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Shyema Azam, the Editorial Director of Tinted, on Why Beauty Companies Need to Focus on Darker Skin Tones

When the digital platform, Tinted, landed on the scene in the beginning of the year, we rejoiced. Billed as a platform for “all the shades in between,” Tinted offers people who feel like their skin tone has been ignored by the beauty industry a place to connect. Here, we chat with Shyema Azam, Tinted’s editorial director.

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Why was Tinted created?

I’ve known YouTuber Deepica Mutyala for years and she told me about this company she started about how there’s not enough representation for brown girls and there’s not a lot beauty products that speak to us. As an Indian woman, I was obviously interested.

Tinted is a social first digital platform where we talk about issues between these mid to deep tone women, but it overlaps different cultures as well. It’s not just an Indian or Southeast Asian thing. We talk to a lot of mixed race people because I feel like we share a lot of issues in terms of life and concerns with beauty.

Our tagline is “For all the shades in between” because when I was growing up and I looked at magazines, the people never looked like me, and beauty companies often make light, medium, dark shades, but not the shades between.

Do you have a large Asian following?

There’s a lot of Asian and mixed races who I feel like our content speaks to them because there’s a lot of shared issues, in terms of culture, relationships with beauty standards, expectations, and the idea of skin whitening.

We did a whole week on colorism and that’s when a lot of those issues came out. Culturally, there’s a lot of people who favor lighter skin and grew up with these products like Fair and Lovely that actually are supposed to make you look lighter. People developed a bit of insecurity with these thoughts of “If I don’t look a certain way and if I have visible pores, then it’s not beautiful.” A lot of people approach us in terms of skin care and  ask us questions focused on complexion.

The demographic of Tinted has gravitated more towards whitening products, but the biggest thing about Tinted is making our consumers feel happy about their skin shade. So it’s not about whitening, but brightening and evening out your skin, which is something different, and needs to be explained further with a lot of Korean “whitening” products that actually mean they will brighten your skin.

We also try to address undertones a lot more. We’re trying to educate our readers that it’s not just your skin color, it’s also your undertone, and that is why a lot of these skin care companies are missing it and they’re labeling undertones in a way that’s not really comprehensible. One of our goals is to demystify undertones, and in that way, try to create something for the community that they can understand so they can be smarter about they purchases.

What are companies getting wrong about undertones?

They are not realizing how nuanced those shades are and that there are certain shades that are missed because of that. For example, when you’re darker, you can have a pink undertone, and some companies don’t get that.  They also don’t make products for darker tones in enough quantities.

With the popularity of Fenty Beauty and its 40 shades, do you think the beauty industry will start catering to “all the shades in between”?

I think lately, after Fenty, it’s becoming trendy to focus on other skin tones, and now Maybelline and Nars are adding colors. I feel like it was more an afterthought and now it’s more of a forethought. 

A large thing that people always talk to us about is the fact that they always have to mix shades, so that’s a big issue. And that’s something I always done my whole life, and I feel like now it’s getting a bit better. I think companies will now be catering to this demographic more.

With that said, what is your favorite foundation?

I think Fenty is amazing, but it’s a little bit dry, so if you’re dry already, it might be too dry. Since my skin is combo, I mix my Fenty foundation with another foundation I like. Maybelline Super Stay is a great foundation. And Jouer just came out its Essential High Coverage Foundation with 50 shades and it’s really good, so I’m just really proud of them for being so inclusive.

OK, onto skin care! What’s your routine?

For my cleanser, I use the Glamglow Supercleanse. It’s a gray cleanser that’s a blend of three charcoals that’s gentle but effective in removing my makeup at the end of the day. Then I use the Yllo Turmeric Scrub once a week for extra exfoliating. I grew up with my mom using turmeric masks and it’s a huge ingredient for us in skin care since it’s a great anti-inflammatory and helps with brightening and getting rid of acne marks.

For toner, SK II has been a staple of mine that I love using at the end of the day to remove any excess dirt. It also preps my skin for any serums I may use at the end of the night. For moisturizer, I use the Silk Therapeutics moisturizer. I’m obsessed with vitamin E and the Silk proteins help keep my skin hydrated and feel less congested. The whole line has changed my skin.

Whenever I travel, I always take packets of Dr. Jart’s Cicapair Tiger Grass Nightly Re.Pair Mask. I love that it already comes in individual packets so it’s great to throw in your bag, and easy to apply on the plane (for my long haul flights), or before bed. I feel like it makes my skin feel revitalized, firm, and stronger, and way more moisturized, which I need while I travel. It also helps to replenish my skin when it feels like it’s just looking dull.

What are the skin issues you deal with as an Indian woman? What are the best products for treating them?

I think hyperpigmentation is one of my biggest issues. Acne scarring stays a lot longer and unevenness in general. I try to deal with it by masking a LOT (again, Dr. Jart’s masks are my favorites), and I love anything with licorice as an ingredient because that helps lighten those darker areas. I just realized in general as I’m getting older that staying hydrated with your skin care and just drinking water alleviates a lot of those issues! DDF also makes a really great Discoloration Reversal product I love when I’m desperate.

What do you wish existed in the skin care world for women of darker skin tones?

It feels like almost everything exists in skin care right now! But I wish people would STOP making products that market to lighten or whiten skin…products that focus on brightening and evening out your skin are great but otherwise I’d love for skin care companies to help us celebrate the skin color we’re in, when traditionally we hadn’t seen much of that growing up, especially in the Indian markets.

I think otherwise, if they made a product that would reverse dark eye circles for good, you’re sitting on a gold mine, since many women with darker skin tones really deal with dark circle issues. A big question we get from our readers is how to get rid of under eye circles and which products will make that area brighter.

+ Have you checked out Tinted? What do you think about it? Share your thoughts below!

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