When it comes to the beauty industry, people of color are typically excluded from the cosmetic conversation. Makeup swatches on a brands advertisements are usually featured on white and paler models, making it arduous for those of darker complexions to know whether a lipstick or foundation shade would be complimentary. Let’s be honest; a red lipstick isn’t actually universal. The pigmentation of your lips, your undertones and the of shade our skin can affect the way makeup looks on each individual.

Enter Cocoa Swatches: A new beauty app that’s creating a lot of buzz for its efforts in facilitating the process of purchasing makeup for black women. Creator Ofunne Amaka, writes on her personal website, “It’s no secret that the beauty world has a problem with diversity. In addition to darker complexions being underrepresented in advertisements, they are also often ignored in product development.”

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Photo: Instagram @cocoaswatches

Amaka touches on an ongoing issue, most recently confronted by supermodel, Nykhor Paul. The Sudanese beauty wrote an unapologetic critique of the beauty and fashion industries last summer on her Instagram, where she states, “Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional show when all the other white girls don’t have to do anything but show up wtf.” She then goes on to list the few brands that actually have taken steps toward beauty equality, “Don’t try to make me feel bad because I am blue black, it’s 2015, go to Mac, Bobbi Brown, Makeup Forever, Iman Cosmetics, Black Opal, even Lancôme and Clinique.”

By and large, most mainstream beauty brands don’t offer a decent gradient of shades for women of color. Contrarily, white women are consistently catered to, so it shouldn’t be a rarity for a black woman to find a shade beyond ‘deep tan.’ The problematic, exclusivity of the beauty industry served as the incentive for Amaka to launch her startup, stating, “Its really infuriating when a new foundation or concealer comes out and there is only one dark shade meant to encompass all dark complexions.”

As of now, the app’s Instagram account is nearing 30k followers, rightfully gaining popularity for it’s on-point reviews and swatches. The mobile app allows users to search for a product, old or new, through the Cocoa Swatches review system. At a glance, the Instagram has all cosmetic queries covered; from foundation swatches to eyeshadow pigments and lipsticks galore. The apps features also include makeup tips from industry experts.

The greatest part? It’s free and currently available on iPhone, iPad and Android. If you’re just as frustrated by the lack of diversity offered by the industry, check out the app and follow the CS instagram to find swatches akin to your skin.


-by Yasmine Rimawi