June 11th, 2012
Beauty, Fashion Bomb Exclusive
Fashion Bomb Exclusive: Sam Fine on the State of Black Beauty, Beauty Mistakes Women of Color Make, and Makeup Products You Need in Your Arsenal
By The Fashion Bomb Staff

Happy Monday, Bombers!
Jihan here with a beauty report.
Friday, I stopped by the Fashion Fair stand at Macy’s Brooklyn Mall to ask celebrity makeup artist and creative makeup director of Fashion Fair Sam Fine a few questions about the changing (or rather, unchanging) space black women occupy in relation to the beauty industry.

Sam Fine and me, sans makeup

Mr Fine was in high spirits, insightful and charming– with a face beat for the gods, naturally. I arrived sporting my usual makeup-free face (oops!), but the gracious Mr. Fine still agreed to share his thoughts and of course, a few makeup tips:

Fashion Bomb: So, how has the beauty industry changed for women of color since you started working in it?

Sam Fine: “You know, I started makeup in ’98, and I have to say that I’ve seen a lot of things come and go during that time.  I can’t say that it’s changed greatly. I think more companies attempt to reach out to women of color, but it’s just like when you look at fashion. When you talk about it that way, it’s a great comparison. In many ways we have become a novelty. It’s ‘We’re gonna pay attention to them this month,’ or ‘We’re gonna hire a  top model,’ or ‘We’re going to do one thing with the hope of attracting this vast audience.’ I think that’s why for me, being with Fashion Fair, it’s so much more than another job, because it’s a company that for nearly 40 years has dedicated themselves to black women. When you have other companies that haven’t truly dedicated themselves to satisfying the needs of black women, you get just a sampling, you get a trend, you get one product. How can I expect anyone to be the master at something if they’ve only just begun, and have only attempted to do that in such a small time? So, to answer your question more directly, when I think about how things have changed, I think we’ve seen a lot of cosmetic companies and shades come and go, but the one thing that has been consistent is the inconsistency.”

What is the biggest beauty mistake women of color make all the time?

“I think the biggest beauty mistake is really not wearing makeup.”


“… As I look at my interviewer, bare faced! It’s okay! I know you know how! [ed. note: I do, I promise!] I think the biggest beauty mistake is not understanding how to enhance your beauty. And I think a lot of WOC are scared that makeup is going to make [them] look fake, “It’s not gonna look like me, they’re not going to have my color.” I think that they just tend to step away from the category when a brand like Fashion Fair, is releasing a liquid foundation in July to add to the range of colors. Nineteen shades! There will be 17 shades in liquid! And if you look at that, that’s not a range that’s broken up for general market vs. African Americans. So you really are getting a wealth of coverage options and colors. I think the biggest mistake is not participating in the game at all.

Sometimes you don’t have time! I’ll be rushing around like a madwoman trying to get my day started, and then later, I’ll have an event to go to, take pictures, and oops! No makeup!

 I work with a range of beauty, so I am never an advocate for one look, I think makeup is a personality. So some women want to wear six-inch heels, some women want to wear flats, and that can be equally as dressy. But the point that I’m making is more about just knowing how to use a pressed power, learning how to use lip gloss, learning how to use mascara. Things that just naturally enhance your beauty.

On that note, what are 5 things every woman should have in their makeup bag?

It’s a lifelong process of getting to these five pieces. I just named a few.  Pressed powder, mascara, and lip gloss, because I think those things aren’t intimidating, once you get past the shade of powder, I think that becomes easy to apply. But if I had to go two steps further, I always start out with some kind of a coverage product. A concealer, or a foundation that you can use as a concealer. Underneath the eyes is the thinnest area of skin, so you really want to make sure that any redness or discoloration can be covered.  Also powder. Powder’s going to set the foundation or the concealer so it can stay on longer. I always say powder is to foundation what topcoat is to nail polish. It really holds it in place and keeps it from rubbing off and settling in fine lines.


