The Science of Makeup

BALANDA ATIS

((Banner: The Science of Makeup))

(Executive Producer: Marsha James))

((Camera: Kaveh Rezaei))

((Map: Clark, New Jersey))

((BELANDA ATIS, Beauty Maker & Scientist; Manager, Women of Color Lab, L’Oreal USA))

I am so fortunate to be a scientist because in order for you to have beauty, you need to have science. In order for beauty to exist, science is at the core of that. I grew up in a very interesting Haitian community. Coming from a Haitian family, you’re either a doctor, a nurse, or something in the medical field.

I started at L’Oreal in 1999. I started off as a chemist working on mascaras, a great opportunity to learn and to go even further into cosmetics. Historically, women of color have been challenged on finding foundation shades. My mission in makeup is to make sure that women are no longer challenged.

So, when we had the opportunity to embrace this challenge, we took it, I guess, by the horns, and created a strategy to fix the problem. So, in order for us to understand the colors that make up the skin, we had to use, basically, a camera. And this camera, instead of giving us image, gives us numbers and those numbers translates to the color and the skins.

We had the opportunity to travel across the U.S., to different regions of the U.S., as well as internationally, such as South Africa, to gather skin tone measurements to make sure that the shades that we were creating were suitable for a large range of skin tones.

I think one of the great aha! moments that we had in taking the skin tone measurements and understanding the colors that make up the skin, is that women don’t necessarily go blacker. They tend to go deeper, deeper in color. So, what we found is that you can use a really special colorant, called ultramarine blue. And ultramarine blue is a truly clean, vivid, bright, rich color that allows you to go deeper, but as you go deeper, you’re still able to have a very natural color to the skin.

We really felt a sense of satisfaction. We felt complete in a sense, because we knew that we had found something that would allow us to give this natural look that so many women were looking for.

If I were stranded on a deserted island, I need lip gloss. I need for my lips to have a beautiful layer of protection and moisture. That is my go-to. If I have to have anything in the world, it’s lip gloss. What makes me smile is knowing that I’m putting a smile onto someone else’s face.

When I get a sense of the women that I touch, and hearing feedback from them, and hearing how the work that we’re doing impacts others in a positive way, it’s what gets me up in the morning, it’s what drives me, it’s what I find to be the best thing of my day.

Source: Voice of America

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