This past Saturday I attended the third annual Women of Color event at Macy’s Aventura, and bellas let me tell you — it was a beautiful thing.

I attended this event in its first year, and immediately saw its unlimited potential. It’s the one day of the year that the beauty department is filled with black, brown, Latina, Asian, and Middle Eastern women of all hues, all being wooed and catered to by experts at each cosmetics counter.

The event has only become more popular, and this year, Chanel, Dior, Benefit, Lancome, Goldenfaden, Clinique, MAC — all counters were at least five bellas deep, all seeking consultations.

I was fortunate enough to spend my time with the Macy’s PR (big shout out to Ivonne! She was very accommodating) and interview two celebrity makeup artists.

I really can’t say enough nice things about Patrece Williams. There’s always something a little magical when I meet another Patrice, whatever the spelling!

Believe me when I say, this sista is on the rise. Patrece has so much personality, so much presence and power, she needs to be on television. I want to see her hosting her own show on Bravo, she is THAT warm and wonderful and funny. If I had to compare her, personality wise, to anyone — I’d say she’s a little Mo’Nique and a little Niecey Nash, with a voice made for cartoons. You just want to be her best friend, have dinner with her, then let her give you a makeover. More on Patrece — with videos of her giving makeup tips! — in an upcoming post.

In her well-attended presentation, Patrece addressed the warm spirit and palpable excitement in the room with empowering words. “Women of color, embrace those full lips. Embrace that beautiful skin. People pay money to get what we got for free!”

Her top choice of makeup came as no surprise. “I love MAC foundations. I think they’ve taken the time and done the research to really cater to women of color. I worked for them for five years, so I can attest that they take it seriously.”

MAC’s name is already golden amongst black women, and I believe some other brands have tried to step forward to address the beauty needs of women all shades of beautiful.

Make Up For Ever has stepped up its shade game. Of course there’s Prescriptives, which offers so many shades it’ll make your head hurt, and I know quite a few dark skinned bellas who swear by NARS, and some who love Lancome. A few other major department store makeup brands offer more than 12 shades of foundation. And there are quite a few with woefully few options, that don’t venture past shades with names like “honeyed beige” or “ochre.”

I also had the pleasure of interviewing makeup artist to the stars, the Eyebrow King, Damone Roberts, in the green room upstairs as he tried to match the foundation for the model he was going to use during his presentation. Mr. Roberts had like 10 different shades of foundation and an entire coffee table of makeup out before him, as he tried to settle on what colors to use and what shades blended almost-perfectly.

We chatted about makeup and the divine Mrs. Obama — he’s dying to get his expert hands on her brows, and I think he’s the man for the job! Damone believes think a change’s gonna come in the cosmetics industry.

“They have to! We’re a powerful market and you can’t deny it. Not anymore. There’s a first lady in the White House who is a beautiful woman of color! Makeup for women of color is a neglected market. And when I say women of color, I’m not just talking about African Americans. I mean Asian Americans, Latin Americans, Native Americans — it’s all America!” he declared.

It’s ridiculous to think that Michelle Obama couldn’t find her shade of foundation at the department store in 2009, but even today, it’s kind of true. Her options are still limited. She’d have to look at a few big-name brands that truly cater to her skin tone, because not all of them do. Yet. Things have come a long way, but we’ve got a ways to go.

Seeing the excited crowds at the Women of Color event gave me hope. I hope that Macy’s makes it a traveling event, because this could be huge in a city like Atlanta, Washington DC, Dallas, New Orleans, or heyyyy – Chicago, where I’ll be living soon. It might be one day out of the year, but it’s a start. More on my interview with Damone Roberts to come, including his top tips and product recommendations for brown skinned beauties!

What do you think, bellas? Am I looking at the industry from a glass half empty perspective? What are your predictions? Do you see change coming to the department store cosmetics counters?

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