REALITY CHECK: WHAT DO YOU WANT US TO KNOW?

We are at a crossroads in our society — one that is long overdue — and addressing the single most important area of social justice our country has struggled with since its birth. As far as we may have come in some people’s eyes, the truth is that, while we been moving forward slowly, we continue to also take steps backward in this fight.

The beauty industry, and makeup artist industry in particular, may be making an effort in many cases, but is it enough? Is that effort focused on the right things? Our  perspectives are irrelevant if we are not walking in the shoes, and the skin, of our Black brothers and sisters in beauty.

We wanted to understand, from the Black makeup artist community themselves, what we can do better as an industry. We want to understand what we don’t know about the Black experience as a makeup artist. So we ask simply — What do you want us to know?
Words: Michael DeVellis

Beauty brands, please hire Black makeup qrtists and experts to consult when creating products for black skin. It is important that to have experts in this area to guide you in
product development so that the products actually represent who you are selling to.  Adeola Gboyega

All we want is the same respect and consideration as other artists — to not have to work twice as hard to be thought of as half as good. Aina Lee

For years we, Black creative artists, lived in the shadows of the industry and now as our color is being celebrated its time to highlight its true essence. AJ Cimson

Judging a book by its cover will only take you so far. Allegra Layton

We have value, relevance, and influence. Amber Rouzan

Never be afraid to use your voice. April Chaney

The M.A.K.E.U.P industry should stand for: Multi-culturalism + Accountability + Kindness + Equality + Unity + Purpose. Asha Smith

Equality means including Black creatives on the sets, behind the camera, on the glam squads, within the racks of fashion, with casting of models, the journalist that tell the stories and editors that tell us their favorite new products. Ashunta Sheriff

On average we tend to excel with complexions similar to our own but if you can’t serve every tone, you’re not a PRO makeup artist…period. Auralis Flores

Hire us not because we fill your diversity quota backstage or on set, but because we are qualified and our portfolio speaks for itself. Bamike Ogunrinu

My complexion does not define the makeup I can do, the diversity of my work does. #allracesandgendersportfolio Belinda Campbell

True change is not simply awareness of the need, it takes a conscious effort from all directions. Bethany Townes 

I’ve worked in the beauty business for 20 years and the idea that Blackness is other or exotic has not changed Bradford Knight

Diversity in our industry cannot be turned on and off. Bridgit Crider

It’s simple, treat people like you want to be treated. You want to be judged by your skill, talent, knowledge, hard work as well as the sweat and tears it took you to hone your makeup artist skills instead of your skin color. Candace Corey

We have a copious amount of knowledge and expertise in this industry and we want equal opportunities to utilize our talents to uplift, educate, diversify and truly unite our industry. Carla Van Nessa Wallace

We are here, we have always been here, and we aren’t going anywhere. We are more than just our skin tone — we are magic! Carmilla Cunny

As we usher in a new generation of makeup artists, we have a professional responsibility to insist upon quality training, equal and fair treatment, respect to and from all those we encounter, and an obligation to advance our talents in guaranteeing excellence in the makeup industry. Carol Rasheed

Now that you’ve been awakened — Stay Woke! Cassandra Ward

Our exposure to beauty is much deeper than what’s being displayed on retail shelves and respresented on executive boards. Christian Joseph

My skin is brown and rich but I’m human just like you and the ones you love. Cool Benson

It’s paramount that we all understand that diversity and inclusion matters. It is not a trend and it’s important that all hair and makeup artists get well acquainted with all
complexions and hair textures of all talent. D’Angelo Thompson

You gotta know how dope you are without validation, celebration, or congratulations Damone Roberts

It’s demoralizing to be ignored and disregarded but still asked for sales by brands. Danessa Myricks

In recent years I’ve seen positive change in Hollywood and that’s a beautiful thing. Deborah Huss Humphries

If department heads that are not black, are working on black projects, they need to diversify more within their department. Debra Denson

We are bold and creative geniuses that far exceed the color of our skin. Dee Rouzan

As a Black makeup artist, my education and skills never seem to be enough in an industry that does not always see me. Denise Tunnell

As a professional makeup artist of color, I have to show up well prepared for it all because my palette of clients has garnered the entire spectrum and so have their
complexions. Whereas my mainstream counterparts may know very little on how to properly makeup deeper skin tones and it shows up on film each and every time. Derrick Rutledge

I often wonder why Black artist and creatives, who can work on all races and ethnicities, are not afforded the same gigs and opportunities of white artists who are limited in their skills? DeShawn Hatcher

Being passionate doesn’t mean that we are aggressive, and being aggressive doesn’t mean that we are dangerous. Desiree’ Stovall

Your silence is our betrayal, The moment you stand out is when you help yourself understand how to help us. Dominique Rochelle Petty

There is power in consistency. Stay true to whose you are and who you are. Ebony Parson

Double standards are problematic in the industry. As a makeup artist who is Black, rightfully I am expected to have mastery when working on all skin tones. But too often I’ve witnessed white and other non-Black makeup artists, even tenured and high ranking ones, struggle when working on deeper, richer skin tones. Every professional makeup artist should be able to artfully beautify and style any and every skin color. Fatima Thomas

