Cocoa Swatches: An App for Underrepresented Complexions

Cocoa Swatches: An App for Underrepresented Complexions

What began as an Instagram account with few followers, now has 61.2K followers and is a phone app, Cocoa Swatches.

Founder, Ofunne Amaka, created the application in order to clarify any misinformation about makeup for those with darker complexions. Under 30 years old, Amaka’s Instagram account began with images of make up swatches. Fairly new, the Cocoa Swatches phone application can now be easily carried in your pocket and with a tap of your finger, you can have access to a swatch directory and much more.

The relationship between people of color and the makeup industry is still severely problematic. Complexions and foundations just don’t match up. The four pigments used to create a shade of foundation are white, yellow, red, and black. In order to darken the shade, black, red, and yellow should be mixed in; however, too much of a certain hue can create a false color. When applied to one’s skin, too much red or yellow results in an orange finish and too much black has the result of a bruise. In short, makeup lines are failing people of color.

According to WWD, black women spend $7.5 billion annually. Furthermore, in the UK, mixed race is the “fastest growing minority,” proving that complexions around the globe are rapidly changing. Makeup brands like Lancôme and Mac have started to take note — with Lancôme releasing a line for women of color that includes 18 new hues. Brands are changing because our world is changing.

Through social media, frustrated black people of color have begun to speak out against recent controversies and limitations surrounding certain makeup lines. Hashtag campaigns like #blackgirlmagic have sparked powerful wind storms for people of color — promoting positivity, solidarity and strength.

Enter: Cocoa Swatches.

Amaka hails from Nigerian descent and works consistently on uplifting black women in media. After completing her Masters of Communications at Columbia University, she began to invest her research in Cocoa Swatches.

The app curates swatches for users and showcases how different shades of makeup will appear on darker complexions, creating a much easier and beneficial shopping experience for those in need of a new line, new lipstick, or new base foundation. Amaka has created a positive force with Cocoa Swatches, a platform that aids costumers and makeup artists in finding a perfect shade for themselves or for their client. The app is based on the user’s skin tone and undertone, products on the market, and, additionally, provides makeup tricks.

While mainstream brands are carrying a larger array of darker foundation shades and improving their palettes overall, there is still, and always will be, more room for development and growth. Makeup and beauty products should be discrimination free.

Amaka told Mic in an interview that she wants, “Cocoa Swatches to be a safe space. People feel like they can voice some of the grievances they’ve had and people don’t say that they’re crazy. We’ve all probably experienced similar things, and feel like we’re being ignored. So I think it’s vital to create a community around that.”