Colonialism and Concealer: The Importance of Realistic Makeup Expectations


Over the past month or so, I have encountered numerous people in search of that one miracle product that will do x for them. I feel so sad when I have to let them down and tell them that there is no makeup product in the world that will do what they want it to do because it is physically impossible without surgery. Consider this a highlight reel and an education in what is reasonable to expect from your makeup.

Come to terms with and embrace your skin tone. You can fake a deeper skin tone with bronzer and contouring; however, purchasing a too-dark foundation will make you look strange, especially if said foundation does not match your neck. Similarly, purchasing a too-light foundation – I’m looking at you, my fellow folks of colour – will make you look ashy and ghost-like. Along with foundation, there is no lipstick/lip gloss/eyeshadow/blush that will make your skin look lighter. You are what you are. Be realistic about your skin tone and embrace it (as hard as it is in a society that places such a high value on whiteness and links pale skin with beauty).

This ubiquitous desire for whiteness – which I could write a rant about in and of itself – makes me so sad. It is an archaic remnant of colonialism, a time where white settlers gave special privileges to POC with fair skin and treated those with deeper skin more harshly. As difficult as it is, we need to embrace our beautiful olive, tan, and brown skin, and live lives that redefine beauty to include people who look like we do. I know that it can be hard to find foundation in your skintone, but Nars, Make Up For Ever, and Sephora Collection all make some excellent foundations in deep shades (with neutral undertones, which is important for very deep skin!).

It’s also important to know which jobs are best suited for makeup, which are best suited for skincare, and which are best suited for surgery. It sounds flippant, but I’m serious. Take the under-eye area, for example. Concealer can hide dark circles, but it will not hide wrinkles. Wrinkles are a natural part of aging, but they are a texture issue that can be diminished with a good anti-aging eye cream. Adding concealer adds an extra layer of texture; this often means that the cost of hiding your dark circles is emphasizing your wrinkles. This is unfortunate, but you have to prioritize. Conversely, if you find that you’ve lost the natural fullness under the eye, and your eyes appear sunken, the only thing that can fix that is a needle full o’ filler.

On a similar note, let’s talk acne. Makeup can cover the redness or darkness of a pimple, but it won’t smooth it over. Only time and spot treatments can help with that. Finally – for this bit at least – it’s important to acknowledge the limitations of contouring. You can contour your nose to create the illusion of a slimmer nose, but your nose is the size it is and nothing but surgery can change that. I think it’s also important to question why you value a small nose in the first place (*cough* perhaps it’s a legacy of imperialism and racism *cough*).

It’s also important to know your skin and be realistic about it. If you are 40 years old, your skin won’t look like mine even if you wear the same foundation I do because I’m 22 with oily skin. That isn’t to say that 40 year old skin can’t look or be beautiful, because it absolutely is and can! It’s just important to know that yours will look different from mine, and a foundation can’t change that.

And for the love of God, please wash and moisturize your face regularly.

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  • Vanessa

    I’m sensing you’re riled up… 🙂
    Yes, all true. I’m sure the crazy unrealistic cosmetic advertisements play a big role.
    Brown and dark skin tones are beautiful!

    • amandarobots

      GIRL I am. 🙂 Thanks for reading!