Freelance Life

A members advice on choosing green beauty products for her Black skin

Nana Mensah, one of CBU's industry advisors shares her personal journey with green beauty. She shares the trials, challenges and triumphs she's had in finding green beauty products as a Black woman.

Ethics

Nana Mensah headshot

Table of Contents

Introduction

Historically, the UK cosmetics industry has underrepresented the needs of Black consumers, and many green beauty brands have lagged even further behind. But now, more and more companies, both mainstream and indie, are beginning to take notice and develop skincare and makeup lines that suit a much more comprehensive range of skin tones. 

As more companies realise that catering to the needs of Black consumers or simply making their full range more readily available and accessible makes excellent business sense, it, in turn, means a more sustainable practice for us, the conscious beauty professional. 

Shockingly, until this year (when it became compulsory), many professional hair and makeup schools simply did not teach students how to cater to Black and Brown clients’ beauty needs as part of the curriculum. So it’s not surprising that many ‘professionals’ are not adequately equipped to cater to a full spectrum of skin tones. 

We asked our CBU Advisor, Nana Mensah, to share her tips and tricks for choosing green beauty products that suit her skin tone. What she had to say might be helpful to those of us who work with private clients and are looking for some more insight into products that could benefit your client’s skin, health and environmental beauty goals.

How I choose conscious products for my skin tone

We often hear that green brands are not “inclusive” of all skin tones, which definitely seems true in the UK. But is it really as simple as that?

In my experience, I’ve found that I need to employ a more pragmatic approach, with a sprinkling of creative thinking when seeking products for my deep brown skin tone.

Whilst I love the idea of clean/green beauty, the truth is, I also want the product to make me happy, smell good and have colour, texture and feel that I love.

Splashes of colour

I’ve fallen in love with powders again because the ‘green’ brands tend to have fewer filler ingredients and the mica, in particular, hides a multitude of sins. I find these powders reflect the light differently from liquid foundation, and as a non-professional, I can get a natural finish without looking pasty.

When it comes to foundation, particularly in the ‘green beauty’ arena, I’m usually limited to the two darkest shades in most mineral foundations ranges. However, I still have a pretty good choice. I’ve learnt to look for shades that work with my undertone and compare it to products I’ve used before. It isn’t always straightforward, and ideally, I’d try it on in-store or order a sample, but I’ve always found a way to make it work. 

Again, I have found Inika’s offering an excellent fit for me, specifically the colours Joy and Fortitude. Although I don’t have much choice, I alternate between the two shades and can make either work for me, but I prefer Fortitude. I’m sure there are many other brands now, but these were the best out there when I was looking (and could try products in stores). 

As I’m trying to limit my consumption, I like to use what I already have – sometimes in ways the product is not intended for. For instance, I’ve used foundation shades that have been a bit too light for me as a highlighter. Equally, if I’m going to invest in new products, I only look for things that will add something new and dynamic to my collection – or one I simply can’t resist!

I don’t think all brands should be all things to all people. I am of the opinion that if a range doesn’t have products for me, that’s perfectly OK. But, if a brand wants to be “inclusive”, they must consider how their products look and feel on the widest range of skin tones – and actually test this on their products on all the skin tones they intend to cater to. Also, their marketing and promotional material should reflect their entire customer base.

Setting the tone

I find mineral colours extremely versatile; they bring shimmer and light, emanate colour in all sorts of ways and bring depth and variety to my face, which is lots of fun. 

Generally, bronzers and eye products pop on my skin and bring a lovely radiance. In most brands, the colour selection is usually fine – at least for me. However, some natural brands I’ve tried have very limited shades and don’t quite hit the mark. Of those that I’ve tried, I found Dr Haushcka and Benecos bronzers slightly dusty, chalky and very flat on my skin. 

There are many great mainstream brands with very innovative product formulations, but upholding my values, and making conscious beauty purchases, means I can be limited in my choice of brands that achieve the results I want. 

I’ve always been a massive fan of Kevyn Aucoin eyeshadows because of how heavily pigmented, versatile and long-lasting they are. However, wanting a greener option, I began seeking out alternatives and discovered Inika Organic’s mineral eyeshadow. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. I find the loose eye powders glide on very softly and can be applied with fingertips to give me a fresher and more natural look. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, I can say that for the most part, green beauty can meet my beauty needs IF I do the work and adapt what is there, but the industry still has a long way to go.

I would like more brands who are interested in being inclusive to engage with Black consumers and discover what it is we want from green beauty, and why. I would like to see more choices for my skin tone and hope things continue to improve.

More related articles are linked below but please see our article Best Natural Foundations for Darker Skin Tones for additional product guidance.

About Nana

I’m an aromatherapist and beauty professional with many years of experience. I specialise in helping people choose skincare to meet their needs, as well as focusing on their wellbeing. Beauty products fascinate me, but some industry jargon confuses my clients and me, so I try to educate myself as much as possible.

 

I like green/clean products simply because I’ve worked with organic food and beauty for some time. I don’t see the need for excessive ingredient lists and find simpler products work better on my skin. Admittedly, I find it hard to resist pretty colours and seductive marketing and have no qualms about buying into products if I simply love them. 

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