#BizTalk – Nykhor Paul and the Beauty Biz

makeup to go blog nykhor paul instagram

Screencap from the Instagram of model Nykhor Paul

If you read beauty/fashion articles and blogs, by now you’ve no doubt read about model Nykhor Paul putting the entire fashion/beauty industry on blast on Instagram. If you haven’t, you can check it here (be forewarned- she pulls no punches in expressing her feelings).

Basically she is upset that as a professional model working at the highest levels, she is not being accommodated in the same way her fairer complexioned peers are with regards to her makeup.

I am not quite as ebony as Nykhor – who is that gorgeous Sudanese true blue black – but as African-American skintones go I am on the deeper end of the scale. Therefore my initial, visceral reaction to her post was a fist pump in the air, Black Power fist Afro-pick in hair, HELLZ YEAH! But as I thought about her post, I realized this issue does not all lie at the feet of makeup artists.


One sure fire thing that never fails to wrankle my feathers is going into an online makeup group and seeing someone ask “How do I do makeup on dark skin?” Or “Where do I find makeup for dark skin?”. Really? In America in 2015? Let’s just say an artist lives in an area where there really is not a lot of diversity and so they’ve never worked on African American skin. I thought you said you were a professional artist? Use your Color Theory skills and get to work. I fail to have sympathy for anyone who uses this tired, lame excuse of an excuse. And as for “Where do I find makeup for dark skin?”


There are brands that make and have always made colors for deeper complexions (MUFE, NARS, etc) and the pro/theatrical brands (Graftobian, Ben Nye, William Tuttle, etc.) have always had deep colors. Heck, Bobbi Brown started her brand in part because when she did Naomi Campbell for the first time for the cover of Vogue magazine, she accidentally made Naomi gray because she did not have the right color selection. And Lupita Nyong’o is the current spokesmodel for Lancôme. Therefore, it’s not true to say that these colors simply do not exist, and it is silly for people to try to use the excuse that they do not know where to find them. Hello? Bobbi Brown and Lancôme. Not too hard to find.

All this said, however, by-and-large the mass-market cosmetic brands of the world have been shockingly slow about adding full color range.


Yes BUT here comes the rub: Ms. Paul was referring to her experiences backstage at various Fashion Week shows. Well, Fashion Week shows are overwhelmingly sponsored backstage by various cosmetics companies. When a show is sponsored, the artists are expected to use ONLY that cosmetics brand. Thus, if a Show is sponsored by a brand that does not have a full color range, because many brands still do not make a full color range, and yet the artists are expected to use only that line…

Many artists likely use this as their reasoning as to why they do not have certain colors, and that’s probably what Ms. Paul was referring to; the artist should at least try. I know a number of diligent artists who try to work around this problem by bringing in other product and taping over the name, but some sponsors do not really like that either. Sometimes an artist has to literally sneak product out of their bag right quick and then quickly put it back. Whose fault is that? Why aren’t these cosmetics companies making a full color range in 2015? And if Fashion Week is a trade show – which it is – why are they having shows sponsored by consumer lines that do not provide the artists with adequate product to complete the job?


Something about this definitely speaks to an attitude regarding Beauty and what is beautiful. Models of color – and not just Black models – are still too often left out of the party, even when there is a definite “ethnic” theme to the Show. And when models of color are cast, there are often only one or two in a Show. There seems to still be a novelty element to casting models of color. Throughout the industry as a whole, there still seems to be a lingering afterthought attitude. White models are still “the norm”, and models of color are still an afterthought. If we don’t have colors for some of the models, eh, we’ll work something out…

Contrast this to a video I saw a number of years back about a Kenyan news reporter who moved to and was working in China. The story was not about her makeup but they happened to video her while she was getting her makeup done. I remember noticing and remarking to myself that the Chinese makeup artist had absolutely zero problem whatsoever doing her makeup. He had the product and the skill to service his client and he did his job, end of story. I think it’s safe to say that we have more Black people here in America than they do over in China. But yet…


Concerned parties – artists, models, and consumers – need to be more vocal with the cosmetics brands about adding these colors. Corporate sponsors in fashion is not going anywhere, so the sponsoring brands just need to stop playing and carry a full and diverse array of colors. As a pro artist I would NEVER put a cosmetics brand on negative public blast because we are partners with cosmetics lines and we need to maintain positive relationships. However some gentle nudging never hurt anyone ;). As I mentioned in my last post, I recently told one of my fave lines that they needed to keep their foundations for people of color and I was informed that those colors are in fact returning. This likely means that they got a lot of feedback regarding the popularity of those colors. Cosmetics companies do listen, particularly in the form of positive reinforcement such as “Hey I really love your brand, I’d love it if you added XYZ”. Trust me: the Lancôme of the Lupita Nyong’o era is not at all the same Lancôme of my youth. Cosmetics companies can and will change, its just a matter of getting them to hurry up.

And to you lazy artists out there who are still employing various excuses of why you cannot do, or do not have appropriate makeup for, clients of color, please do us all a favor and either step ya game up or step out the game.