Clients, models and makeup artists of color consistently tell me they feel alienated from the beauty industry; artistic and cultural education is key to authentically engage and include black and brown communities. Fred Vellon

Please stop making all foundation shades for women of color with red undertones. Frederick W. Sanders

Black makeup artists should be given equal opportunities and not just when there is Black talent. Our skills are all-encompassing. Jaleesa Jaikarian

Black artists have earned their seat at the table. Janice Tunnell

Opportunity and true inclusion is everything!. We’re different but our goals are the same, Let’s make some magic. Jaqueline R. Thompson

We are not monolithic. Jennifer Ivey

We need to awaken ourselves from a natural tendency towards indifference, it too often manifests as emotional harm. Jennifer James

I want you to know that my talent, professionalism, skill, and expertise should not be dictated by the color of my skin. Jessica Williams

On beauty brands — Brown foundations matter. When they are done right, we rejoice! Joi Offutt 

When you’re looking to hire me because you need someone who works with ethnic skin it makes me wonder why you kept a mediocre artist on your roster until you had to get a Black one. Jordana David

My skintone should be in your demographic. Juanita DeWitt

I would like makeup brands to create more than just shades for deeper skin. Create opportunities within your company so that we are represented correctly. Karim Orange

It shouldn’t be such an effort for so many makeup artists to do makeup for women of color. Katt Henriquez-Thillet

I would like the industry to remember that even when there are no picket lines or trending social media hashtags, we still exist and the scope of our influence should be more then an afterthought. Keitric Starks

Like many, I’m usually one of the only persons of color at work, and code switching has become as natural for me as picking up a makeup brush. Kendra Gassner

My dollars are not just sustainable and natural, they are Black, and just like I turn to your products to keep my skin healthy for life, I need to trust that this industry supports
keeping me alive. Kenya Daugherty

In order to change the trajectory of business, understand the needs of diverse consumers and deepen the level of inclusivity, it is imperative that beauty brands include a larger representation of Black people in decision making, creative and leadership roles. Kisha Augustine

Black culture is American culture and the ability to do all skin shades and undertones efficiently shows superior skill and expertise. Kym Nicole Oubre

If you are judging my skill set on my skin tone and name, you are proving the point that there are deep rooted issues within our society and industry. Learn my name. Why should I continue to simplify my name to make you comfortable? LaQuanna Chong

Black is equal. Black is magic. Black ranges in shades. hues and undertones. Black is a force within the creative, advertisement and production realms. Black is to be celebrated not appropriated. Black is your brother. Black is your sister. Black is love. All Black Lives Matter. Larry Trae’Von

We don’t want to be overlooked because we are not the same skin color, come from different backgrounds, or haven’t had the opportunities you may have had. LaShondra White

There are a lot of talented and gifted Black makeup and special FX artists in this industry, all you have to do is step up, look and hire more than just one Black makeup artist for the job. LaSonya Gunter

Being Black is a gift from me to you, seriously look at the value you’re dismissing everyday. Latoya De’Shaun 

We are a minority that makes up the majority of the beauty world. Our presence and artistry should be revered — not underestimated! LaToya Ware

We are more than just assistants. Lee Will

A professional or commercial cosmetics line should have a broad range of global skin tones to be competitive; otherwise I can’t consider it for my kit regardless of it’s popularity or years of existence. Lisa Carter-McPhee

It is important for Black women to see beauty images of Black women, not the “white idea” of what Black beauty is. Lori Taylor

My makeup skills are not limited to work on only dark skin tones, I work on all skin tones with the same level of expertise. Lorrie Pearson

We are more than capable of doing the job. We are a wonderful and professional artist, that deserves the same dignity and respect as our fellow artists. We are apart of the same artist community and family. Let’s all see what needs to be change, stand hand in hand to see it done. Magen Greys

To be a strong ally you must commit to a deep and honest exploration of your connection with racism,then make space for change. Mahasin Philips

We want you to know that Black makeup artists are skilled and qualified to handle your big projects. Manouchka Milliance

I want to obtain real economic inclusion so I can create generational wealth. Marcia Willams 

We have to be exceptional to be noticed. Margina Dennis

Black makeup artist is not one of convenience, for the moment, to fill a void; black makeup artists are qualified artists through and through and the measurement of their work should be judged on their depth and quality rather than simply the color of their skin. Marietta Carter-Narcisse

Inclusivity is more than 10 shades of brown. It’s so much deeper. Merli Estime

Being a pro at your artistry is having the skill to work with all skin tones, types, and textures! This skill is the key to making it to the next level in artistry. Merrell Hollis

Learn color theory and skin tones to create foundation shades, “your skin is too beautiful to cover” is not a compliment and can read as you don’t have the proper foundation, you don’t know how to match or this is not your preferred client. MeShun Vann

Far too often the correlation between talent and access is an illusion, it’s time for that to change. Monae Everett

