When we were wee young girls, it was hard to find validation for our natural, god-given tans. The telly and beauty mags were awash with pale-faced girls, salon ladies were always forcing us into bleach treatments, none of our Barbies were brown (not even the ‘Indian princesses’), and the fair girls in class always got the most cards on Valentine’s Day. Heck, even the fairy tales we read favoured the fairer princess.
Being dusky was a big don’t.
After years of fighting the darkness, it took one final day of sitting through the sensation of a hundred red ants crawling over me (#RestingBleachFace is the worst kind), to decide it wasn’t worth it anymore. I kicked the fairness packs, ghost-faced Instagram filters and one-shade-too-fair foundations. When the salon lady tried to push for her torture treatments, I told her to kiss my curry a**. And TBH? It felt damn good.
Unfortunately, unless your nickname is Piggy Chops, or you’ve just signed a Burberry campaign, there’s still a whole lot of people in our country that haven’t quite gotten over their colonial hangovers. Colourism has been so deeply ingrained in our culture, we sometimes don’t even realize we’re discriminating, and it’s even harder for dusky girls who are discriminating against themselves.
Sometimes, this discrimination comes in the form of skincare myths that might prevent us from taking proper care of our beautiful color. For one thing – just because you’re brown and brought up in a country that’s closer to the Equator, doesn’t mean you’re immune to sun damage. And just because we don’t take on the lobster-red hue we see on the foreigners who (for reasons unbeknownst to us) trek around the city in the peak of the afternoon, doesn’t mean our skin ain’t getting photo damaged. In fact, darker skin can be more prone to hyperpigmentation than others, so sunscreen, my ladies, is non-negotiable.
There’s pros to having duskier skin, too: you age slower. Wrinkles and creases take longer to take hold or show up thanks to the added amounts of melanin in our skin, which also works double-duty to protect us from sun-damage compared to fairer skin tones.
Aside from skincare, there’s other hurdles to overcome, like finding makeup that suits you or sits well on your skin. That gorgeous new blush is a no-show on your cheeks, or your favorite formulation of foundation doesn’t have a color that quite fits. Fortunately, brands are finally realizing that the dusky demographic is way too large to ignore, so we also have plenty more to pick from in terms of our beauty products. Fenty Beauty
boasts a whopping 40 shades of foundation, and closer to home, Maybelline New York
are as inclusive. As reasonably priced as they’re diverse are L.A Girl’s Pro Conceal HD concealers
or L’Oreal Paris’ True Match Foundation,
which comes in 23 shades.
The thing is, no matter the variety, we still tend to be conservative about what colors we’re “allowed” and not. Can’t wear pastels? Check out Deepika above totally slaying that cool-toned lip. Berry hues make you look darker? You just need to find one that’s right for your undertone. As per what’s tried and tested, we know dark peaches or warm pinks, burnt sienna and coral, rose gold and bronze shades look great on our skin. But whatever you’re working with, don’t be afraid to experiment. A lot of dusky girls think they can’t wear bright eyeshadow, red lipstick or colored liners when in fact our chocolatey canvases providing a stunning contrast for those kinds of colors. On the other hand, if you have subtler eyeshadows or lipsticks that don’t provide enough pop, all you need to do is use the old concealer hack (coat your lips and lids with a sheath of it before applying color) to bring out their true hues.
With fashion, beauty and cinema now celebrating diversity through a bevy of beautiful, dusky role models
(Browner Barbies, I see you too), there really isn’t any excuse to hold yourself back anymore.
Brown really is beautiful. To hell with anyone that tells you otherwise.