Viewing Race in Makeup

Source: Google Image Search (most popular images for each search term)

This composite represents the most popular images in a Google search for branding of the lightest makeup color (Ivory) to the darkest (True Ebony) in CoverGirl’s TRUBlend Liquid Makeup and Queen Collection Natural Hue Liquid Makeup. Initial research shows that CoverGirl’s branding mirrors that of other makeup companies with foundation options for both Caucasians and people of color. CoverGirl was chosen as the spectrum because it is the only top 10 bestselling drugstore cosmetic line to offer a dedicated brand for people of color.

Each row of foundation names may be read right to left:
From TRUBlend
Ivory, Classic Ivory, Natural Ivory, Creamy Natural, Buff Beige, Classic Beige
Medium Light, Natural Beige, Warm Beige, Creamy Beige, Soft Honey, Classic Tan
Tawny, Toasted Almond, Soft Sable

From the Queen Collection
Rich Sand, Amber Glow, Classic Bronze, Almond Glow, Toffee, Golden Honey
Warm Caramel, Soft Copper, Sheer Espresso, Spicy Brown, Rich Mink, True Ebony

What conclusions can we draw from these observations?

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  • Autumn

    Love this–the paucity of options for women of color and biracial women is frequently lamented, but to see it laid out like this is sort of startling, especially for women who haven’t had to deal with this directly because they fall on the fairer end of the color spectrum. (I know this was from last week but since I just found your blog I included it in this week’s roundup since, hell, it’s new to me. That counts, right?)

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  • Laura Connell

    Language is powerful and influences our view of the world. The fact that the shades for Caucasian skin are labelled “true” and darker tones become “tan” and then go into descriptions of food (!) would imply that white is the norm and darker is not the norm but exotic or different. I don’t have a “tan”, this is my skin colour but I suspect I would have to wear the one called “tan”. It just implies that white is the standard and everything else is different.

    • Courtney

      MMMMMMMMMMMM HMMMMMMMM My thoughts EXACTLY. I think some of it is that there’s a lack of generic branding amongst top selling drug store brands for non-white skin. That’s part of the problem. But then another huge part is the difference in naming. It’s such a complex issue!

  • Bella Q

    That I as a Latina taste better.


    Surprisingly the first thing I noticed was how UNinventive BOTH were, in spite of the “brown” folks having more poetic aka edible and referencing a natural resource. Both are a lotta hooey, as neither accurately describe the actual color of the foundation.

    Oh, now I am WAITING for your interpretation- give ’em a one-two pow, Courtney!

    • Courtney


      I’ll have to put my 2 cents in next week. I have A LOT to say that I’ve been holding back. I’m glad it seems like a lot of people were on the same page as me.

  • Erika

    Huh! Interesting. If Chelsea is insinuating they should just number their products versus name them odd adjectives, I am right with her.

    • Courtney

      It’s such an odd thing to realize what most popularly comes up for the names of foundation for diverse people.

  • Chelsea Rae

    Wow! Ir’s crazy how the names don’t really correlate with the color, and at times the names darker shades are actually lighter than names of the lighter shades. I’m sticking to my number idea. Haha.

    I hope CoverGirl reads this, and sees how awkward their branding is.

    • Courtney

      Amen! I agree about numbering and taking a page out of MAC’s book. (not a mac book. lol)