When Youtube Beauty Vlogger Nikkie Tutorials posted the viral video The Power of Makeup in response to makeup-shaming, the internet lit up. Those in the beauty community have always known of its existence, but Nikkie was the first to really put the idea of makeup-shaming on the map. While ridiculing women for wearing makeup is certainly universal, the negativity and the backlash against black women who wear makeup seems to address three major areas of concern:

  • The use of makeup to seemingly lighten the skin
  • Lipstick shades being inappropriate for a woman’s complexion.
  • The use of makeup to “trick” a man.

The ever-trending #takeherswimming hashtag often speaks to these concerns.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 12.11.36 PM
Youtube Vlogger MakeupD0ll

The popular Gossip site, Bossip, even has what they’ve labeled a makeup sorcery guide which include images like this:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 12.04.42 PM

When black women who suffer from hyperpigmentation use makeup to even their skin tone, they are often accused of both trying to appear light-skinned, and also fooling their would-be suitors:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.55.00 AM

Black women are also often made to feel restricted with what’s appropriate for their complexion. When Essence posted a photo of black women wearing red lipstick on their facebook page a few years ago, the comments were overwhelmingly in reference to the darker-skinned woman featured in the collage:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 12.57.24 PM

“Take that red lipstick off all black people can’t wear this for real”

 “Everybody can’t wear RED lipstick, baby u should have tried Wine,”

“Please stop wearing red lipstick when your complexion is very dark.  Uh!”

The question then is, why are black women not afforded the same freedom with wearing makeup as our white counterparts? Why is our use of makeup tied to us wanting to appear more white, or trying to land a man? Futhermore, why does there exist a stigma against dark-skinned women wearing brightly colored lipsticks?

Here’s what some of  makeup-loving BGLH Editors had to say:

Wearing makeup makes me feel glamorous. In fact, that’s what’s always attracted me to it. As a little girl, I used to watch the women in my family powder their face, apply lipstick, and head out for the evening. I attended a lot of social events as a child and seeing the women look so glam and fab from head to toe, made me fall in love with makeup. I fell in love with the entire package. I’ll always associate makeup with glamour – gives me that Golden Era, Old Hollywood feel.


I’ve always been into makeup, but becoming a beauty and fashion blogger and youtube content creator has taken my obsession and turned it into a business venture. To be honest, I don’t wear makeup that often, but when I do it’s a full face, just the way I like it. When I put on a set of full glam eyelashes and a super bright pink lipstick, I am in my glory. As a dark-skinned woman of color, I grew up hearing about how I could only wear certain shades or how I shouldn’t wear too much, so wearing it now is kind of my comeback. I even post weekly swatch videos on my channel showcasing pretty much every color of the rainbow against my skin.  Makeup is fun, and for some it’s art. I think the naysayers make way too much it. It washes off with soap and water at the end of the day, and we go on with our lives. Our boyfriends and husbands aren’t being fooled, and we’re good with ourselves. I share more of my thoughts in this video:



I remember when I was a kid and couldn’t wait to wear make-up so I could be like the girls on Clueless (This was before I knew Stacey Dash was lost in the world). Lipstick was cool, mascara and eyeliner was oh so rad. I had to settle for Bonne Bell lip balm and those infamous clear flavored rollerball lip glosses. The only time I could wear make-up was for dance competitions. As I got older, I really started to explore. I remember stealing my Mom’s Black Opal shadows (some of which I have til this day). At one point in my life, I was even pursuing a career as an MUA. The reason being is because of the way make-up feels. It’s a sense of creative expression. It’s figuring out how many purple and gold smokey eyes one can come up with to go to their college football game. It’s beating your face so you can bolster your confidence if you so choose. You can’t keep me away from a good highlight and bold lip! I’m all for it. Make-up is for the wearer.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Makeup-shaming exists in the black community?

I'm a Lipstick-obsessed Journalist and Fashion Blogger. You can find me over on my blog or youtube channel swatching lippies and strutting around in 5-inch heels. I'm a also a brand coach, specializing in video marketing and digital brand development. Find me @lisaalamode.

