's worse, thinking I looked good in it! Things have come a long way since then.

These days, in my makeup drawer I love:

  • Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in "Raisin Rage", "Bali Brown" and "Chocolate Bar"
  • L'Oreal Rouge Virtual in "Expresso" and "Spice"
  • MAC lipstick in "Photo" and "Film Noir", and
  • Clinique lipstick in "Black Lily" and "Double Fudge"
I tend to go for the lower end brands of lipstick since I buy lipstick all the time and have to stick to a budget. I do indulge myself every now and then, buying Clinique, MAC and my most recent splurge, Christian Dior Diorific Plastic Shine in "Bold Brown".

I tend to stay away from the cosmetic lines specifically marketed for Women of Color. In the past, I have found these lines have foundations too red or orange for my complexion and lipstick colors that are too vivid (who says black women want to wear orange and fuschia lipstick)! That was a long time ago, and since I got this assignment, I decided to give Black Opal and Fashion Fair Cosmetics a look-see. Here's what happened...

My first mission was investigating Black Opal Cosmetics. This is a fairly new company with modern looking basic black packaging that didn't look half bad. Available in the line was their True Color Foundation - Oil Free in about 8 or nine shades running the gamut from lightest to darkest. Also available are a foundation stick, and a creme to powder compact all for $6 or $7 dollars, depending on where you buy it. Since this was a drug store, I really couldn't play with the colors like I wanted. The few foundations I did test were either one shade too light or one shade too dark for me. I did spend a lot of time looking at their True Tone Vitamin Rich lipsticks $4 or $5 Dollars. As I suspected, times haven't changed that much - here's a list of the nightmare shades I encountered:

  • "Eternal Flame"- A bright Orange (yikes!)
  • "Island Fuschia" - It's Electric!
  • "Fantasia" - an electric purple pink (Who is this supposed to look good on!)
  • "Zanzibery" - a bright cranberry shimmer (Why Why Why!!!)
Fortunately there were some new colors added to the line, and some nice neutrals scattered among the other shades.

  • "Creme de Cocoa" - A little too neutral for me. It made my face look washed out, but nice nonetheless.
  • "Cashmere Brown" - This was the Neutral for me. I'll pair it with a slightly darker brown lip liner and blend for a nice look.
  • "Bon Bon" - A great Expresso Coffee shimmer. I probably have five colors just like it at home. If I ever run out of those, I'll get this one.
  • "Goddess" - Pretty Burgundy/Brown shimmer. Not for me, but nice if you want an evening look.
  • "Ebony Wine" - Again I have colors just like this but a nice dramatic deep brown.
Also available is a line of 5 sheer lipsticks with SPF 15. That is a first - a cosmetic company for Women of Color that addresses sun protection. "Barely Wine" and "Barely Mocha" were among my faves. I'm not a fan of gold lipstick, but if I had to choose, I'd wear "Touch of Gold". Overall I thought this line was very nice. The prices are great and the color selection better than I anticipated. There is also a skincare line (one for men and one for women) that I'll have to take a closer look at. I give Black Opal 3.5 out of 5 stars.

My next stop was Macy's where the Fashion Fair counter was. (I stopped by the Flori Robert's counter, but the counter person was so uninterested in helping me, I decided to wait for another day - when she isn't there). You could see the counter from a mile away. Everything was pink! It was already turning me off, but I swallowed my pre-conceived notions and gave it a chance. The woman at Fashion Fair was very helpful. She was wearing a foundation that looked very heavy and a little too orange for her skin (strike two). She was a bit busy, but took care of me as soon as she was free.

While waiting, I took a look at the lipsticks ($10.50). Now I could play, but unfortunately, I had to play with colors like "Fiery Fuschia", "Reggae Red" and "Ole Orange". There were some nice browns and even a copper that looked nice on me, but they seemed like afterthoughts to their established standards of bright purples, oranges and classic reds. They did have a line of Forever Matte lipsticks ($12.50) that was only slightly better in color selection. They weren't too drying either. The counter person tried an Oil free liquid makeup ($17.75) on my face in "Honey Amber". I have to say it matched my skin very well and felt pretty nice. I'm not a big foundation person, but I am getting married soon and will need a good foundation for wedding photos. This will be on my list. I would have bought it, but I already have a bottle of my favorite Prescriptives Virtual Skin in "Real Antelope". Also available was an Oil Free Perfect Finish Soufflé ($22.73) and a Perfect Finish Creme to Powder foundation ($21.65). Fashion Fair also has a skin care line, but I wasn't that interested in taking home those big bright bottles. All in all, the line was not great, but better than I expected. I give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.

I will be looking at these and other lines more closely, investigating eye and blush colors. As long as they keep making the stuff, I'll be around to check it out.



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