Five Ways to Support Black-Owned Brands Without Going Broke

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Buying black is easier said than done, especially when it comes to makeup. Since I started my @dupeBLACK Instagram page dedicated to highlighting from black-owned brands, I’ve bought from several, and still, sometimes I feel guilty when I do a NYX haul or drop $50 on Anastasia Beverly Hills. When a company f**ks up, like ColourPop, our first solution is to tell people to cut these brands off and buy black.

But price, availability, and lack of reviews hinder many of us from supporting these brands. A direct example of this is when one compares an inexpensive brand to a black-owned brand that isn’t even in the same price realm. Say, a $6 lipstick compared to a $20 one from a BoB. Sometimes I don’t even think I should do shade comparisons on these brands. Not everyone wants to drop $20 on a lipstick. A rebuttal to this is that plenty of people spend that much on other luxury brands, but I don’t think analyzing how others spend their money is the solution. They may be more comfortable spending the money on brands they are already familiar with, or they can buy them locally and swatch the product before they buy it. Even with indie brands I support, I know that I tend to buy multiple times from a brand I trust rather than constantly buying new brands because I don’t want to waste my money if I don’t like it. We flock to what we are familiar with, that’s human nature.

However, there are ways to support black-owned brands without breaking the bank. Support does not necessarily need to be monetary. Let’s go over them!

  1. Share pictures from BoB on your social media – even if you don’t buy a product, one of your friends may see something you share and purchase. That’s one of the biggest goals with my page – I’d go broke placing orders with every brand I find appealing! But at least I can share the goods – sharing is caring. If you’re on Twitter, a retweet takes half a second and you may put someone on.
  2. If you have purchased from a brand, make sure you leave a review on their site if it’s available. Lack of reviews are a huge hurdle for BoBs – I mean, have you ever looked at the reviews on Sephora? There are often thousands of reviews, and even more if you head to YouTube. I know that everyone isn’t going to hop on camera, but using the review function or even leaving a review on their Facebook page helps.
  3. Share coupon codes and sales – if you’re like me, you cannot stand buying anything at full price! I’d say that 80% of things I buy I at least get some kind of free shipping promo. Sometimes they share things exclusively on Snapchat or another app, and while I know they want people to be following them on multiple apps…I’ll share it anyway. (Sorry brand owners, but a sale is better than a Snap score)
  4. Don’t bash a company without reaching out to them first. Do you know how many times people have told me about issues with a brand and when I ask if they’ve emailed them, they tell me no? Seriously? At least give them a chance to right the wrong – if your product breaks in the mail (we know USPS handles packages like footballs), send them a picture as soon as possible instead of posting the broken product on IG. And don’t expect a response the same day…many small brands do not have customer service teams and receive several emails a day. I know I may be a bit lenient, but I always reach out to a brand twice and give them up to a week to respond before I call them out. Which brings me to my next point…
  5. Be reasonable. Don’t freak out if something isn’t the exact color that you thought it would be unless the difference is extreme. Skin tone, computer resolution, lighting, etc. all affect the color of a product. I know something won’t look the same on me as it will on someone with lighter or darker skin. If a brand doesn’t have swatches with a variety of skin tones, consider that a lot of small brands cannot afford swatch models and many of their pictures shared are fan photos. Buying online is a gamble, period. I can find five different swatches of the same product and it will look totally different on each one, especially thanks to filters. Of course, some brands are a little iffy about this, but I think a lack of resources is more of an issue than it being deliberate. Don’t make crazy requests because you know that the product isn’t mass produced. I remember a lot of people requesting hair/beauty products be a specific scent or scent free when that option was not offered by the brand. Unless you’re calling Dove and doing the same thing, just don’t (actually don’t anyway).

And please, if you know of any black-owned brands, leave them in the comments here!

Five Reasons Being a Light Skinned Token is Complete and Utter Trash

It’s 2017, and colorism is clearly alive and well. We know this, although some refuse to acknowledge or admit it for a variety of reasons, whether they be self-serving or ignorant bliss. Some don’t think it’s important because at the end of the day, to most, being black will trump the color of your skin, or maybe it’s guilt, maybe it’s a lack of empathy on both sides. Regardless, it isn’t going to go anywhere if we cannot have open, honest, and respectful conversations about the topic without discounting one another.