You heard the man, ladies! It’s all about coverage! What do you think? Do you feel black women don’t participate in beauty as much as they should? Are you an avid makeup wearer, or do you generally stay bare faced?


~ Jihan

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52 Responses to “Fashion Bomb Exclusive: Sam Fine on the State of Black Beauty, Beauty Mistakes Women of Color Make, and Makeup Products You Need in Your Arsenal”

  1. Lee says:

    Great piece Claire! Thanks.


  2. Jersey says:

    Bare face not unless I have an event in the evening or special occassion …I can’t be bothered in the morning with make-up I’m always running late lol

  3. Rebecca says:

    Great interview Jihan. I happen to love makeup and I don’t think it makes you look fake as long as it is properly applied. Like the MUA (make-up artist) said, makeup should just be used to enhance your natural beauty and I couldn’t agree more. UNfortunatly I do not have the time everyday to apply makeup but when i do I like to mainly keep everything neutral but maybe have some fun by pairing a bold lip with it.

  4. yusufswifee says:

    looooooooove this….Will be headed back to MAC this week to switch my NC45 for whatever color I am. Got the concealer and the loose powder.

    Had no idea that they subscribe that color to such a WIDE range of WOC….smh!

  5. Papi says:

    Loved the article! I tend to back away from purchasing makeup because I’m clueless as to which products suit my skin color. I fear the frustrations of application and I don’t give myself time to search for the right products. I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Fine because as women we have to encourage ourselves to experiment with beauty products. I am definitely inspired to enhance my look. Thanks Jihan!

  6. 11 Reasons says:

    Great post Jihan!

    My makeup routine coordinates with how I’m feeling. Going out: i keep it simple with a simple eye or lip. Interview/meeting: neutral but made up.

    I rarely wear foundation, concealer etc because I have a pretty clear and even toned complexion.

    I love mascara and lip gloss. They are my go to items!

  7. Dee says:

    Great post,J!!! Love Sam. Can’t wait to see how he transforms FF. It seriously needed an overhaul. He is the right man for the job.

  8. Prettyblaq says:

    Love the post!!! I grew up wearing Fashion Fair & Mary Kay, (Thanks Mommy) so I’m really EXCITED to hear about this new liquid foundation in 19 freakin shades!!! **Black Girls Rock** … And I must agree with his 5 must haves, because I have all of those in my purse right now, lol … but for me the 5th must have is BLUSH, cause like I love to tell my fam, yes Black Girls Do BLUSH!!! :-)

  9. Katie says:

    Wow at the Fashion Fair line! ^_^ I would love to support and it just so happens that I’m in the market for a new foundation. I hope that it’s high quality, full /medium coverage, and doesn’t transfer. I hope this doesn’t disappoint. I hate foundations that transfer, so annoying.

  10. makeeasweet says:

    im 25 years old and i didnt start getting into makeup until i was 20.the main reason was i didnt know what i was doing.my mother never taught me anything about makeup and had to learn from watching youtube makeup tutorials.i notice that darker woman have more of a problem experimenting with makeup.i get upset when i hear my friend say she too dark for red lipstick or orange blush(which look fantastic on dark skin).im around beyonce complexion and i alway thought bright pink lip colors look horrible on me,after a while i realize i just wasnt picking the right colors for my warm undertones.it took me forever just to get my friend to start wearing blush and she loves it now.people keep saying they dont have time,sound like a excuse.it take 5 minutes to put on lipstick, concealer and one coat of mascara.simple wing eyeliner and red lips is my fave look of all time,actress ashley madekwe wear that look all the time and she look fantastic everytime.

  11. makeeasweet says:

    ^^^ sorry for writing so much,lol

  12. Siyam says:

    I get all antsy when it comes to makeup. I agree with Mr. Fine: I think my own skin is enough, and that the application of makeup is gonna be too much to take off every day after heading to work. Maybe I just need to find a YouTube video to watch :)

  13. t-fal says:

    Great post!

