Cat Inspired: BB Creams for Black People or Just "Medium to Dark" People

"Medium/dark" is a beauty epithet I've both embraced, as I love the mountain clay color I'm painted with, and found totally useless.

Feb 9, 2012 at 5:07pm | Leave a comment

Like most of you, I don't know Cat in real life. I only have the faintest sense of her tangibility and that's because I heard her voice once on a conference call six months ago. As such I find her fascinating in an ephemeral but very real way. Like how you might think of your upstairs neighbor who you swear is having crazy MMA fight parties in their bedroom at 3 AM but have no evidence of since she leaves for work way before you wake up in the morning. 

In that same vein, when I read Cat's "You Down with BB Creams" post last week, the whole time I'm thinking, "Yeah that sounds cool but I doubt it'll work on non-Cat me" meaning among many things, black people, which of course, she clarified herself in a previous post: 

YES, BB creams treat both. And – AND !!! – it’s makeup! And sunscreen! The most wonderful tinted moisturizer ever. Well, for a lot of skin tones, and by a lot I mean lighter skin tones. No, they are not for darker people, though the black makeup artist at the event was using it as highlighter. So there you go! 
The beauty/fashion industry has, in my non-insidery opinion, done a pretty crap job of making the hottest shit accessible to "women of color." Usually I hate that phrase because no one is totally lacking color, we're all something.  No one is color-less. But for those of us working with a little more melanin all over, including but not limited to people of the "African diaspora," of Latin descent, of Meditteranean descent and so on and so forth--finding anything from a nude bra to a "natural" eye shadow can be a Rorschach reality check. We just see what we want to see.

I've internalized the popular myth that "chocolate" is my go-to color adjective -- and I'm way more almond-y than anything. When perusing the beauty aisles at CVS I regularly assume "medium/dark" means me despite the fact that the deepness of my epidermis is all relative. African Americans have called me "brown," as in I pass the "paper bag test," an insidious self-hating exercise begun in the early to mid 20th century wherein if one was lighter than or equal to the color of a "brown paper bag" one was considered "ok" for elite African American society. The horrible mnemonic from that era goes, "If you're light, you're alright. If you're brown, stick around. If you're black, get back." Gross, huh?

But black people, of course, aren't the only gene pool (or race, if you will) who suffer from "colorism." In most cultures where the labor/working class could be visibly distinguished from the elite/aristocratic class by skin darkened by back breaking work outside in the sun, lighter skin is idealized. All across Asia there are "skin lightening" creams. Same goes for India, South America and, more recently, parts of Africa. 

All that is to say that "medium/dark" is a beauty epithet I've both embraced, as I love the mountain clay color I'm painted with, and found totally useless. Until I tried Garnier's "Miracle Skin Perfector B.B. Cream" in "medium deep." It worked, ya'll!

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This is my morning face after it's been gently washed, toned, lotioned and SPF'd by Clinique.

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And THIS is my face smeared from hair line to collar bone with Garnier's new magic in a tube. Like Cat suggested in her original post, I got all up in my "shady" areas -- around my nostrils, under my eye sockets and in the "happy times" lines around my mouth. At first the stuff, which DOES smell awesome, looked like it'd give me "pancake face" but I trusted the process and kept smoothing. 

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So THIS is my face with NO FOUNDATION besides Garnier's B.B. Cream. I then added a little NARS blush and Laura Mercier concealer under my eyes, because I'm not an animal. 

When I met some friends for happy hour later that night I asked if my face looked "ashy," which is usually what happens when a melanin rich person uses a non-matching  makeup on their face.

"You have make up on?" was the answer I got, which my great grandmother taught me is exactly what people should say when they see you. Not, "Oh god, you've got goobs of gobbledygook on." 

So Cat is once again a fairy-godmother in my mind, waving a magic wand of products I can actually use! But the "natural" makeup monster needs to be fed more. Women of the rainbow, I want to know: what have you discovered that makes you look like you (and not like you just got a flour facial)?