Black makeup artists are different. Let this not be upsetting to you but instead release the resistance to what’s different and look forward to including the beautiful diversity and unique perspective that we offer, because the gloriously creative results that we bring to the table are uplifting and life-giving to everyone. Monifa Mortis

It’s a never ending to blending no matter the hue. Neicy Small

As a Black creative, I would like everyone — from photographers, agencies and cosmetic brands, to beauty editors, creative directors and CEOs — to understand that Black creatives are fully capable and deserving of the samelevel of respect, opportunities, support and compensation as our non-Black counterparts. Nicky Posley

Being a Black makeup artist is having to watch brands and beauty platforms only  prioritize your melanin when it is in trend or there is a spotlight on the issue. Odera Nduka

We are talented, creative, caring, teaching, teachable intelligent human beings  however, you will never know if you are not willing to include, embrace, teach, learn from or see us and afford us the same chances and opportunities that you share with each other. Patrice Coleman

We have to work ten times harder and we have to be the most prepared; there is no room for mistakes. Raisa Flowers

I wish there were more opportunities afforded to us to get in the union so that we can be more represented on major film and television productions. Rashida Williams

Be sure you love the chemistry you make between yourself and your client, it’s impact on the work can be profound and lead to amazing artistry. Reggie Wells

Black women are tired of looking ashy from bad makeup jobs. As pro makeup artists let’s right our wrongs to build trust. Ricky Wilson

I’m a professional makeup artist. This is all I want to say. Simply, I am a professional. I don’t need to explain. Robbin Junnola

As makeup artists, we see color in everything that we do. We respect and consider it’s intensity and the energy it will bring to the completion of our work. The makeup industry should embrace this same regard and put to rest the contradicting ideal of “I don’t see color.” as it relates to human beings. SanTara Cassmajor

Just like our makeup foundation palettes, we as makeup artists also come in all colors, shades and hues, and thank God for that, otherwise it would indeed be a very dull world. Selena Miller

Don’t underestimate the power you have to make a difference by expanding your scope of mindset, artistry, and overall standards of beauty. Sharicka Washington

I want you to know that a large number of Black artists would have more of the necessary diversity in their portfolios if the industry would recognize that we’re capable of doing more than just Black makeup. Sharon Renee

It has been challenging navigating an industry that wasn’t built to celebrate people of color. Nevertheless, I have used my artistry to make women of all ethnicities and skin tones look and feel beautiful. Shaune Hayes

Black artists — with all of our creativity and influence — are still not taken seriously in the industry and are limited in our access to certain spaces. Siteria “Siti” Gregory

As a Black makeup artist, I just want to be treated equally and respected in my career and in life. Stephanie Saint-Louis

We are very well versed; and, there are no substitutes which can define, illustrate, or create our pillar existence better than those who are a part of that pillar. Synthe

We would like the opportunity not only to tell our stories in front of the camera but to create and cultivate the images of our culture behind the scenes as well! Syretta L. Bell

I am professional, skilled,customer service oriented and I embrace all — I just want you to embrace me. Talya Ashford

I want you to know we are multifaceted and our Black excellence and intelligence is shown in a myriad of ways, Don’t box us in. We can, have, and will change the world  again and again. Terez Stewart

Being Black in the beauty industry brings inclusivivity and diversity. More black makeup artists are philanthropists that add more unity to the beauty community. Viola Nicholson

When you’re creating products for the black consumer, the black creative needs to be a part of every part of the process. Virgininia Dervil

We are multi-dimensional women excluded from the conversation of beauty, yet we have forged a path that creates noise. Buckle up and enjoy the ride! Waverly McSwain

As Black artists, creators, business executives, and customers, we won’t settle for performative acts of inclusion; but, what we seek is true agency in the decision making that shapes the images, products, and business practices that influence how all of us are represented in the world of beauty and beyond. Wendy Goodman Ewing

Hiring a multi talented Black makeup artist does not mean creating a cheap safety net just in case a Black, Indigenous or Person of Color shows up and the rest of the beauty team is not experienced in working with these skin tones. Whitney Palmer

As a Black artist, I can’t afford to be mediocre in my craft. Yvonne Wallace

There are no excuses as to why all artists can’t do global skin tones. I want to be hired for my skill, not because I’m a Black artist and people think I can only do Black clients. Zahrya Geben

On Thursday, June 11, 2020. The Powder Group presented a special online program focused on listening to the voices of the Black makeup artist community — A Community Conversation: The Black Makeup Artist Experience .This session addressed the unique experiences, concerns and challenges of our Black brothers and sisters in makeup artistry with a panel of nine important voices from our industry: Merrell Hollis, Bethany Townes, DeShawn Hatcher, La Sonya Gunter, Marietta Carter-Narcisse, Jessica Williams, Janice Tunnell, Denise Tunnell and Selena Miller.

As a fundraiser for four organizations chosen by our panelists, we continue to offer rewatch opportunity for this session with a donation to one of the below organizations. Black Lives Matter, Ali Forney Center, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, American Civil Liberties Union. For details please email Kenya@thepowdergroup.com