Here Is Some Of The Best Universal Makeup For Brown Girls

Illustrated by Jihyang Lim

Your search ends here

This may surprise you, but everything the beauty industry tells you is a lie. Okay, so definitely not everything, but pretty much every time you hear about “universally flattering makeup shades,” you should keep in mind that, for many people in power, the universe does not include people with non-fair skin tones. Case in point: If M.A.C's Ruby Woo is supposed to look good on everyone, then why does it make me look like Bozo the clown’s sidekick? And before you shake your first and yell about Nars’ Orgasm blush, let me tell you: It looked like I had glittery dirt on my face when I tried it on.

Maybe the problem isn't that the industry is lying to you, maybe the problem is more about the fact that "universally flattering" is just a too good to be true concept. Maybe nothing is truly universal. Maybe! But before you worry that I'm being a defeatist, let me just tell you that, through years of "research" (aka makeup hoarding and coercing my friends to put on makeup at my place), I’ve come across a few surefire shades and products that are actually universally flattering on brown complexions.

Let’s start with the product that started this whole thing: red lipstick. As far as lipstick shades go, there are essentially two types of red, cool shades and warm shades. Warm reds (bright tomato-y hues) are generally going to be less flattering on brown skin, whereas cool reds, which are deeper and may have hints of red or berry, are going to work better. So go for the cool reds if you've got darker skin, and you're less likely to go wrong. And I know, you want actual product recs. Don't worry, I've got those too. My favorites are: Rodin Lip Wardrobe in Red Hedy, Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip in Love Bug, and Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in AmsterdamRed Hedy is pretty close to a “true red” but veers into crimson territory with purple undertones, Amsterdam is a more subtle brickish-brown red, and Love Bug is a red with deep black and purple undertones. 

Aaaaaand now... lip tints. Do they work? For anyone? Ever? I’m kidding, I’m sure they do, I know they do, because I’ve seen it happen (on other people). Lip tints almost never show up on me because the base color of my lip is too dark. I’ve never been able to achieve that easy breeziness that the theoretical premise of a lip tint promises. But there are some options: Milk lip pigments, YSL’s lip oils, Tom Ford's Patent Lip Color and Winky Lux Flower Balms. Not all of these products are explicitly lip tints, but they work the same way. Milk Lip Pigment in That Red Tho will make it look like maybe you got lost in a forest and ate your body weight in raspberries. YSL’s lip oils take a second to kick in; they start out looking like lip gloss (except without the stickiness, an added bonus), but after a short while, you’re left with a deep dye on your lips. If you’re looking for peachy light shades, these are likely the only ones with any staying (and showing) power. For darker tints, Tom Ford Patent Lip Color is best in Exposed, a deep berry shade. Part of its genius is that it’s extremely buildable. If you put in on really light and thin it’ll look like a tint, but the more you layer on the more opaque and lipstick-looking it becomes. The most surprising product here is probably the Winky Lux Flower Balm; while it seems really gimmicky (it’s a clear lipstick with a tiny flower at it’s base) at first, it goes on as a sheer pink and leaves a subtle pink tint. 

With nudes and neutrals it can be taxing to continue to try out the majority of marketed “nude” shades, which in fact make it look like you ate a pound of chalk. For lipliners, go with NYX’s retractable version in Cocoa, Clarins lip liner in Nude Rose, and Hourglass Lip Liner in Eden. For nude lipsticks, try Son & Park Lip Crayon in Carrot, MAC lipstick in Taupe, and Kat Von D’s Lolita II. I’m convinced that these are all magical lipstick shades that, much like the Sisterhood of Traveling Pants jeans, adjust themselves to their owner. They’re all vaguely in the nude and neutral wheelhouse, so even if they’re not exact matches they’ll still bring out the glimmer and glow in your complexion.

And now for the rest of your face: Blush is the bane of my existence, it’s impossibly easy to go from 0 to Miss Piggy real quick. Reality set in and I realized that these were not suited for my melanin levels. For a good time there’s Charlotte Tilbury who has not one but two great options: Love Glow which is more pink and defining, and First Love, more brown and subtle. Becca is also generally a great brand for POC, I’m convinced that they create most of their products with melanin in mind, which is a nice change of pace. Go with Flowerchild for a subtle pink flush, or Dahlia if you’re looking for a deeper red shade. 

As far as highlighters go, it’s a pretty safe game, but still there is still one product that reigns over them all: Anastasia Beverly Hills Ultimate Glow Kit, which is the most divine highlighting palette to have ever existed. All six shades in the palette look ethereal on brown skin tones, like you went to St. Barts and/or found the fountain of youth.