Leave a Reply

91 Comments on "Why Are Black Women Makeup-Shamed So Heavily?"

Notify of
La Bella Bre'

Oh, I know who is responsible for these memes and the overt criticism of Black women and their makeup. The BBNC (Bitter B—- Ni— Committee). Across all social media platforms, it has been BLACK MEN who denigrate the Black woman the most. SMH

La Bella Bre'
I personally have no issue with what another woman, especially another Black woman does to her face/hair/body. All this makeup sorcery shit is just waay too much drama on social media. And it’s petty, and the creators and provocateurs REEK of desperation and insecurity. I’ve had grown ass men and women critique me for wearing red lipstick because they are jealous of my full lips. They say “red is a whore color,” yet these same bozos will wear red Jordans or put on a red church hat, lol. Has to be jealousy and old-fashioned views because I don’t see them… Read more »
Ashley Dawn
ALL women are make-up shamed. All women are accused of “lying” using make-up, all women are accused of only wearing make-up to get male attention, and all women are criticized for their color choices. This is not just a problem within the black community. There have been tons of “porn stars without make-up” articles, and every woman featured is white, and everyone always remarks on how these ratty, ugly, acne-riddled little white girls doll up to be every man’s fantasy woman. (“Good thing I only need to look at her for three minutes,” etc. etc.) The only thing in this… Read more »

Nevermind these professional victims. If they’ve experienced something they don’t like it’s because they’re Black women. Yet, you don’t hear them attribute their positive experiences in life to their Blackness. However, if you were to tell them they have a victim’s mentality and self-image they would make all sorts of accusations against you. It’s really embarrassing at this point.



For the dark skinned girl with the red lipstick, I think the main issue is that loud tomato shade just clashes with her (perfectly lovely) skin tone. I would have her in a cooler berry-tone red. But of course yeah, everyone is free to do their makeup however they want and there’s no need for mean/catty commentary. Ain’t my face!


Yes, it exists!-Damn if she does or doesn’t waer make-up! She has to feel.comfortable and beauty no matter her decision…key words: HER CHOICE!

Kiaunta Hubbard

Red lipstick looks good on every skin tone (just use a brown liner for darker skin & no orange undertones). I’m older so I can remember back in the 90’s when neon colors were out and some girl let me know that I was too black to have on loud pink. Well, it wasn’t that it looked bad on me, it’s just that you noticed my skin…which people seemed to have a problem with..even more. My skin was beautiful. I didn’t know that then. It’s the same concept with the red lipstick.

The real issue here is that women can’t win no matter what they do. If they don’t wear makeup, they’re ugly and don’t take care of themselves and will never “get a man.” If they do wear makeup, they’re shallow and fooling people and trying to “trap a man.” Meanwhile, there are entire industries that tell women their beauty is directly linked to their worth as human beings, and an entire history of anti-Blackness that tells Black women they’re worth less than white women regardless of how beautiful they are. “Makeup shaming” isn’t a thing. Hatred of women (especially Black… Read more »



You hit the nail on the head!


No such thing as makeup shaming The issue is just wearing too much makeup regardless of race.


“What are your thoughts? Do you think Makeup-shaming exists in the black community?”

I think a sick, pathetic need to control every damn thing Black women do, think and feel exists in the Black community. SMH

Exquisite Pearl
This topic is such a sensitive subject for many women of color. I’ve watched the videos where these ladies have applied mass amounts of concealer and foundation to even out and blend their skin tones to create their canvas for their make-up artistry. As a Professional Beauty Consultant, one of the things I encounter more then anything in the Black community are young women who will spend a high dollar amount on a mass amount of products to cover up their imperfections. I actually took the time to add up the costs of products used in one of these before… Read more »

I don’t get your answer to the question at hand.

