“It Blew My Mind”: A POC Founder on Underrepresentation in the Beauty Industry


Like dating, it truly feels like being in a one-sided relationship, where the love isn’t equal.

I realised I was a woman of colour who loved makeup, supported brands through purchasing their products, talked about these products to my friends creating powerful word-of-mouth — all while simultaneously not getting the same support back from the very same industry.

As a Pakistani, born in Los Angeles, raised in Dubai, U.A.E., I grew up very culturally aware, so I was even more sensitive to the fact that I hardly saw South Asians in mainstream beauty campaigns.

More importantly, our undertones are often not accurately represented in the product formulations. As a person of colour, I can attest that you begin to feel less valuable to the industry compared to consumers of other demographics — and that is a sentiment I would not wish on anyone. 

After speaking with other friends of colour, I realised how many people felt genuinely excluded from the beauty industry. For example, some darker-skinned women in the modelling industry claimed they packed their own makeup for fashion shows because makeup artists backstage didn’t have the right products for their complexion in their kits.

Why should one demographic feel it is their responsibility to do extra due diligence while someone else can arrive at a location having full faith that they will be taken care of? That idea started to really blow my mind.

Upon various dialogues amongst my sisters and our peer groups, I realised that inclusivity did not just end at women of colour. What about other genders who wear makeup and cosmetics products but do not feel welcomed by brands? What does it truly mean to be inclusive?

On a personal note, I remember asking a beauty assistant to help me find a lovely nude lipstick in a retail store, and she handed me a beige-tone lipstick. The craziest part is that, for a moment, I was about to start applying the beige shade on my lips before I realised — I’ve also been conditioned.

Conditioned to think that ‘nude’ is just beige, rather than confidently correct the beauty assistant on what my nude is – which would probably be closer to a deep rose lip shade. You can imagine how ridiculous that beige shade looked on my naturally purplish-pink lips. 

The problem is how much we don’t even realise we have subconsciously accepted past beauty norms and that we can change the landscape for future beauty consumers. My sisters and I are so proud to have launched our own authentically inclusive makeup brand CTZN Cosmetics with the beauty industry’s most comprehensive nude lip collection.

Our Nudiversal lip duo range has 25 shades of nude, spanning from a warm beige shade to a fudge brown with cool undertones. You may find this deeper shade with another brand, but they will call it a ‘dark brown lipstick’ whereas CTZN recognizes it as a ‘nude’.

Related Posts
Latest Beauty
The End.

The next story, coming up!