When it comes to women of color, representation in cosmetics brand marketing typically falls flat. It can become disheartening for women of color to discover that a popular lipstick pictured on a fair skinned model looks completely different on brown skin. This frustration is often voiced on social media.
Its really annoying how makeup companies still only use mostly white models 😐. Lipstick looks completely different based on skin color.
— Beauty in Color 🎄 (@PoCBeauty) September 25, 2015
While some brands are trying to incorporate swatches that include all skin tones, the majority of the major are still behind, leaving women to continue to play the guessing game when it comes to their beauty buys.
We asked Ofunne to give us an inside look behind Cocoa Swatches and why she decided to craft the app.
How did you come up with the idea for Cocoa Swatches?
O: With the growing popularity of hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite, and #PrettyLipsPeriod, it’s no secret that diversity in the media is still in issue. This unfortunate trend is especially pervasive in the beauty industry, which has history of promoting an idea of beauty centered around whiteness.
In 2016, these ideals still manifest in a myriad of ways. Most traditional beauty advertisements utilize women with lighter complexions and the same rings true for the new wave of influencer based marketing that has conquered the beauty market. Beauty influencers on social media sites like YouTube and Instagram have developed relationships with beauty brands that allow the influencers to provide their followers with the scoop on the latest makeup products. According to a study by Pixability, “YouTube vloggers, haul girls, and other beauty content creators control 97% of conversations around beauty and brands on YouTube.”
So what’s the real issue here?
Makeup products are often swatched by influencers with lighter skin tones, coupled with the official advertisements and commercials that follow that only feature white or light skinned cover models. This means that most sneak peeks of color cosmetics like lipsticks, eyeshadows, and foundation are most likely to be shown from a white gaze.
Enter Cocoa Swatches. When I started the Instagram page, I just wanted to see makeup products swatches on someone who looked like me.
After a number of disappointing purchases, where I ultimately guessed completely wrong about how a product would look on me, I thought to myself, I wish there was a resource that allowed me to see swatches of the latest makeup products on darker complexions.
Soon enough Cocoa Swatches was born. It has now become much more than just your average Instagram page.
How does Cocoa Swatches work?
O: Official Description:
“DISCOVER new and old makeup products through the CS swatch and review system.
LEARN makeup tips and tricks from makeup experts we love, who have paved the way in creating great content for underrepresented complexions.
COMPARE and contrast similarly marketed products and find the best one for you.
SEARCH through Instagram posts as well as new swatches in app. You’ll never have to endlessly scroll down your IG feed again!
The Cocoa Swatches app is the makeup bestie you can carry in your pocket. It will help you make informed makeup purchases and let you in on whats really good with the makeup industry.”
With the recent addition of its website and the mobile app, Cocoa Swatches is a platform showcasing original and curated content that serves as a source of inspiration and information for beauty enthusiasts, with a strong focus on complexions that are underrepresented in from the beauty industry. Through its high quality content and careful curation, Cocoa Swatches is one of the few resources dedicated to providing the latest makeup swatches on various complexions.
The Cocoa Swatches app is created to optimize the makeup shopping experience and help people make more informed purchasing decisions through swatch photos. Users can search through original content and content curated through Instagram to look for product swatches and reviews. We try to cover makeup products as soon as they come out so we can give our community high quality photos and swatches before they decide to buy. Topical content is important but so are tried and true favorites that people may not know about or be aware of.
In addition, the app also aims to give respect and credit to the numerous content creators of color that are constantly creating tutorials and makeup inspiration for their audiences.
Any upcoming plans/collabs for Cocoa Swatches?
O: With the addition of the Cocoa Pick feature within the app, we have collaborated with a number of beauty influencers in order to share their favorite beauty products (in the form of a swatch) with our community. In the future, we hope to partner with more brands to add more product swatches/reviews to the Cocoa Swatches directory.