This Major Cosmetics Label Says They Can’t Control The Fact That Most Black Women Can’t Test Their New Foundation

When NYX Cosmetics revealed they were releasing a new total coverage foundation I jumped for joy. I have been a long-time supporter of this brand. Back when most drugstore brand cosmetics companies failed to produce products that were high quality and pigmented enough to show up on dark skin, NYX came through in a clutch. The brand consistently produces high quality products at affordable rates. To say I love this brand would be an understatement.

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That’s why as soon as I heard that the cosmetics retailer, Ulta Beauty, had testers of the new Total Drop Foundation, I headed straight to my local store. Unfortunately, this is what I found:

To be fair, I didn’t expect that they’d have every single shade available for testing. There are 24 shades in total, and the NYX Website has a shade-finder allowing you to see which shade might work best for you. Here’s  a glimpse of the darker shades:

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But here’s my thing: I have NEVER been able to shade-match based on online pictures. I have spent more money than I care to admit trying to test out foundations online. It just doesn’t work for me, and I imagine it may not work for other women as well. So then I began to ask myself: Who is to blame, here? NYX or Ulta Beauty? Who decided, that of the 6 shades available for testing, darker shades should be excluded?

So  I decided to do some research. I put a call out in my makeup group of almost 4,000 black women who love makeup, and many reported seeing the same display in their Ulta stores all over the country.  I then  posted the video to my facebook fan page, and some of my followers reported the same. One woman stated:


So I tweeted my video to both Ulta and NYX Cosmetics. Both brands asked me to email them, and both brands provided the following responses to my inquiry about excluding most black women from being able to test their new foundation. Here are the responses I received:

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I didn’t bother responding to the Ulta Rep.

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To which I replied:

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NYX didn’t follow up with a response, and clearly, their response was better than what I got from Ulta, but it was still disappointing. I guess I was hoping for something along the lines of, “You’r right, and we’re making every effort to make more shades available on the ground.” To simply dismiss it as being out of their control feels like a cop out.

And I know what you’re thinking: Buy black. And I do! I have a listing of black-owned cosmetics companies we can and should support HERE. I’ve also listed 30 cosmetics companies that make foundation for dark skin HERE. The issue, for me, is that we are being denied a shopping experience being granted to women with lighter skin. We continue to buy, showing that we are here. and yet when decisions are being made about who can test the product, we’re being left out.

This isn’t new, by the way. Cosmetics companies are notorious for not releasing the darker shades along with the lighter shades. Just last year, Anastasia Beverly Hills released their stick foundation with a wide array of colors for black women.

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The problem? I went to about 5 different stores and not one had the darker shades available for testing. I eventually ordered a shade on their website, and as expected, the color didn’t match.

Cosmetics companies have come a long way, they have, but these kinds of decisions continue to highlight how much more work needs to be done. Here’s hoping that soon we’ll see more black-owned brands in major retailers.

Share your thoughts below!

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  1. Love your blog! As a previous retail worker that has put together promo’ s for companies whether it is make up or household cleaners. It is definitely the Company and not the retailers that decides which product is placed on the Promo.

      1. I actually work for Ulta and I can confirm that Nyx ships testers directly to the retailers, so we have zero control over what we can feature. We are actually not allowed to make testers for any drug store brands, we can only feature what they send us. The generic response from the customer service rep is disappointing, but it really is out of our control.

        1. What you’re saying contradicts what NYX said. NYX said they had nothing to do with the samples ULTA put out. What you’re saying is NYX DOES have control, which isn’t what they said.

          1. Hello Lisa! I am here to confirm what has already been said. I used to work for a field merchandising company. I was the vendor that went into various retailers and set up merchandising displays and samples. I can tell you that whether a company sends the displays for retailer to set up or sends a vendor (me) in to set it up, the merchandise is already sent to the retailer from the company with product preselected for the retailer with instructions how they want their product displayed in that retailer. The company decides, not the retailer. In the case where a vendor (me) comes in, what happens is the display is sent to the retailer then I and sent the planograms and I go in to he retailer, locate the display shipment and build the display to very exact specifications. When I say exact, I mean even down to to the exact placement of a small sticker on the display. I then take photos and upload them to ensure that the display was built and filled to the COMPANY’s specification, not the retailer’s. NYX cosmetics lied to you.

          2. I second Pamela, Nyx either lied to you or the customer service rep that responded didn’t really know what they were talking about. They are definitely 100% in control of the testers available in our retail locations. Hope this helps!

  2. I have walked into Ulta in Corona, CA and have felt as though I didn’t belong there. One rep mad eye contact with me and didn’t even ask if I need help. So I don’t shop at Ulta. Ulta’ s response is just a generic customer service quote that they use all the time. I loved NYX products but I’m disappointed in the way they handled this matter.

  3. Wow. I am so disappointed in Nyx’s response. I expected Ulta’s response, but Nyx’s is really surprising

  4. It’s sad that still in 2017 makeup companies exclude a whole segment of their consumers and then complain that women with darker skin don’t buy makeup even though they refuse to adequately stock stores. I call bull!

  5. I had the same issue today at the store in Mesquite TX. The display there looked the same as in your video. It’s looks like they worked together to create a display with certain shades from NYC for Ulta.

    1. Hi Malinkca,

      I’m in Mesquite too, and I rarely go in that store. I’ve never found the staff to be helpful or accommodating. I usually go to the one on 75 and Park. They at least say hello when you walk in.