    I used to stray away from makeup, simply because my mom doesn’t wear more than pressed powder & lipstick and i have a dark complexion. I didn’t start playing with makeup until mid-20s. However, for daily use, I swear by a dab of mac oncealer under my eyes and right under my brow arch, laura mercier tinted moisturizer, lip gloss, blush and mascara. it’s simple, no more than 5 minutes and it truly enhances. I get jazzy with eye shadows and liner on the wknds!

  14. jgirl says:

    Love this post.
    I haven’t worn foundation in a while bc its asst too hot. So I mainly do concealer, eyeliner & mascara.
    I’m excited to look into FF. I never knew they serviced AA women for that long— def means their products would be awesome. Next time I’m in macys ill stop by their counter for sure!

  15. Leão25 says:

    Great interview and I especially liked that he took it back to illustrate the plethora of options now available.

  16. Claire says:

    @Jihan Is that a bindi? I love it!

  17. Jihan says:

    @Claire yes ma’am it is! merci!

  18. Brittany says:

    You went to talk to this man knowing what he does and you weren’t wearing any makeup. Wow….Just wow. LOL.

  19. K Diana says:

    Love this post! LOVE Sam Fine! I can’t wait to try the new FF liquid foundations. I know he won’t let them produce mess. I’ve been a Bobbi Brown user for years and would love to support FF.

    @Slyam Check out Mr Fine’s DVD The Basics of Beauty. It is awesome! Please proceed with caution when seeking advisement from Youtube. ;-)

  20. Great article! Mr. Fine always seems to give good and direct advice. SN: In the last paragraph you put power instead of powder about 3 times.

  21. Nakia P says:

    This was great… Miss the beauty posts, Danielle is missed.

  22. ladyluo says:

    Excellent interview. May have to check out Fashion Fair although I am not holding my breath. We will see.

  23. Thefav1 says:

    Good job Jihan! I wear mascara every single day!!! My first make up picture day in high school was fashion fair b/c no one had my shade… Fast forward today I wear Nars, Bobby brown and make up forever full beat face when I go out. My friends ask me for tips :) But practice and going to the make up counters help; don’t be afraid it’s fun!

  24. Emily says:

    Sam Fine is just like Jared Leto and Pharrell Williams. They are vampires who do not age. Amazing! Have they found the fountain of youth or what?

  25. Bridgette says:

    As a makeup artist, I totally agree with Mr. Fine’s take on African American women who are afraid to wear makeup because of fear of looking “fake”, not having time or prefering the “natural” look (not wearing makeup at all). Those same women may wear fake nails and hair, so what’s the difference? You can create a morning makeup routine that takes 5 minutes and still looks fresh faced and like you, and ladies please, there are soooo many more companies that cater to African American women than MAC. I’m not saying skip their products, because I use them and they’re great, but try other lines as well. Makeup Forever, Smashbox, Iman, Tarte, Napoleon Cosmetics, Nars, Lorac and Urban Decay are a few to consider for eye shadows, tinted moisturizers (since it’s summer) and good concealors if you need more coverage. Don’t be afraid of makeup ladies, it’s your friend!

  26. @paparazzi_promo says:

    thanks claire ! needed this :)

  27. Bronze says:

    U can learn a lot about make up on you tube. Best tutorials ever.

  28. Yes more WOC need to try makeup. I’ll go out to events and see WOC, particularly black women, dressed to the nines with a blank canvas! And some are so blemish-y and oily! At least pressed powder, concealer and mascara! *claps* Even if you have flawless skin there’s nothing wrong with some blush and mascara.

    I’m not a woman that needs a full face of makeup. I’m glad I can put on some under eye concealer, mascara, powder for my oil and light blush and I’m good to go. When it’s hot foundation + my oily skin won’t make it even 1/3 of the day. But yes pressed powder is fab! I am using Bare Minerals ‘mineral veil’ (Sephora) and it is THE BEST powder I’ve ever used. EVER!

