The rise in beauty brands’ extensive shade ranges has shown that inclusive product launches aren’t a trend, but crucially important for validating a person’s identity. While there’s still room to improve shade and undertone selection, Black and brown people are taking matters into their own hands to help POC feel represented. Take UOMA Beauty, which just launched at Ulta, as an example. UOMA is a newly released brand offering makeup to include people of color in a way that brings African culture to the forefront.
Uoma, pronounced “OMA,” means "beautiful" in Igbo, the native language from South-Eastern Nigeria where the brand’s founder and Creative Director Sharon Chuter was born. According to a press release from UOMA, the brand’s entire line features products with high-impact pigments and huge color payoff for even the deepest skin tones. Plus, the collection itself pays homage to Africa’s heritage in its packaging, product names, and the diverse complexions of the continent’s people.
Chuter tells Bustle she regards UOMA as an "Afropolitan" makeup brand, which she explains is the culture that connects people with Afro roots. "The first thing to understand about the ‘Afro’ is that Africa is the most racially diverse continent on the planet," Chuter says. "You go all the way to South Africa where you have people of every color who are Caucasian, in Egypt you have beautiful Arabs, go into West Africa you’ll find brown people, and go to South Sudan, you’ll find people who are of the deep dark shades."
"Afropolitan is like this merge, this celebration of everything that’s ‘Afro’ all the way from the bottom of Africa to America to Haiti to Jamaica to Cuba to even the UK," Chuter says. "UOMA’s place is where you’ll find a lot of ‘Afro’ origins."
To ensure her brand was inclusive of all those Afro identities, the total lineup of products includes 51 shades of its hydrating Say What?! foundation, 17 shades of “Stay Woke” concealer 16 colorful hues of the Badass Icon matte lipstick, eight shades of Boss Gloss, the "Blackety Black" water resistant Afro.Dis.iac liquid eyeliner, five shades of its Double Take highlighter and contour stick, and three Black Magic eyeshadow palettes with 10 shades in each.
Everything in the collection retails between $18 and $44 and are available as of April 26 at UOMABeauty.com and Ulta.com. The full line will be shoppable in Ulta stores starting May 5.
Finding your UOMA foundation shade is made easier since the"Say What foundations are grouped into skin families, known as “Skin Kin” — and the names will give shoppers life. The line includes Black Pearl for the deep brown shades, Brown Sugar for the lighter brown shades, Bronze Venus for rich tan skin, Honey Honey for olive skin, Fair Lady for fair skin, and White Pearl for very fair skin.
“It doesn’t make sense if people have different skin and skin has different needs to keep doing what everybody’s doing right now, which is use the same formula and rolling in new shades,” Chuter tells Bustle. “What we wanted to do is create custom formulas to cater to each skin family.”
While there are 51 shades and six formulas, the ratio of shades to Skin Kin differ.
"Once we built [the six formulas] we took a look at what are the colors represented in that skin family? What are the undertones in that skin family? And that’s why the difference in family (or Skin Kin) you see have different shades. So White Pearl has six shades where Brown Sugar has 12 because we have the most variation in skin color in Brown Sugar, and when we pulled it together, we got 51," Chuter explains.
The Say What foundation retails for $29 and addresses the needs of multiple skin concerns from hypersensitivity and redness for lighter skin tones to hyperpigmentation and dullness for darker shades. The complexion product comes equipped with six different formulas infused with skin care benefits for each Skin Kin category while all of them concentrate on delivering a beautiful soft matte finish and healthy hydrated skin using berry extract.
UOMA Beauty is also offering up its Stay Woke concealer to compliment the foundation which come in 17 shades. The concealer is full coverage, long-wearing but lightweight. These babies retail for $25.
In addition to the complexion products offered, the brand has plenty of other color cosmetics in stock. You can turn into a gloss boss with the beauty brand’s Boss Glosses, which come in high pigmented warm red, fuchsia, purple, and mauve shades. Each of these will set fans back $22.
Similar warm shades of the gloss can be found in UOMA’s $24 Badass Icon matte lipstick which is infused with Wild Mango butter for plush soft lips. A product so aptly-named includes shades after icons like Aretha Franklin, Maya Angelou, Whitney Houston, Sade, Eartha Kitt, and Chaka Khan.
Fans of this brand can also buy the $40 Double Take double-sided contour and highlighter stick. The sticks have antioxidant properties and are offered in the shades Black Pearl, Bronze Venus, Brown Sugar, Fair Lady, Honey Honey, and White Pearl.
There are three Black Magic eyeshadow palettes in this collection which the press release says are inspired by female goddesses. Each palette has its own personality with a mix of warm tones like Eja, Mother, and Feminist in the Poise palette (bottom right) and cool tones like Storm in the Savage palette (top) and Lush in the Allure palette (bottom left). Fans can pick up one of the Black Magic eyeshadow palettes for $44.
The last piece in the collection is UOMA’s felt tip Afro.Dis.Iac eyeliner with Cleopatra Ink. The liner leaves a bold black finish and is also water-resistant for those teary-eyed days.
Chuter’s hope for the beauty industry as far as inclusivity goes is that brands break the shade cycle. The UOMA founder advises people to "take a look beyond."
"Right now, we’re all really stuck in the world of shades,” Chuter says. “Take a step back and actually think about this. Think about that person, not just research. If you surround yourself with diverse people, honey, you wouldn’t have to be doing all this kind of research to get the truth because these people are your best kind of research. This is their whole life. Nobody can tell you better about being a woman of color than a woman of color."
More Black and brown-owned brands are sprouting onto the market for the sake of representative makeup. The movement, and this entire collection, just goes to show that people of color who are behind the scenes have the knowledge to push authentically inclusive products into the hands of beauty lovers in all shades and undertones.
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