  6. Ciao Lisa buongiorno dalla Italia!!!! Sono una tua amiratrice…mi dispiace per questo accaduto!!! Io sono Brasiliana e vivo in italia da 20 anni e per me è dificile trovare prodotti per mio colore e questo mi rende triste, ormai sono abituata!!! Ma diciamo pure che non ne che existe solo la pele bianca…infine hai fatto bene e spero col cuore che possono risolvere presto!!! Un abbraccio

  7. I don’t understand why brands don’t send retailers as testers what they send muas/influencers who have a lot of followers? I see influencers getting the entire shade line of foundation from companies. So why not send that shade range for retailers to use as testers? I mean invest that at the stores and maybe not influencers? I know they would try to use money as a reason for that. It would be put to better use at retailers than a influencer who will simply give away or trash the shades they can’t use.

  8. I too am disappointed by Ulta but especiaaly by NYX. Until now they have been one of my favorite cosmetic companies based on the quality and affordability of their products. However their message to me as a dark skin woman is clear and I have some decisions to make about where I spend my dollars. NYX and Ulta you don’t recognize me and the thousands of black women like me then I can’t continue to support you with my money!! Good bye to you both!!! I am thoroughly dissapointed in you both! Lisa, thanks for sharing this information

  9. Never shopped at Ulta and after this incident, most likely will not. I do shop at sephora, and notice they showcase a varied display for most of their make-up ( foundation) products; the sales assistants are very helpful. I’ve always had a pleasant experience and I have been shopping there for nearly ten years. Just a shame we are going through this nonsense at this stage of the make-up game.

  10. Thanks for your blog. Unfortunately I’m not surprised. I’ve stopped being disappointed in the way companies treat us. I’ve decided to basically take my money elsewhere. I do not patronize companies that disrespect me. Sometimes it’s extra work to find the items that I need but in the end it’s worth it to me. Businesses only understand one thing, and it’s green. If we stopped buying foundation, lipsticks etc. I’d bet they would change their tune.

  11. I’ve always had an issue with finding shades that match my dark complexion. These stores, and many of these brands are catering to a particular type. The praised (commercially and otherwise) fair/white skinned woman, as we know is seen as the epitome of beauty – mainstream. It’s sometimes as if they feel their products will be “cheapened” or garner less interest if they have to also feature dark tones. I mean, our money spends too! LOL! Their loss.

  12. Done with Ulta and Nyx. So sick of color matching online, or not being represented at all. They won’t get 1 dollar more of my money.

  13. I understand how NYX has no control over Ulta. NYX has stores opening in LA, I’ve seen 2 so far in Glendale Galleria and Westwood in Sherman Oaks. I would love to try this line and I know there will be samples available for color matching.

  14. So tactful and well put. I really appreciate you speaking up and calling attention so that our options as black women will one day get better.

  15. Thank you so much for posting this blog post! While I am a little disappointed in NYX nor Ulta finding a problem with the display, I’m glad you’re giving the situation exposure, so we as women of color know not to support companies that don’t care about our dollar power.

  16. Came across your post. Growing up I did not have access to makeup, now as an older adult I am trying to learn some basics and have been watching all sorts of videos. Coming into this new world I always liked NYX because of the fun colors and prices. Seeing this though disappoints me. I am PALE, no where near the struggle of a woman of color but I know the importance of being able to try a foundation. There is no need for these large companies to exclude people the way they do. I vote with my money and demand they do better.

  17. It’s disgraceful to know that so many companies continue to ignore, disrespect and condescend to Black women, whether at the display counter, through biased media campaigns, and snotty, rude “customer service.”

    A hefty portion of the revenue they collect comes from Black women; but, thankfully, that is changing. And as more and more of them out themselves as ignorant, dismissive, low-key colorists, the more Black women will seek out inclusive, Black-owned brands.

    The lackluster, thoughtless comments sent fron the companies is not a surprise.

    I stopped buying from Ulta many moons ago; the non-Black employees inside various store locations were not very welcoming nor helpful toward Black customers. And NYX sent you the most transparent, dishonest reply ever.

    The undertones of their deeper shades are always off, anyway… always too red or with a beige or gray tint to it.

    I won’t be supporting NYX ever again. Considering there are tons of better options on the market, it’s no real loss.

  18. Wow this is sad. This is an opportunity for us as black women to open our on version of Ulta and have all shades of cosmetic foundation available for testing.

  19. That’s really sad, particularly how the total essence and dynamics of people of color is being left out in this industry. I’m slowing growing in my interest for makeup, but to see a running issue in this country even pervade the cosmetic industry is truly disappointing.

  20. Everyone is disappointed in how this situation was handled by both companies, my question then is why do you continue to support their businesses? If this had been a black owned organization that provided such shoddy service we would never go back we wouldn’t give them the time of day and we would let all of our friends and family know not to shop there, why aren’t we doing the same with companies like these. It is time to shop black and hopefully by investing in our own businesses they can finally move into the mainstream and provide the competition that these big businesses need when dealing with us.

  21. Pingback: The Insidious Racism of Drugstore Beauty - BioQt
  22. Lisa, those responses were bogus! I have to admit I was quite shocked this summer to learn that Lancome has stepped their game up at the department store beauty counters (maybe in light of recent events surrounding our limited color choices) and are putting out the whole spectrum of colors for people to test. It’s a shame that drugstores even have the choice to limit colors. Brands should have the say in how their products are presented at the retail level and take ownership when it’s not done right. NYX is one of my fav’s but I’m slowly transitioning to buying from more black-owned lines. Who has the time to keep fighting with these brands?

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