Interrupting Cow
Came across this piece shared on FB, and I love the focus on both asking insightful questions, and offering positive, empowering personal narratives. The idea that makeup (and fashion for that matter) is fair game for anyone’s vicious criticisms baffles and enrages me. Wear what you want, do your makeup how you want, look great, feel great, stop tearing other women down. Amen. I wanted to chime in on this point though: “Black women are also often made to feel restricted with what’s appropriate for their complexion.” For what it’s worth, this is very much not limited to women of… Read more »

Let people wear what they want. It’s their right.

Lizzie Beth

You made it sound like society has a problem with black women wearing makeup when truth is, it’s black people doing the most criticizing. Just like it was black people criticizing Gabby’s hair. I think it’s time we start being honest about how horrible we treat each other!

Yes, I agree with Lizzie about the Gabby thing. Nobody hates black people more than black people — and this hatred is targeted towards dark complexioned black women the most. Of all of the wonderful, spectacular, talented, phenomenal things Gabby does, black folks were so ignorant and self-hating all they could concentrate on was her hair. The little girl’s hair looked like the white girl’s hair: pulled back in a pony tail so that she could do her thing without interference or distraction. I bet not one of those opinionated negroes could do anything Gabby could do! And how many… Read more »
Edith Spencer

And you said everything that needed to be said about this. We treat each other like crap, and we have to stop.

Purple Sound

Exactly. The self-hate in the Black community is real smh. People would be so quick to call out White people for racism yet mercilessly go in on someone who is dark-skinned. Black women can’t win for losing these days. I bet it was an ignorant Black man that made this. I’m am so over them projecting their insecurities onto us.


Hyperpigmentation in everyday lingo is a pretty specific term actually. Refers to Post-Inflammatory hyperpigmented spots, ergo dark spots. What you’re referring to is melasma. Sure technically that falls under the same term, same way technically Indians and Middle Easterners, not just Chinese & Japanese are Asian, but people don’t get that pedantic. In day-to-day speak, hyperpigmentation and pIH are one and the same, that’s probably why your comment sounded so asinine. But yes, if you’re talking about Melasma (which, none of the girls pictured are suffering from actually) then you have a point.


[…] lastly, using it because we are ugly.   I shared more of  thoughts regarding makeup-shaming in this post, however you can watch my Power of Makeup video to show your support for makeup enthusiasts […]

Adebisi's Hat

Truth, every word!


Yes shaming exist and needs to STOP. With or without make-up – up true beauty is from within.


Why do you care? Are you wearing it?

C.S. Stone

having a discussion that includes respecting people expressing their opinion on the topic is beyond you, apparently. oh well.


Same to you as I just expressed my opinion.


Make-up shaming is just self-hate. Why should you care what someone wears on their skin? We all wear make-up to have fun, enhance our features, and to try something new and different from the every day look. I mean so what? Just leave people alone. Give us room to breathe, be ourselves, and enjoy being ourselves. We are sometimes our own worst enemies with the things we say about each other…yes, black women, I am talking about us! Why are we always bashing each other? Society is hard enough. Leave us alone! Let’s stop the shaming, the hating…just STOP!


Actually wearing fake straight hair and makeup that lightens your brown God-given skin is the real self-hate.


…some have not learnt self-love. I had to change my thinking about a lot since returning to nature…it’s a mindset.


I don’t know what people are talking about sometimes. Bright colors look amazing on darker skin. Nothing against my fair sisters, but shades of darker skin lend themselves so well to rich jeweled tones.

Caela Bialek

Agreed! I’m about as pale as a polar bear in a snowstorm, and bright colours unfortunately do not work for me. I used to try wearing eye makeup when I was a teenager, but I eventually realized I looked like a ghost clown, so I stopped.