  29. Natasha says:

    @Bridgette It’s all well and good to make the make up but the stores need to carry it in the full shade range in order for us to buy it.

    Carry the range…and then make sure it doesn’t expire on the shelf (I’m looking at you, Sephora).

    Simple, effective promo to WOC – with the help of bloggers, perhaps – would be a good start. That certainly must of been a topic at Claire’s recent conference.

  30. Bridgette says:

    @Natasha I hear you, that is often the problem when WOC shop for foundations and such. Go online to each companies website, check out their return policies in case the shade is wrong and shop around. Sadly many stores don’t carry the full range of shades. I guess it’s because we don’t make enough of a fuss about it, perhaps. Even in Duane Reade, Walgreens and stores alike, the Cover Girl Queen Collection (another great line) isn’t even carried in all the shades available. Shame!

  31. marguerite says:

    great post! i wear everything but foundation. foundation and pressed powder scare me. i prefer my natural skin w/ a face full of makeup.

    does he have a book? i need to buy his book.

  32. Joanne_ says:

    i’m an avid makeup wearer but i have to say i do have my days where i need my face to breathe and go sans makeup. alot of black women are afraid to put on some makeup because they’re afraid that they’re going to be judged but in reality you’re being judged WITHOUT the makeup too! we just need to be a little more confident and realize we are able to own whatever it is that we decide to do and once we see that others will too :)

  33. NYC Chick says:

    It would be nice for Fashion Fair to have a come back. They just desperately need to revamp their brand and marketing approach, plus increase their distribution. It’s hard to find the product.

    At the request of an aggressive sales person, I stopped by a FF counter in the mall for the first time in like 12+ years. She applied a liner and lip gloss. It looked really nice.

    I was just nervous about the ingredients. Since FF doesn’t seem to invest much in it’s brand, I was worried that they also take shortcuts with impure/unhealthy ingredients. My fear is probably unfounded, but the brand just seemed so low budget, I had negative associations with it.

  34. SPA says:

    Since I’ve turned 30, I make sure, at the very least, I wear mascara and lip gloss every day (that I’m out of the house). It only takes me 2 minutes to apply, but makes a big difference on how I look and feel. If I’m getting dressed up, I also wear concealer, tinted moisturizer (instead of foundation), and a translucent powder.

  35. Katie says:

    @ marguerite
    Yes he does, even a DVD. The book is out of print but you can still get it on Amazon.

  36. Crystal says:

    I actually like that black women aren’t big on make up. *ducks* I’m generally bare faced except for mascara and lip gloss (nude at that). In the winter I will add a touch of bronzer. For going out I add eyeliner.

  37. Robin says:

    I’m usually bare faced but I’m really thinking about starting to apply makeup thanks to this post!!

  38. Goldie Fawn says:

    Great article, so great to see a master speaking about his work. I agree with @Joanne @Bridgette and @BrooklynLady @Brittny
    Okay women of color will rock contacts, fake lashes, tattoos and a weave with a bear face. Not even moisturizer, not even a nice lip. Buy some cheap makeup and play in it,what were you guys doing as kids pre internet? How are you running late in the morning if you’re not doing your makeup- 5 minutes for me to do a full face- a light eye, liquid bronzer, blush and lip. We don’t have time to work out, no time to beautify and enjoy our femininity. What are you doing instead and please don’t say raising kids that’s not an excuse. Present yourself to the world at your best not half ass. BTW, how do you go see Sam Fine a make up guru, with a damn bindi on your head which takes more time to put on than a sweep of lip gloss?

  39. Ifs says:

    First off let me just say that I love make up. My daily routine consists of Nars tinted moisturizer mixed with their orgasm illuminator (try it and you will get the best glowy/dewy skin ever), mascara, lipgloss or lipstick, eyeshadow, and I live for blush. For an evening out I do it up a little more, maybe a stronger eye or a fierce red lip. Youtube is a godsend for make up newbies so anyone that has been scared to jump in start there. @marguerite Mr. Fine has a DVD check it out for pointers, great for beginners.

