We’ve got “alternative facts” in media and politics, and they don’t stop there – I’ve seen quite a few beauty “tips” or “hacks” that I’d definitely categorize as potentially harmful, couched as advice from a beauty or wellness pro. I’ll admit, I’ve had my concerns when I watch these well-edited, ill-advised video clips of beautiful young women using household goods or food items to enhance their appearance – inadvertently opening themselves up to skin damage or bacterial infection, and recommending these practices to their ardent followers. This column is my way of combating misinformation by consulting those who have put in years in the field and know from doing.
Ask a Beauty Expert will do just that, answering your questions and teaching us new tips, tricks and ideas for enhancing your beauty on your terms! My first beauty expert is Aliesh Pierce, Long Beach based professional makeup artist and skincare pro, in the field for over 37 years. She’s here to share 11 Things African American Women Should Know About Makeup. Take it away, Aliesh!
My career as a professional makeup artist has given me access to every sector of the beauty industry. I started my career working with models in print doing makeup on set for editorial, advertising and catalog shoots. This led me into the world of celebrity where I was the lead makeup artist on album packaging, music videos and TV performances for clients like India.Arie, R. Kelly, Amel Larrieux, Yolanda Adams and Johnny Gill.
When the music industry shifted, I found myself longing to try something new. This led me into skincare where I was quickly accepted as a beauty expert. I have had the opportunity to speak at trade shows, produce training videos and I even authored a textbook called Treating Diverse Pigmentation. This level of expertise caught the eye of a few brands and I now work primarily in product development and education, inspiring other industry professionals to spread my multi-ethnic approach to beauty.
I recently launched a site called Ask Aliesh where I share my beliefs about beauty and empower women to take control of their beauty regimen. After working in the industry over 37 years, there are a few things I have learned about formulation that manufacturers don’t always tell you. But I’ll share my insights here on Afrobella.com!
1 — Liquid foundation formulas always start with a white lotion.
This is why most liquid foundations tend to mute your skin tone. More recently manufacturers have started creating foundations with a dimethicone or cyclomethicone base because it’s fairly colorless. My only issue with dimethicone is that, as a silicone derivative, it creates an occlusive layer over the skin that can clog the “pores” over time. It is imperative that you adopt an aggressive skincare ritual when you’re using silicone-based products. Lancome, Smashbox, Armani and MAC offer some of my favorite dimethicone based formulas.
2 — Iron Oxides are unstable.
You may have heard makeup artists use the term “dry down color”. Well, the pigments that give foundation its color are called Iron Oxides. When they are exposed to oxygen or a change in pH they oxidize further, causing them to change color.
3 — Powdered mineral foundation rarely matches deep brown skin tones.
One reason for this is the fact mentioned above – unstable pigments. However there is the added complication that mineral powders are usually formulated with other minerals like talc, a white powder used for oil absorption, or the ingredient Bismuth Oxichloride that ensures even application but leaves a pearlescent glow.
4 — It is estimated that there are over 35 different colors of dark skin.
This means that, even in the most inclusive line of foundations, you’re not likely to find an exact match. You’ll probably need to blend at least two shades together, adjusting the balance for winter and summer.
5 — Setting powders will always look chalky on deep skin tones.
Setting powders are basically red, yellow and blue pigments blended with talc. So they will never be a perfect-match. My tip is to dust off excess powder with a foundation brush until the powder is blended into the skin.
6 — HD Powders usually create “flash back.”
HD powders are silica based with a touch of mica, the “light reflecting pigments” so many brands mention in their advertising. They create a slight glow that makes skin look alive after you beat it into submission with powder. The problem is that most brands use the silver/white version of mica rather than the warm/golden tones.
TEMPTU Invisible Difference Finishing Powder is silica based and has mica that is so finely milled that it doesn’t seem to pose a problem.
7 — Yellow-based foundations look great on ALL skin tones.
What the brain perceives as color is merely light waves bouncing off a surface at different rates. Yellow reflects light better than red or blue. So, even if your skin is closer to the red or blue spectrum, highlight the center of the face with a yellow-based foundation or concealer for a radiant, bright look.
8 — Nude lipsticks are rarely nude.
Flesh toned lipsticks must have a bluish undertone to compliment brown skin. Unfortunately manufacturers attempt to please the masses so the colors are often to white or pale yellow to compliment deep skin tones. Line lips with a warm pencil and feather inward to anchor chalky nude colors.
9 — Color correctors are meant to spot treat.
These types of products are often found in quads of yellow, green, orange and lavender. Orange cancels out dark circles and spots for a flawless look. It works by neutralizing the blue within discolored areas. However when they are used over an entire area they adjust the healthy skin as well. That’s why you see tutorials where people follow with a thick layer of foundation.
10 — Sun damage is cumulative
I often hear women complain that their summer shade no longer works for them. This is because the effects of UV rays add up over time. Using a sunscreen will ensure that sun exposed areas like your hairline don’t darken. Also regular exfoliation helps renew damaged skin.
11 — Even after you find the perfect color, it will probably be discontinued.
Products must meet sales quotas in order to keep their shelf space. Brands pay around $6,000 a month for department stores to stock their products. So be sure to stock up on the products you like — just keep in mind that they only have a 2-year shelf life.
Aliesh Pierce is the author of the textbook Treating Diverse Pigmentation. Before making the transition to skin care, Aliesh was a freelance makeup artist. After working almost a decade in the fashion industry between New York, Milan and Zurich, she became the personal makeup artist for celebrities in the 90’s like Faith Evans, Queen Latifah, Anastasia, Pink, India.Arie and Ming Na Win. These varied experiences made her adept at working with diverse skin tones. That expertise carried over into her skin care career when she was commissioned by Volwerk to expand the color range of their personal care brand Jafra Cosmetics International. She ultimately launched the new color range in the US, Italy and Switzerland and continues to produce training videos in Italian for Jafra Cosmetics Italia.
While maintaining a roster of private facial clients, Aliesh continues to support various brands with training, marketing and product development. Through her online beauty portal AskAliesh.com she regularly features emerging brands by creating ingredient reviews, skin care articles and makeup tutorials.