By including the rarely used ultramarine blue pigment in thier formulations, cosmetics chemist Balanda Atis and her team have created right-toned foundations for dark complected women of color.
Commonly, products intended to match deep skin tones are too red or too dull, or simply too pale, Atis explains in this month’s Fast Company magazine. She’s profiled in a piece by Elizabeth Segran for her accomplishments at L’Oréal as well as for her determination to formulate quality products for women of color.
Beyond the lab
She “grew up in a Haitian community in East Orange, New Jersey. Over the years, she saw friends and family struggle to find makeup that looked good on their skin,” writes Segran.
And nearly 10 years back when none of the company’s latest foundations were dark enough for her own skin, Atis took up the challenge to develop the product herself. It was, until recently, a side line to her work in the mascara lab.
While Atis had plenty of anecdotal information to begin with, she collected data on skin tones from women across the States. “Atis had to think creatively when she needed resources that weren’t immediately available. To gather information about skin tones from a large sample of women around the country, she had her team tag along on L’Oréal’s road shows and mall tours to collect this data,” reports Segran.
Just the beginning
"What Balanda started is still changing the game today," Malena Higuera, senior vice president of marketing at L’Oréal Paris told Segran. "We’re using these innovations to build first-to-market breakthroughs." Thus far the company has created over 30 new product shades for brands at every tier of business.
The company’s Women of Color Lab in Clark, New Jersey is an expansion of Atis’s original team. And the scientists are striving now “to make sure that women in each of the 140 countries where L’Oréal products are available can find makeup that matches the texture and color of their skin,” reports Segran.
Atis explains, "We’re always looking at new colorants and other raw materials. We want to demonstrate that we can address the needs of women of color on a global scale through scientific innovation."