Things that are worth the wait: a Beyoncé visual album, good wine, and the launch of Ami Colé cosmetics.
Three years ago, Senegalese-American brand founder Diahrra N'Diaye-Mbaye teased on her personal social media pages that she was launching a new beauty brand, named after her beloved mother. Full disclosure, I know Diahrra, and have been anticipating the launch ever since she announced it.
Knowing her personal aesthetic, I knew exactly what to expect: products that give you clean-looking, glowing skin and don't take a lot of effort to put on. Something for the girlies who go to brunch in Harlem, but can't be bothered to do a cut crease for the occasion (or any occasion, cheap vibramycin prices for that matter). The girls who dip their finger in a shadow, swipe it on their lids, and then quickly run over it with a blending brush to soften the edges. They aren't layering powders. They aren't doing any heavy contouring. They may not even be wearing foundation — just concealer in a few specific areas.
Ami Colé's brand ethos embodies that vibe: Perfected, glowing skin that doesn't take a lot of work. Makeup that is polished but not a hassle to put on. It just so happens to be the way I, and many other people I know, like to wear makeup.
The initial launch includes three products. First is its Skin-Enhancing Tint (which is already a best seller for the brand), which wears and feels like a BB cream with its soft, smooth consistency that is meant to not only provide buildable coverage, but also a shot of moisture to your skin with baobab seed oil. Next is the Lip Treatment Oil, which works as an intense moisturizer for your lips, but looks and feels like a gloss. Finally, there's the Light-Catching Highlighter, which comes in a single shade. It feels almost like one of those sunscreen sticks you use for your face, and goes on more like a moisturizing glaze — which just so happens to be the name of the one, universal shade it comes in.
The hero product of the brand is easily its Skin-Enhancing Tint ($22). I received shades Medium 1 and Deep 2, but since I have yet to tan, the former was more in line with what my skin tone looks like now. There are six shades in all, for medium to deep skin tones.
One thing I would be remiss not to highlight here is the fact that all the skin tint hues are made with neutral, yellow, or golden undertones. I cannot emphasize enough how much of a difference that makes. I typically steer clear of base products that aren't concealer because more often than not, they look strange on me. I don't know who told the makeup industry at large that having brown skin automatically means your undertones are red, but it couldn't be further from the truth. My undertones are decidedly yellow when I'm pale, and golden when I've got a tan.
While there are base products that are in the same general shade family as my skin tone, more often than not, they skew red or orange, and it bothers me to no end. I like my skin to look like my skin, even if I'm wearing something to even it out. I'm not the only one who's noticed this.
In my conversations with many melanin-rich folks, this often comes up when we discuss our difficulties finding a base that truly matches. "They absolutely do mostly skew red," makeup artist Michela Wariebi tells me. "And when a brand does try to do golden and yellow undertones, they often aren't rich enough."
So, no, I'm not imagining things — take it from a pro! And please, for those it may concern, try to create more options for those of us brown-skinned folks who don't have red undertones. There are a lot more of us than you think.
Now, back to the skin tint. I started by applying a few globs of Medium 1 to my face, then rubbing everything in. Usually, I have to blend in a base product to know whether or not it's going to be a good match for my skin tone, but surprisingly, I didn't have to do that. Even the globs I initially applied to my face nearly disappeared before I blended them into my skin.
This skin tint really is beautiful. It does exactly what I want a base product to do — mimic the tone and appearance of my skin enough so that I don't look like I'm wearing makeup. This stuff really delivered, and I noticed that it gave me a dewy finish and a good amount of coverage, blocking out some of the hyperpigmentation I have around my jawline. I've worn this a few times since getting it, twice on very hot days. On the warmer days, I set this with a very light dusting my Fenty Beauty powder in 360, a flawless match that lasted the test of time. When I wore it without powder, I didn't notice much transfer.
You know those moments when your lips are super dry, and you check to see if you have any lip balm on you, but all you can find is gloss? You put it on anyway because you know if you don't, you'll be licking your lips constantly — even though you're well aware that the gloss is going to do diddly squat to actually moisturize your lips. That isn't an issue with the lip treatment.
Jihan Forbes wearing Ami Colé products on her face.
The Lip Treatment Oil ($20) has the consistency of a lip gloss, but get this — it actually moisturizes your lips, thanks to the addition of baobab and camelia seed oils. I actually wound up in that exact situation — on a date no less — and I found that after a few minutes of applying the oil, my lips didn't feel as dry, plus they had a nice little wash of color. The lip oil comes in a kind of ruddy-brownish hue, which on the lips reminds me a little bit of Fenty Beauty's Hot Chocolit, but without the shimmer. It's a nice everyday hue, and it's also quite nice to have a glossy product that does the job of moisturizing my lips. It stayed put through drinks, but I had to reapply after scarfing down some fish tacos, which is to be expected.
The third product, the Light-Catching Highlighter ($22), adds a glow to your cheeks without a ton of color. It's a solid stick, and when you look at it, you can see little gold flecks trapped in a clear wax. This gives a beautiful, natural glow to your skin — it makes you look as if you just put on a moisturizer. I rubbed my finger over the product then tapped it onto my cheeks to apply. It does what it says it does: delivers a very lit-from-within vibe but doesn't look greasy on the skin.
Overall, I'm a fan of Ami Colé. As much as I love makeup, I've never been a contour-powder-bake kind of girl. There aren't very many cosmetics brands aimed at darker-skinned women that embrace a minimalist base, but this one does a beautiful job of that. If you're more of a full-coverage kind of person, this may not be your bag, though I would suggest trying the skin tint — maybe just to run errands for a few hours.
You can shop the Ami Colé products, which retail for $20 to $32, at amicole.com now and at Thirteen Lune, beginning June 1.
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