For Years, I Couldn't Buy Foundation Because of My Skin Tone. That Ends Now.

Shanthi and her mumShanthi and her mum

I grew up the only brown girl in my primary school and one of a rare few in my high school.

As a teenager, I never wore makeup. Not because I didn't want to, but because makeup didn't exist for people who looked like me. 

I still recall peeking into my mother's bathroom cabinet and seeing one lonely bottle of beige-coloured foundation sitting on the shelf. It was so far from matching her skin tone in every way possible, and even further from mine.

A cosmetics company had convinced her it would match her brown skin perfectly. The bottle was full and hadn't been used.

That morning before school, I made a decision. I was going to dab some of that foundation under my eyes to cover up my dark circles like I’d seen women do in magazines.

But when I got to class, I remember so vividly being mocked by a few of the boys in my year level. Rather than hiding the very thing I felt self-conscious about, the foundation had turned my skin ashy and grey. 

After that experience, I never touched foundation again. Not until a decade later in my mid-twenties when I was working as the Marketing Manager at Adore Beauty.

Makeup should make you feel good. It shouldn't make you feel excluded or invisible. Or as I felt as a teenager, like an outsider who didn’t belong.

So, in 2017, I decided to write an email to my boss, Adore Beauty’s founder Kate Morris. 

In that email, I wrote about the struggle of not seeing myself in the world I was walking through. Not in magazines, TV ads or in the makeup section of online beauty retailers.

I also shared how I found it challenging that I couldn't shop for foundation or concealer on our website. Simply because we didn't sell my shade.

One of the company's core values is doing the right thing, so after receiving my email, we made it our mission to ensure people of colour were catered to when buying and selling complexion products. And what a mission it’s been so far.

Our first step at Adore was ensuring we could sell all foundation and concealer shades made available to Australia. A little-known fact about the beauty industry is each market (e.g. the US, UK and Asia-Pacific, which Australia is a part of) is only given access to product shades deemed ‘suitable’ for its population.

And as we quickly learnt, in Australia, that meant deeper shades were often excluded. 

I realised the world’s perception of our market was - and still is - skewed towards an Anglo-Celtic image. And those who identify as Black, Indigenous and a person of colour? We’re being excluded from this picture.

This has been our biggest challenge; to rebuild an accurate picture of what Australians look like.

What Is Global Shades?

Global Shades is a four-year long project calling for inclusivity in the beauty industry through acquiring all globally available complexion shades.

This includes shades that are traditionally only sold in the US, the UK and other countries where people of colour are identified as part of the population.

You can hear more about Global Shades by watching this YouTube video below titled 'An Open Letter to All Australians'.

As an Australian beauty retailer, we know we aren’t perfect and we have very much been a part of the problem. But if we don’t make steps to be better, we aren’t helping the situation.

I believe we can work together and ignite genuine change to enable all Australians to have equal access to foundations and concealers, regardless of their skin tone.

We have the power to redefine what Australia looks like.

What we look like. And that time is now.

So, What's My Global Shades Foundation?

Shanthi Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk ReviewShanthi Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Review

What: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation - A cult foundation known for its weightless feel and buildable medium coverage that delivers a radiant, ‘your skin but better’ finish.

Why I love it:

There’s a reason I always come back to good old Luminous Silk. The lightweight fluid texture feels hydrating and blends seamlessly into my skin, without making me look oily.

Shade #9 is the perfect hue for my skin tone. It suits my warm, yellow undertone perfectly and doesn't leave my skin looking red or orange. I always thought Luminous Silk was for dry skin types, but this product enhances my combination skin in the most natural of ways.

Global ShadesGlobal Shades

If you believe beauty in Australia should include everyone, sign our Global Shades digital petition today. Show your support by joining us at globalshades.org, and share your story or this YouTube video using the hashtag #StockAllShades.

Together, let’s commit to elevating the voices of Black, Indigenous and people of colour.

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