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#MakeupMonday on Tuesday – Dark Lip Color

© C. Nearburg dark lip color

© C. Nearburg/Makeup - Tania D. Russell/Hair - Dannielle Clemens

Howdy all. Hope all my folks in the US enjoyed a fabulous Labor Day weekend. I took the weekend off from any and all work related activities, hence we are having MakeupMonday on Tuesday 🙂

So dark lip color… I have avoided writing about this because I had hoped the trend would go away at some point but alas it has not. It is not that I am against dark, bold lips – as you can see in the above photo I shot a look with it – it’s more that this trend does not always translate from the runways and magazine pages successfully into real life. However, I have seen more wearable more flattering incarnations come about in recent months. As it is doubtful that this trend will be leaving before the onset of fall and winter when most women tend to wear more lip color anyway, and most lines are adding dark lip colors to their fall collections, here are some of my choices for great dark lip colors as well as tips for wearing them successfully.

When wearing dark colors it is important not to lose balance because it is easy for the look to either come off as a Goth stereotype or become clowntastic. In addition, it is important to find a color that is still flattering to your skin tone – particularly if you are fair – because you don’t want the dark color to drain your natural face coloring and make you look dead. You want high impact and fashion forward, not camp. For this reason, I suggest you leave straight up Black off the menu. Black should only be worn by the most experienced of makeup mavens, and even then in the right situations, of which there aren’t many. You will have a much higher probability of success by sticking to blood reds, purples, burgundies, browns and mixes thereof for your dark lip looks. As far as the actual application of the color, I recommend you;

– Exfoliate your lips using a soft toothbrush or washcloth and then apply lip moisturizer and let it sink in.

– If you’re wearing a lipstick, take a dab of your normal foundation or concealer and blot over lips to block out your natural lip color. This will assure a more even application of the lip color which is important when you’re wearing dark colors, and it will make you lip color last longer. I’ve read some folks suggest using makeup primer on your lips, but as your lips don’t make their own natural moisture, it could make your lip line look dry and puckery like premature lip wrinkles. Skip this step if you’re wearing a lip-gloss as the foundation would still be visible through the gloss and it would look funky.

– Use a lip liner to draw a defined line – it is very important that this look not look sloppily applied. If wearing a sheer formulation, you can give it a bit of oomph and make it last longer by using the lip liner all over the lips and then applying gloss over. When I’m using a lip liner I either use a color that matches the lip color I plan to use or if I don’t have a good match I’ll use a color the same shade as my clients lips. Either will help me draw a precise lip line without showing visible liner.

– USE A LIP BRUSH to apply your color. It will go on much more evenly. Yes, use a lip brush even if you’re using a gloss lip color. This is dramatic look and you’ll want to do it right. Now is not the time for a slap-dash application job.

Now that you’ve got your technique down-pat, here are some great products to try;


Clinique Almost Lipstick – Black Honey
This product is a classic and has been around forever. This formulation will give you a just bitten look like you’ve eaten some fresh blackberries. Very very pretty.

Urban Decay Lipstick – Apocalypse, and Oil Slick
Despite the names, these colors are all quite wearable due to their formulation as both are sheer and glossy. Apocalypse is a great deep Blackberry and Oil Slick – not for the faint of makeup – is a sheer, sparkly black. It can be worn alone, but its real strength is in combination with other colors to add depth and make them more dramatic.

Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Sheer Color Gloss (Limited Edition) – Black Chocolate
The Bobbi Brown line is all about wearable color, and this fab gloss is no exception. Black Chocolate is a rich velvety brown-y plum in a sheer formulation suitable for wear day or night.

Scott Barnes Flossy Glossy – Black Currant
If you aren’t familiar, Scott Barnes glosses are fab. They can be worn sheer or full coverage, and offer great color and shine without being sticky or gloopy.

Urban Decay – Confession – Lipstick
Another great Urban Decay lip color, Confession is a deep berry with a semi sheer finish. Great if you want more color but aren’t yet ready to commit to full coverage.

Full Coverage

Posner Lipstick – Violet Explosion and Fine Wine
Never heard of Posner? Well, that’s because Posner has always been kind of an “indie” line, but they’ve actually been around since forever. Posner Cosmetics was one of the first brands to provide makeup for black skin tones, including deeper complexions (a lot of “mainstream” lines will have one or two “dark” shades that are still too light for deeper black skin tones). As I’ve stated before, the black cosmetic lines are often goldmines for rich colors because product for black skin needs a lot of pigmentation in order for it to show. These are full coverage lipsticks with a smooth, satiny finish. Truth be told – these colors are staples in my kit.

Revlon Lipsticks – Grape (Color Burst), Wine Not (Matte) & VaVa Violet and CoCo Licious (Super Lustrous)
Another winner on the drugstore end of the spectrum is Revlon. Revlon lipsticks are seriously excellent and most artists I know have a few as part of their kit. Revlon is awesome because they just have So. Many. Colors. and they also have an impressive array of textures and finishes. In addition they feel good, they wear well, and they don’t change colors.