To all makeup-wearing dark-skinned people: if you want to wear a bright colour, do it. I may not be able to wear those colours myself without looking absurd, but I sure as hell appreciate how good you look with those colours on your beautiful melanated skin #melanenvy 🙂


No!!!! Not a “ghost clown”!! XD
But yeah, whenever I see makeup recommendations, one thing seems to ring true: darker skintones can handle more pigment in makeup. The contrast is striking and flattering, but some people apparently don’t like it, smh

This is just another way for people to try and keep Black Women “in their place”. Black Women need to understand that ‘our place” is wherever we decide we want it to be and that, “that place” is interchangeable. Kind of like makeup, which is why I wear it and love it. I personally love seeing dark skin women with bright lipstick colors. I’m not a fan of weird colors on anyone mind you, like the blue color they have out or the yellow, but that’s regardless of race or complexion and its just my thing. What we as black… Read more »

[…] the longest weave or the best contouring technique, but I am saying that a girl or woman’s cosmetic care choices shouldn’t diminish how you view her as a potential partner. What we do with our hair, nails, […]

Most folks that shame black women for wearing makeup are only saying “I cant imagine how to begin to do that on my own face so since I feel intimidated I’m going to knock her down by saying something rude.” And as far as men, they are idiots when it comes to makeup and what they think is natural. Nobody is transforming like that on you in real life and if they are be grateful they took the time to get cute for you because you probably don’t look like much to her, but she recognizes that men dont usually… Read more »
Hello there ladies! I am a history major and I would like to address your question in the article: Why is our use of makeup tied to us wanting to appear more white, or trying to land a man? Futhermore, why does there exist a stigma against dark-skinned women….. First, the Europeans created race and created the feuding and stigmas we have against one another. The dark-skinned vs light-skinned and field workers vs house workers battle is real. You see there were several blacks who were born in now America during the colonial periods and even before. Interracial marriage was… Read more »

I think most of the people on this blog are well-aware of the history of slavery. That doesn’t address why Black women are singled out for being dark-skinned instead of Black men, or why women are shamed for wearing makeup.

Stephanja Ahumada
I think people are super hateful and it shocks me. If a girl wears no make up and doesn’t look “the part”, she has no self confidence, but if she wears make up proudly and has fun with herself, she is a liar… seriously people! I think all of those women are beautiful for WHO they are and I’m glad they are enjoying themselves. Make up is art. It’s fun. It makes us more confident just like fixing your hair or putting on nice clothes. I think the swimming hash tag is degrading and insulting. Let’s not forget that NONE… Read more »

Thank you so much for your comment I forget women wit a lighter hue use bronzer

Well, as far as the question of “The question then is, why are black women not afforded the same freedom with wearing makeup as our white counterparts” goes, one is always going to receive that uneven treatment from white society and we already know why, which is partially fueled by the fact that we not only age better but look stunningly better both with and without makeup than our white counterparts have, do and ever will. If people need a hashtag, they can use #facts for that. But when it comes to our own community, some of the more juvenile… Read more »

But at the end of the day, what does it matter what colors a person wear on her skin? It’s not your skin so why should it matter to you? Seriously. Happy medium or extreme is still a matter of personal choice.

As you’re doing exactly what you’re criticizing me for, I can only reply in kind = my comment was neither posted by/about, nor directed to you, so why should the fact that I care or hold an opinion on the issue, matter to you? To answer your questions – it matters to me because I love my people and like helping them when asked to. But don’t mistake my answering the questions put forth in the article for, say, my actively sharing my opinions with others about their makeup choices without their asking. Two different things, hence my comment about… Read more »

there’s wearing makeup and then there’s wearing a mask… some don’t recognize the difference.

Staci Elle

I love makeup but when you look completely different on your after.. yea your potential partner might think its some kind of trickery…

Lakitha Goss

I love makep. It gives me a sense of power. The ability to flaunt pwowerful colors such as orange and teals on my lids and to slay in rich red, pranges, and purple lipsticks truly gives me life. I have been wearing makeup since age 13. My mom always told me that makeup makes a woman more polished.


I think this is the same as the fatshaming and slutshaming conversations; people need to worry about themselves instead of the weight, makeup, faces, and vaginas of other people. In other words, mind your fucking business about what someone else is doing with THEIR bodies.