Similarly to highlighters, eyeshadows tend to be more truly universal, but at the same time never trust anyone that says Kitten by Stila is the easiest shade for ~everyone~ (it’s not); it gave my eyes that early 2000’s frostiness that was so actually bad, it’s been left out of all the recent '00s nostalgia. However, Inglot’s pigments, are by nature extremely versatile and buildable. A ton of them are also two-toned in a way that makes the most dramatic shades look flattering and natural. There are over 60 shades, so here’s the cheatsheet that work on every single melanin-kissed brown girl I know: Inglot Pigments in 86 (bronze), 111 (a subtle light pink), 115 (gold) and 120 (a purplish brown). Enjoy!

Obviously, "universal" is a tricky concept for all people, no matter their skin tone; the main problem with the word's frequent use is that it usually applies to fair-skinned people and fair-skinned people only. But now that you've got some basic, no brainer go-tos for brown complexions, ideally meant to save you some stress, and prevent excessive spending and an endless cycle of swatching and testing, I encourage you to go out there and experiment and find what works best for you. It's a big beauty universe out there, you should never feel like you don't fit in.

Photo courtesy of TNT.

The gang takes on a casino this season

For its third act, the TNT series Claws is here to prove that it's still the gaudiest show on television.

Claws follows a criminal underworld in Florida that lurks just beneath the surface of a local pain clinic, a strip club, and, most prominently, a nail salon. Despite wanting to make a legit business out of her nail salon, HBIC Desna (Niecy Nash) has spent the past two seasons getting deep into a life of crime. She has had the help of her autistic brother Dean (Harold Perrineau) and the four women she loves the most—Southern belle and con artist Polly (Carrie Preston), silent possessor of Big Strap Energy Ann (Judy Reyes), restlessly sober Jenn (Jenn Lyon), and former stripper Virginia (Karrueche Tran)—who are all back together in the new trailer.

Spoiler alert: Virginia was shot trying to protect Desna at the end of last season. But she survived, and now she's rocking a bedazzled eye patch as the gang takes on their next venture: a casino. "We own a casino," says Desna in the trailer, as we see shots of people gambling and money thrown in the air. "If we play this right, we can all level up." As always, trouble follows, the manicures are over-the-top, and, as an extra treat, Dean is still pursuing his dream of being an adult dancer.

Claws returns for Season 3 on June 9. Check out the trailer, below.

Claws: New Season Sunday, June 9 [TRAILER] | TNT

Photos by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for WE Day, Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

He also thought Lana Del Rey telling him he would be guillotined was a compliment, so we don't think he understands women

In a new memoir called Then It Fell Apart, singer Moby alleged he had a relationship with actress Natalie Portman when he was 33 and she was 20. But, in a new interview with Harper's Bazaar, Portman set the record straight, saying that his description of their relationship is false and contains other factual errors, that makes his behavior seem even grosser than it already did.

Not only did Portman say that the two didn't date, but that he also misrepresented her age. "I was surprised to hear that he characterized the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school," she said. "He said I was 20; I definitely wasn't. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18."

She says that they met when she went to one of his shows: "He said, 'let's be friends'. He was on tour and I was working, shooting a film, so we only hung out a handful of times before I realized that this was an older man who was interested in me in a way that felt inappropriate."

Portman also stated that she was not contacted to fact check this information, noting that "it almost feels deliberate." "That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn't the case," she said. "There are many factual errors and inventions. I would have liked him or his publisher to reach out to fact check."

Another part of his memoir describes a conversation with Lana Del Rey, in which she joked about how wealthy he was. "You're a rich WASP from Connecticut and you live in a five-level penthouse. You're 'The Man.' As in, 'stick it to The Man.' As in the person they guillotine in the revolution." His response: "I didn't know if she was insulting me but I decided to take it as a compliment." This only further proves that Moby doesn't understand women at all, which may explain how he took a couple of hangouts with Portman to mean that they were dating.

Moby has since responded to Portman's statement in an equally creepy Instagram post with a photo of him shirtless with the actress, calling the interview a "gossip piece." "We did, in fact, date. And after briefly dating in 1999 we remained friends for years," he said. "I like Natalie, and I respect her intelligence and activism. But, to be honest, I can't figure out why she would actively misrepresent the truth about our (albeit brief) involvement. He also said that he backs up the story in his book with "lots of corroborating photo evidence, etc." He then ends with this: "I completely respect Natalie's possible regret in dating me(to be fair, I would probably regret dating me, too), but it doesn't alter the actual facts of our brief romantic history."

Among many other things that are questionable about his claims, if you have to have "corroborating evidence" to prove a relationship that one person claims didn't happen, you're doing the whole "dating" thing wrong.

Photo by Jerritt Clark / Stringer / Getty Images.

She's been wonderfully honest about the ups and downs of her procedures

There is a good chance that, right now, Cardi B is wearing really something really tight. I'm not talking about one of the pieces from her Fashion Nova collection, either. Instead, she's probably cooing at baby Kulture while swaddled in a compression garment, a necessary part of the healing process after certain cosmetic surgery procedures.

