February is Black History Month in the U.S. At Monave we have put many of our most popular shades with our African American sisters on sale. You can browse these sale items here: Monave Sale Items for February.  Some prices are up to 30% off, so it’s a good time to stock up! The sale items will be available until our Spring sale sometime near April.

Island complexion
American born Julian, with a rich red-brown Island complexion

We had a customers recently email us, asking how Monave Mineral Makeup is different than other brands for African American women. The answer stretches back in time to the origins of the line itself. As a multi-ethnic woman, I found it virtually impossible to find a foundation shade to match my light olive skin. I still remember (and always will) braving for the first time, a makeup counter in the mall to try to have a salesperson from Prescriptives custom blend a shade for my skin. Her opening statement was something to the effect that my skintone was ‘sallow’, and that she would create a ‘pinker’ shade to ‘fix’ it.  Many years later, I went to another custom-blend business and had the owner tell me exactly the same thing. I insisted the second time that she match my complexion exactly, because I liked my skintone. I can say from this experience, that it hurts when someone in the beauty industry tells you that something intrinsic to your heritage is unattractive, and needs to be ‘fixed’ or ‘covered up’.

This pervades many aspects of beauty and how we see ourselves, including our body shape (naturally curvy?), facial features, and for women from the African diaspora, hair texture. In pop culture, icons such as Cher (Sarkisian), or Michael Jackson do nothing to help with multiple plastic surgeries to create more mainstream facial feaures, or lighter skin. I have cousins in my family who all have exactly the same perky ski-slope nose created by a plastic surgeonto replace the beautiful, signature Armenian shape. It takes someone telling us that we are beautiful growing up to believe it, but oftentimes, it is our mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers telling us to fix what is naturally beautiful. So we grow up never really believing in our own beauty. We may look in the mirror and see something pretty, (or not!) but we have nagging, persistent image problems that pervade our personal relationships, and our core beliefs about our self-worth.

There are many deep-rooted problems within beauty industry when it comes to the African American diaspora. Essentially, the industry doesn’t understand it from the get-go. “African-American”, or “Black” is a label that by definition uses the rascist concept of  ‘one drop’. This concept creates a classification that has nothing in common with color theory. So many makeup lines don’t recognize the huge range from light to dark, the huge variation in tones from pink, yellow, olive, copper, red, chocolate, and blue, and the dual-tone aspect of medium-to dark skin tones. There is a tendency to be heavy on the darker end, and to focus only on red and yellow undertones. In addition to this, traditional makeup from larger brands use dyes and cheaper pigments which  have a matte finish. This does not bring out the natural glow that darker skin tones exhibit.

All of these mistakes in the industry are fueled, in my opinion by poor formularies that are generated without the crucial relatioship of formulator, and client, as well as pervasive rascist classifications of people within the American identity.

Why is Monave different? I’m not a chemist. I’m a makeup artist, and my specialty is color blending, and mineral makeup. So, when I first started creating makeup, I was doing it from a void of formal education. This gave me the fantastic advantage of working without boundaries, and intellectual hindrances. The first Monave foundations (Keaira, Ashlie, Teporah, and Yolanda) were made at the Monave retail store in Baltimore in 2000, which had a clientele that was at least 50% African American . With limited access to pigments, and a simple coffee grinder, I learned from scratch, from mistakes, and from repeated applications on my clients, what worked, and what didn’t. This process led to unique formulations that have been mimicked by many smaller brands who recognize the benefits of pricier pigments. The larger brands can’t really ever compete with what we do, because their top priority is profit. Monave’s top priorities are quality and healthy ingredients.

Light, Medium, and Dark monave mineral makeup powdered foundation
monave mineral powdered foundations

So, what are the advantages of Monave for darker African American women?

1. Monave offers a huge range of mineral makeup foundation shades, natural lipsticks and glosses, as well as matte, and shimmer shadows for light, medium, medium-dark, and dark skin tones.

2. Monave has a unique formula that complements the dual-tone aspect of darker skin tones. This unique mineral formula uses two types of pigments that co-exist within the product. One mimics the darker chocolate tones around the jawline and forehead, while the other highlights the gold, copper, and red tones along the tops of the cheeks, forehead, and nose. The finished face never looks matte, or mono-chromatic, but looks just like real skin.

3. The finest pearlescent pigments are added at just the right quantity to accentuate the beautiful glow that is natural for medium-dark complexions.

4. Many African American women are health concious, and Monave uses only non-irritating mineral ingredients in the formulas. They are soothing, and skin-loving formulas that cover blemishes while removing irritants found in mainstream, and even mineral makeup brands.

5. Monave mineral make up covers! Some African American women have skin discolorations and variances that they want to even out without chemicals. Monave mineral makeup foundation offers medium coverage with a bare skin look, that never looks pasty. For even heavier coverage for more challenging blemishes, there is a special formula, called the concealer foundation formula.

6. The understanding of the true nature of the mult-ethnic complexion blend labelled ‘Black’ in this country, provides a complete selection of shades from lightest of skin tones to darkest chocolate complexions that represent the variety of undertones and overtones present in this slice of the American population.

7. Monave respects and honors the sisterhood of all American women. We do not conduct market research to determine whose dollars matter, and whose don’t. Our line is inclusive by necessity and nature, not by design, and invites all women to experience the quality of micro-formulated mineral makeup.

So, I hope this answers the question well, as to what makes Monave different for African American women. W strive to offer only the best for all women.

Teporah Bilezikan,
President, Formulator, and Founder


  • Jennifer Lewis

    I really love the way that Monave’ celebrates the unique skin of women of color. When I started using the foundation I felt like everyone should know about this; perhaps a celebrity endorsement would heighten the awareness of Monave’s wonderful products; say someone like a Jill Scott would be perfect.

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