Black make-up artist says she had to make foundation out of eyeshadow growing up

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Evanne is creating content so people can look up to her (Image: Evanne Asiedu)
Evanne is creating content so people can look up to her (Image: Evanne Asiedu)

Evanne Alarnah Asiedu may be only 24 years old, but she remembers a time when she struggled to find her skin tone represented in any foundation shades and was forced to take black eyeshadow pigments and mix them into a lighter foundation, desperately praying that it would match her skin.

Now, the beautician and TikTok content creator from London acknowledges that certain beauty brands have come a long way, spotlighting Rihanna's viral brand Fenty Beauty as a "game changer" - but she's still waiting for others to follow suit, especially when it comes to representing the myriad of Black skin undertones in make-up.

Evanne regularly posts content on her TikTok account @evannealarnah, as she hopes to offer Black women and girls the representation she didn't have online growing up. The make-up artist is calling for more Black women to be involved in boardroom conversations surrounding the beauty industry, and highlights the need for Black influencers and artists to be fairly credited for their hard work and trend-setting.

"It's extremely important to me to feel represented by beauty brands because I love make-up, so if I'm going to spend my money to purchase from the brands, I want to feel included and like the brand has the right shade for me", Evanne told The Mirror.

She acknowledged that many brands have "come a long way" when it comes to shade diversity, adding that there are "specific brands that trailblaze to push for darker skin tones of make-up". "We're a good point where brands are clocking on to the fact there are a lot of darker skin shades, rather than just two," she noted.

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But it hasn't always been this way - the make-up industry barely used to cater to darker skin tones when Evanne was growing up. "When I was younger, for eyeshadow, I mixed black or dark tones with a lighter tone in order for it to show up on me, or I would manipulate a lighter skin tone with concealer to use as a base so the colour would show up on me", the pro revealed.

"For foundation, I would mix literally black eyeshadow with a lighter foundation and mix them together, then apply it to my face. There were a lot of things I had to put together to create my shade, and I feel it was unnecessary - it could've been done in a factory, but I had to do it at home.

Black make-up artist says she had to make foundation out of eyeshadow growing upEvanne acknowledges the beauty industry has come a long way (Evanne Asiedu)
Black make-up artist says she had to make foundation out of eyeshadow growing upBut she also knows that there is still a long way to go (Evanne Asiedu)

"It made me feel frustrated and unseen. There has been research done that shows Black women are the top consumers of beauty, yet brands weren't able to tap into that and recognise us, knowing that our community can fund a lot into purchasing these products. They choose to market products at lighter skinned women, or cater more to them."

Evanne also called out drugstore brands for not stocking darker shades which the brands actually produce and can be purchased online, but not in store.

Thankfully, there has been a notable shift in recent years which has seen the make-up industry become more inclusive. Evanne said: "I saw a shift in 2016, and MAC and Sleek were the OGs of bringing out the first dark-skin shades of foundation and concealer that I started to wear. But the biggest mainstream shift was when Fenty Beauty launched in 2017 and I feel like Rihanna literally shook up the game by expanding her shade range to about 50 shades, but also working on undertones as well.

"That was a really big thing for the Black community because even though there were a few dark shades with brands, they would be really dark, or red. But Fenty Beauty tapped into neutral tones, or more yellow undertones, or deep blue pigments as well, because there are so many shades of us. And the fact Rihanna is a celebrity as well, and not even a make-up artist was an eye-opener because other brands couldn't even tap into that. Make-up brands also need to use models with a variety of skin tones so you can see what products like lipsticks and eyeshadows will look like on everyone."

Black make-up artist says she had to make foundation out of eyeshadow growing upEvanne praises Fenty Beauty for considering the undertones of Black women (Evanne Asiedu)
Black make-up artist says she had to make foundation out of eyeshadow growing upShe believes that more Black women should be in the boardrooms, making decisions about make-up products (Evanne Asiedu)

Arguing that Black make-up artists and influencers deserve more credit for their innovative ideas and trend-setting content, Evanne added: "Black creators are making this content and trying products but we don't get noticed or as much recognition as our [white] counterpart would. If there's a make-up trend that started with a Black creator, the white creator will get noticed more than it'll blow up, but the Black creator that started it will be discredited, or not even recognised.

"As a Black creator, I have to do the absolute most to get seen. My counterpart will just put on a blue eyeliner and it's like 'wow', and we have to do five times more than they would - we're here having to draw houses on our faces.

"My motivation was to see women like me creating the content that I want to see. I learned make-up on YouTube, but I was watching content from white or light-skinned creators, so I had to really understand that these brands may not have my shade. It's really important I push my content for little girls growing up to see a representation of themselves and to see that there are finally products out there and that there is someone to actually talk about the product in depth, rather than just saying 'oh it's really good'. I want to be someone who creates authentic and honest reviews."

Revealing the reality behind influencing as a Black content creator, Evanne says the widespread pay discrepancy between white and Black creators on social media is cause for concern. She says: "It happens even now - Black creators get paid sometimes half of what a white creator is paid when it comes to brand deals."

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Opening up about her own experience, Evanne says she once realised that a white woman was getting paid almost double the amount for a job they both worked on together, after discussing fees with the creator.

"There's still a lot of work to be done when it comes to the make-up industry", she added. "Sometimes when I see a new product on the market I think 'get me in the product development room right now'. I feel like in terms of advertisement and content creators, Black creators are pushed, but when it comes to the boardrooms and the head offices, it's still white, so I feel like there needs to be more inclusion upstairs rather than downstairs.

"You're using us as decoration to claim you're inclusive, but are you really? Are you really Black-owned? Are you really listening to our opinion before you make a product, or are you just making it to appeal to the market and to say you're doing it? Brands should have us in the boardrooms, have us develop and try the product, so we know it actually fits us."

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Danielle Kate Wroe

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