Happywife Taylor

I love my makeup and I do very good job of making it look very natural. Black women can wear red lipstick. There are several different shades of red to compliment every skin tone.


Let’s not overlook the fact that that girls makeup doesn’t match her skin tone whatsoever. Technique is cool, but color mastery is equally important. Also, her makeup makes her look like a different person, but if that’s the look she’s going for….mission accomplished. Like why aren’t we talking about how this is bad makeup as opposed to good makeup? That’s the real discussion.


Have you seen most actors without their makeup? You would not recognize them.


Can we also talk about how hard it can be for black women to find the right color? I’ve resorted to mixing 2 to sometimes even 3 different foundation colors to find sort of a close match to my natural skintone. Please take that into account. I’ve even seen many black celeb women with foundation that’s off. The struggle is real.


Yes! I also mix colors. And the problem is that I don’t have a formula so I cannot really reproduce the look consistently. Not to mention that I tan easily and my shade changes significantly. I end up not wearing makeup often for this reason.

I get that this is a blog focused on solely black issues, but this is not an issue relegated exclusively to black women. This is a problem for ALL women. Really, nor everything is that personal. Why won’t those with hyperpigmentation blend they’re tones to their darker, more prevalent shade? Clearly this speaks to an even bigger issue we still hold with darker skin. Why can’t we tell a woman that a color choice is unflattering? Granted, we black women aren’t known for our tones of kindness and positive support. But honesty isn’t a crime against blackness. I mean, if… Read more »
“I get that this is a blog focused on solely black issues…” Just keep reading that part over and and over again until it hits you. But if you want to go there — Why don’t women blend to their darker, hyperpigmented shade? One, because it’s hard enough to find makeup darker than tan and, even if you do, these companies seem to think that the cool/warm/neutral undertone thing stops once you’re darker than a paper bag. I can’t tell you how many cocoa, ebony, toasted almond, cappuccino, espresso, mink and fawn foundations I’ve had that had “warm” in front… Read more »
LulaBelle as to your first statement, I don’t see how you could miss the point. Maybe I didn’t covey it clearly enough for your comprehension? Would I tell a white woman with acne scarring to wear redder foundation? That’s the the most narrow minded question anyone can possibly pose on the issue of hyperpigmentation. Clearly you are not aware of ALL the manifestations of such a generic term. I would tell a white woman with blotches or patches of darker shades due the uneven tones of color deposits she was naturally born with to go with the darker shade rather… Read more »

#allivesmatter /s


Reply again when you feel like being relevant to the topic. I’ll gladly court your thoughts then.


Because they don’t make foundation dark enough or don’t carry the brands that make foundation dark enough.

S. Williams

from what I’ve seen, people get foundation to correct hyperpigmentation that closely resembles the color of their neck and chest. if the face is naturally darker than the neck (or for white women who suffer from rosacea[sp] and get opal tones) then it makes sense to match the face to the rest of the body. I don’t think it’s a matter of not getting the darker color. it’s getting your face to match the skin color of the rest of your body


The bright red lipstick on that woman looks just as off as dark brown lipstick would look on pale skin. Back in the 60s, Diana Ross wore awful pale pink lipstick and it was “in fashion” at the time. Colors look better if they match your skin tone so I really don’t think this was darkskinned shaming at all.

i used to be anti-make up, outside of lipstick. i have clear skin (i eat healthy, exercise and take good care of myself). it used to bother me when i saw women of any group with make-up. but then i saw a youtube blogger take off her make-up. her skin was so bad, i actually had sympathy for her. i suspect she needed that make-up to feel confident in herself. since then, i don’t judge women for wearing make up so much. BUT, i have noticed that there’s this presumption that you’re not polished if you don’t have a face… Read more »

I’m a fan of women wearing what they want, what makes them feel good. If anyone else doesn’t like it, they can take a flying leap off a short pier.

There will always be makeup criticism for any woman, of any shade, so might as well focus on pleasing yourself.


Why do you stop playing the victim and do what you want? *eye roll*

s. cupcake

oy vey