As a light skinned black woman, colorism isn’t often a bridge I like to cross because it seems as if I’m “damned if I do and damned if I don’t.” I’ve been told that I only think colorism and light skinned privilege exist because it makes me feel superior, and on the other end of the spectrum I’ve been accused of ignoring the plights of darker toned women and ignoring the reality of privilege. I honestly don’t know how it can be both, but I’ve learned that sometimes I just need to listen. It’s like when someone confides in your about their problems and you instantly make it about yourself after quickly dismissing their anecdote. Other times, I think I’d be selling myself short if I didn’t speak up about how light skinned women are sometimes treated in the black community. When someone calls light skinned women ugly and believes the only reason we are seen as desirable is because of our lack of melanin, some people may quietly side eye them, but it mainly doesn’t receive attention because we’re seen as the group of privilege, and no one is willing to put themselves on the line when you aren’t the oppressed party.

What’s more, there seems to be a blatant exclusion of light skinned women when compiling images or stories of black women. I’m not even demanding to be included because there is still a lack of representation of brown skinned women in media and a plethora of industries, and I understand and respect that, but how many articles am I going to see that highlight black women without anyone who looks like me? Are we not not black as well, or just not black enough? In addressing this pattern, I’ve been told that it isn’t necessary for me to be represented among black women because I’m already represented in the mainstream. While there’s no question that lighter toned women are often used as a “safer, more acceptable” representation of black women in mainstream media, a lack of understanding is revealed to assume that many find this flattering, a win, acceptable, or something that replaces unity within your own race. I can only speak on my personal experience and those around me, but I don’t know any light skinned women who cheer when we’re so obviously (and often awkwardly) placed in a sea of white women to show “diversity.” So, allow me to break down the reasons why being a token is more harmful and vile than anything.

  1. It increases resentment within the black community, especially among women. You think that people care that I don’t like light skinned women being paraded around as ambiguous representations of black beauty? Of course not, we likely won’t even get to that point of the conversation. There’s a misdirected resentment towards light skinned women due to colorism when we have no control over the color of our skin. I actually believe there are specific reasons to promote this division that has roots in slavery, but I’m trying to keep this article semi-short, and the concept is nothing new.
  2. People tend to find it more acceptable to say racist things around you. Sophia Richie expressed this some time ago (and people even threw her a side eye because she apparently doesn’t look black enough), but people don’t have to think you’re white, they just need to think you’re docile or have a reason to be less militant (ie, privileged). “Oh, you aren’t a real black person, I wasn’t talking about you.” Last time I checked, being black wasn’t a processed burger from a fast food joint compiled of artificial materials. My blackness is real, it matters, and I don’t play that shit.
  3. Colorism exhibited by the mainstream (white society) is anti-black and strips away our identity as black women. I fail to understand why I would be happy to see someone who looks like me be a representative of the black race when I know that the reason explicitly is rooted in not looking “that” black or being “acceptable” black. What kind of victory is that? This is more of a convenience to the media but a complete disservice to everyone in the black community, not just those excluded.
  4. You sometimes question whether an opportunity is the result of your skin color rather than your skill or talent. I remember years ago asking others if they were okay with accepting an opportunity that they could confirm was the result of privilege, and while I’d like to think not, everyone isn’t that blatant about it. Whether the opportunity is minor or major, it’s a nagging thought and unacceptable for anyone to feel that way.
  5. Some believe that looking a certain way excludes you from racism that brown skinned black people experience, especially when the media’s definition of inclusion is a fair skinned black woman with loose waves. Months ago, I saw a combative and divisive meme circulating the web that challenged light skinned women to relay their stories about being called a monkey and the like rather than simply feeling insulted because we may be bullied out of jealousy. Hate to break it to you…but to a racist white person, a “monkey” is a beast regardless of skin tone. Not to mention, skin color doesn’t exclude one from having black features that are often ridiculed in society, such as “soup cooler” lips, “nigger noses,” and the like.

Let me be 100% clear, this is not an article that is meant to compare light skinned and dark skinned plight. The experiences are completely different and the nuances are incredibly deep and complicated. But to assume that light skinned folks are floating around on cotton candy and soaking up all this “privilege” like champs is naive and misinformed. Intended to harm and divide, colorism is a perpetually toxic poison that infects us all.

Winky Lux Is the Whimsical Lipstick I Didn’t Know I Needed

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If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been adding more and more creamy lipsticks to my stash. I used to be a total MAC lipstick junkie, but got tired of my lipstick constantly wearing off when I went out and switched to liquid long-wear formulas. However, once winter hit I realized that the liquid lipstick life isn’t always sustainable. For one, they’re more drying, which isn’t that bad, but can pose a problem when the temps are below 20 degrees and it’s windy. No one wants that. Also, when I got sick (read: dehydrated) I needed a formula that would provide me with moisture, pigment, and would be easy to take off. When I have a fever I don’t have the strength to scrub off some of those strong formulas.

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