  40. Oak2ATL says:

    Great article. I recently participated in a leadership development program in which we were explicitly warned that not wearing make-up is unprofessional and therefore unacceptable. True indeed.

  41. Gray says:

    I LOVE MAKEUP!!!! I recently have been appyling makeup daily, I used to were it whenever I had time in the morning. Now I just wake up 15 minutes earlier so that I have time everyday. I am in front of large groups of people or cameras often and I kick myself when I have to do a camera interview without one lick of anything on. I stand by Bare Minerals Makeup they can match any color :)

  42. binks says:

    Agree Crystal, I tried to get into makeup but I’ am just not interested in putting on a mask every day. I rather keep my makeup rather minimum unless there is an occasion where I have to go all out but I rather focus on my skincare and having a great complexion sans makeup, so a little mascara, concealer here and there and gloss is all I need.

  43. Carmen says:

    @Crystal..I agree..I feel like that shows that we have more confidence in our natural state..I for one only wear two things every single day..Lip gloss & Earrings…I don’t need makeup & when I do wear it it makes me look older..Its a pain to take off too uuugh

  44. Tammy says:

    I do think women are afraid of being called fake. Women don’t need makeup, it’s a plus.

  45. babyB says:

    After reading this, I will most definitely step my make-up game up from just liner, mascara, and lip gloss. I love make-up, yet somehow never wear much!

  46. nicholson says:

    i loooooooove makeup! Cant live without it! I am a makeup artist(benefit cosmetics) and i agree with Sam Fine, just do the basics, it will go a looooonngggg way.

  47. Indigo says:

    It’s funny how makeup can help and hurt some people. lol

  48. Indigo says:

    An eyelash curler,Rosebud Salve,Vasine and mascara…Is my daily routine. My natural skin glows and is dewy so I always look like I have on makeup when I don’t. But when I do,do a full face, I use BM power,full coverage, and not heavy. JMO.. MAC is over rated,I’m from NYC and I’ve yet to see an AA female look…what’s the word y’all use now.. “beat” lol They always look tacky,especially the ones that work at the MAC counter and Sephora. Look like they have been gangband by a box of Crayons. MAC is too heavy! Urban Decay for me,beats MAC and Lorac is simple quality.

    I see alot of females out with tired, dingy eyes… That kills any look. Eyedrops should also be a must have.

  49. Indigo says:


  50. Joycieg says:

    My mother does’t wear make up, but I once I started wearing make up at 20 she asked my sister to take me Fashion Fair counter for a make up lesson. I learnt the basics and I’ve worn make up ever since I was 20/21. Since then, I created developed some make up tips of my own:

    1. Spend money on your foundation/concealer/powder and get your base (foundation etc) tested/matched by a black make up artist/ assistant on the counter. Most white make up artists/assistant don’t understand Black skin tones and have received little or no training from the cosmetic company.

    2. Get testers before you buy. If the cosmetic company doesn’t provide test, get a very small travel container and take it to the counter. MAC have very small containers to you can buy.

    3. Choose a celebrity who the make up style you like or has similar skin tone to you and note down the products they use in magazine photo shoots it’s usually listed at bottom of the page or the bottom left corner of the page, bookmark online press pictures etc. Then try and find similar colors.

    4: Youtube!!

    Brands I like: Bobbi Brown (great Dark brown eyeshadows), MAC for eyeshadows, blushes, lipsticks; Nars for foundations, eyeshadows and blushes, nice red lips colors; Make Up Forever-love their foundations and concealers; Illamasqua has great great blushes. YSL and Lancome have just increased and improved their color range and formulation, so has Chanel.

    Drugstore: Wet In Wild have good eyeshadows, Miliani also have good eyeshadows and blushes. Cover girl Queen is ok too. Brit Company Sleek Make up have the best drugstore blushes and eyeshadow palettes; plus the ship to the US and Canada.

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