We have a new collective girl crush: L’Oréal chemist Balanda Atis, whose research at the company (including discovering a new foundation pigment specifically good for dark skin tones) as well as her own personal experience with shopping for makeup, triggered the brand to open its Women of Color Lab in New Jersey. In a profile in Fast Company this week, she states her mission is to make sure women in each of the 140 countries where the company’s products are available have makeup suited to the texture and color of their skin. And the data shows that her efforts are necessary.


“The colors were often too red, giving the skin a bruised look, or too black, making the skin look muddy,” Atis said of the foundation shades previously available for women of color.

Yes, despite the attention placed on addressing different skin tones in recent years, the beauty industry still has a long way to go in the diversity department. And part of the problem is the market perception—typically women of color spend less on makeup (a recent NPD study found that 42 percent of black women use makeup, compared with 64 percent of Caucasian women), but the story quotes an industry analyst who speculates that’s because they simply have fewer options, not less interest. (Hispanic women, though, buy more makeup than any other demographic, according to a recent Nielsen study.) So we’re happy to hear someone like Atis is on the case and that she’s well on her way, having already created 30 new shades across L’Oréal’s brands, including Maybelline and Lancôme.

It’s both impressive and encouraging. We can’t wait to see what she and her team develop next.

You can read the entire profile on Fast Company.