As reported by E! News, Cardi B has had to cancel several performances after her doctor ordered her to rest and allow her body to recover following cosmetic surgery. A rep for Cardi explained to E! that "Cardi was overzealous in getting back to work" and that "her strenuous schedule has taken a toll on her body and she has been given strict doctor's orders to pull out of the rest of her performances in May." This followed an admission by Cardi herself, at the Beale Street Music Festival earlier this month, that she should have canceled her performance because moving too much would mess up her lipo.

Cardi's transparency about plastic surgery is nothing new for her. She has opened up in the past about her underground butt injections, including the financial pressure she felt and the risks she took to get them. She's been open about both of her breast augmentation procedures as well, most recently getting them redone after giving birth to her daughter. But Cardi's transparency about the ups and downs of plastic surgery is still rare amongst celebrities and is therefore refreshing.

And it's not just celebrities who keep quiet about these procedures. The first person I knew to get a butt augmentation was a friend from high school. We reconnected as adults, and I remember going to her apartment after her surgery, and seeing her pace the floor in her compression garment, since it was still too soon to sit and put pressure on her backside. But even in the comfort of her own home, she seemed to speak in a hushed tone about having had the surgery. Before I'd arrived, she just told me she'd had a "medical procedure," and didn't say anything more. This has been the case for other women I've met who have gotten "work" done, including my aesthetician, a colleague who got a nose job, a darling YouTuber with whom I had the pleasure of having dinner; all of them would only acknowledge their enhancements in secret—the shame was palpable, and unfortunate. It's clear that women who get plastic surgery might be celebrated for the results, but there's an expectation that they should keep quiet about it, and feel bad for having made a choice about their own bodies.

So it's no surprise that, in the pop culture realm, people like Cardi are exceptions to the rule. Thanks to the internet, we can easily track the fullness of a celebrity's lips or backside over the course of time without them ever explicitly acknowledging the medical intervention that took place. And while people, of course, have the right to privacy, and should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies without offering explanations, it would still be nice if they opened up, if only to take away the attached stigma that affects so many people. Which is why I hope Cardi's willingness to lay it all out there becomes a trend. No one should have to harbor shame for investing in having a body that looks the way they want it to.

Asset 7
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

"In my head I thought, This is how it ends"

Kit Harington almost lost a lot more than the Iron Throne while filming the final season of Game of Thrones. According to an interview with NowThis News, the actor almost lost one of his balls while riding a mechanical dragon.

Harington revealed that the incident took place when he was filming the scene where his character, Jon Snow, takes a ride on Rhaegal for the first time in the Season 8 premiere. Since dragons aren't real (sorry), Harington was filming the scene, where Jon almost falls off the dragon and then swings around to pick himself back up, on a mechanical contraption.

"My right ball got trapped, and I didn't have time to say, 'Stop,'" Harington said in an interview. "And I was being swung around. In my head I thought, This is how it ends. On this buck, swinging me around by my testicles, literally." We see shots of the fake dragon he's riding in front of a green screen, and it does look pretty terrifying.

Luckily, his testicles remained intact through the near-disastrous event, and he's survived with quite the story to tell to unsuspecting journalists.

Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

"I had to create a harder shell about being a woman"

In a panel discussion during Gwyneth Paltrow's In Goop Health summit, actress Jessica Alba revealed that she "stopped eating" to avoid unwanted attention from men when she was first starting her career in Hollywood.

According to People, Alba said that she "had a curvy figure as a young girl" and, as such, was made to feel as though her body was the reason that men may be inappropriate toward her. "I was meant to feel ashamed if I tempted men," Alba said during the panel discussion. "Then I stopped eating a lot when I became an actress. I made myself look more like a boy so I wouldn't get as much attention. I went through a big tomboy phase."

She continued, "In Hollywood, you're really preyed upon. They see a young girl, and they just want to touch you inappropriately or talk to you inappropriately or think that they're allowed to be aggressive with you in a way."

Alba also noted that she was raised in a conservative household. "My mom would say, 'You have a body, and it's very womanly, and people don't understand that you're 12,'" she said. "I wasn't allowed to have my nalgas out, which is butt cheeks [in Spanish], but I was born with a giant booty, and they come out of everything. So, I didn't get to wear normal things that all my friends wore."

She said that these reactions to her body really affected her attitude. "I created this pretty insane 'don't fuck with me' [attitude]," she said. "I had to create a harder shell about being a woman."

According to her, her relationship to her body only changed when her first child, Honor, was born in 2008. "[After she was born,] I was like, Oh this is what these boobies are meant to do! Feed a kid!" she said. "And that was the dopest shit I'd ever done. So, I came into my body as a woman finally and I stopped being ashamed of myself."