Inglot Cosmetics Lipstick – 175 & 267
Inglot is a makeup artists’ cult line. After manufacturing for other companies for years, Inglot – which originated in Poland – finally started their own amazing signature line. Inglot products are known for their high pigmentation; therefore their products are no joke. I love the entire product line, but I particularly love the lipsticks. 175 is a deep rich aubergine color and 267 is a velvety black. Yes, black. It can be worn straight HOWEVER, it is best used as a mixer with other colors to make them deeper and richer. This is just the tip of the Inglot iceberg as they have more amazing colors and formulations than I can cover in such a short write up. Look for a full article on Inglot soon.

Scott Barnes Lip Suede – Veronica, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Lip Color – Black Maple & Black Raspberry
These are the companion lipsticks to the lip-glosses from these two brands that I mentioned above. Scott Barnes’ ‘Veronica’ is a deep mauve-y brown. Bobbi Brown’s ‘Black Maple’ is a black red plum and ‘Black Raspberry’ is a black burgundy. All three colors are rich and beautiful on their own, or you can kick them up a notch by combining with their companion glosses.

inglot cosmetics lipstick dark lip color

Inglot Cosmetics Lipstick #175

#MakeupMonday – Best Blushes for Darker Toned Beauties

Iman Cosmetics Blushes in Peace and Allure

Iman Cosmetics Blushes in Peace and Allure

I did a job recently where I had to do makeup on an African American female model who was about Phylicia Rashād’s (mom Huxtable from ‘The Cosby Show’) complexion. Both Phylicia and this model are a rich brown color, but still more fair than myself. To my dismay, I did NOT have a blush that really, really worked on her. Well, I had one, but it’s shimmery and I needed matte/satin products for this shoot (pharmaceutical ad). When searching for colors for darker skin tones either for yourself or for your kit, the issue isn’t needing a darker color necessarily (although that’s obviously sometimes the case), the issue is needing higher pigmentation. You’re dealing with skin that already has it’s own measure of pigmentation so in order for color to show it needs to have a measure of potency. This led me to search for blushes for darker complexions, and let me tell you – it was a search. I thought I’d find some info online since there are always so many “Best Of” lists – nope. Searched some magazines – nope. I had to pull out the Do It Yourself kit and actually get in the car and hit the pavement to find the best blushes for darker toned beauties. Here’s what I found;

Three Custom Color – 3CC, if you aren’t familiar, is a makeup artists’ brand. It was founded by two working makeup artists and I don’t know any makeup artists who don’t have at least one of their products in their kit. I start with them because they have too many beautiful colors to even name. Seriously, depending on your skin tone or the skin tone of your client you WILL find a perfect shade for you in this line. They have two formulations, the very sheer Watercolours for Cheeks and the Cream to Powder blushes. I’m pretty sure folks in NYC can visit their Studio to purchase in person, the rest of us can order online.

Il Makiage – Another “underground” brand founded by a makeup artist with a massive makeup artist following, Il Makiage has weathered a few storms over the last few years and I’m glad to see they are still alive and kicking. They also have a multitude of beautiful colors for all skin tones. My favorites for the more richly hued beauties are;
2191 Mountain Beach (dusty coral), 2188 Indian Coral (rich coral), 2171 Bird of Paradise (rich terracotta), 2190 Mocha (pinky brown), 2208 Toucan (rich dusty rose), 2179 Current (serious pink… looks like too much but beautiful color on the skin), and my two favorites 2169 Aubergine (true Aubergine), and 2196 Raspberry

“But Tania, I don’t have time to try to track down these exotic pro brands”… I understand. Here’s the best of the mainstream;

Bobbi BrownPoppy (Deep Red), Cranberry (Deep Brownish Red), and the Pot Rouge cream blush in Chocolate Cherry.

Lancome – Yep, Lancome. They make a couple of great cream blushes that I use pretty often now. Chic Cassis (rich Plum/Aubergine color) and Retro Rogue (rich Currant-y red).

Nars – their selection of powder blushes isn’t great for darker tones but they have two amazing creme blushes; Turkish Red (coral red), and the mighty Montenegro (a rich, beautiful Mahagony).

Many of the organic/naturally derived brands have been slow in developing colors for all shades of people, however Korres has stepped up to the plate with two great blushes; 32- Purple Brown, and 22 – Purple. Both lean more towards a plum-y hue, and both are very pretty and wearable.

Last but not least for you Drugstore Divas, there are a few good options available in mass-market retailers

NYX – Other things in the line I would not be able to recommend, but their blushes are actually quite good. The blushes I’ve used are well pigmented and last for a good while. My color selects are Powders: Desert Rose (rosey pink), Cocoa (pinky brown), Copper and Pecan (brown with a reddish tinge) and Cream: Diva a dark, rich red with brown undertones.

Iman – Now available at select Targets and JCPenny, Iman gives you department store brand quality in a mass market store at a mass market price (about $11 each for the blushes). All four are great Peace (Plum), Sable (red tinged Brown), Allure (duo of Plum-y blush and a highlighter), and Posh (duo of a rose-y pink blush and a highlighter). There’s also a color on the website that I didn’t see in the store called Sunlit Copper. I already had a lot of Iman products in my kit, so during the shoot when I needed better blushes I bought Peace and Sable and I was good to go.