The Evolution of (Black) Beauty
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The Evolution of (Black) Beauty


– Hi.
– Hey. – You’re not–
– I’m not. Azie has moved on to other projects, and we’re sad to see her go, but also excited to
see what she does next. – To get your Azie fix, make sure to follow her
on Twitter and Instagram. I’ll miss her ledgers! In the meantime, Hallease
will be stepping in to help me to continue to
bring you all the funnies. – So let’s get into it! (upbeat jazz music) – Hello everyone, and
welcome to my channel. Today I’m gonna show you my
every day, simple routine. So, if you wanna know how
I went from this, to this, please keep on watching. First, let’s make sure our complexion is presentable and fair. This blemish cream fades all
darkness’ and imperfections. If you want to be light and bright, try Tan Away! Coupon code in the video description box. Now that our skin is prepped, let’s play in some makeup. Now, you’ll want to use the proper shade for your complexion. There’s one other shade in this range. I’ll swatch it for you. It’s nice, isn’t it? Check my channel out next week, when I go through my
high curl tutorial next. – How do I look? – Human beings have valued
beauty for a long time. Winged eyeliner’s been on point since the Ancient Egyptians! It’s the way we communicate
how much money we have, our social status, and
values like modesty. – But the perception and definition of beauty morphs over time, and our society is no different. I mean, makeup trends went from this to this in just a couple of years. – And when it comes to Black beauty? Consider our cocoa
butter curiosity piqued. We wanna learn more! – Finding the beauty in
all our shades and textures has a complex history that’s
changed with the times, just like the depiction of women in advertising, for eaxmple. – Some of it warms our hearts, and some of it makes us cringe. – So, instead of attempting to define and explain everything. – Which is high key impossible. – We picked three products or items: one in hair care, one in
skincare, and one in makeup to show you just how far the far the world of black beauty has come. – And, ah, research. – Let’s do this, yes. – We can learn about, oh! – Yes, I’m going straight for it. Consistent, beautiful. Oh, that’s a lot, that’s a lot, okay. – I have a pallet, I
have a couple pallets. And, you’re like, “Evelyn,
you don’t wear eyeshadow.” So, I’ll buy them. – You remember your momma having to do. (Evelyn laughs) And then parting the read sea (laughs). – You want some? – Sure, mist me. I’ve got my glasses on, but whatever. – Oh, look at the baby.
– Look at these perfectly manicured ‘fros. – Okay, that’s not real. – [Hallease] That’s not. First product, head wraps! – Oh, that’s all me, that is all me. – I mean, I’m wearing one too, but okay. I’m wearing one too. – Wait, where did we find
out about head wraps? – Yeah, okay. When you think of head wraps now, you probably imagine stunning models with sky-high pieces of
colorful patterned fabric. And Evelyn, I guess you
think of Evelyn too. But historically, in the U.S., Black women covered their hair
for more practical reasons. You can imagine imagine slave owners didn’t particularly care about hygienic working conditions, or, because it was the law. – [Evelyn] Ah, yes, tee-known, tig-non? I know it had to do with the French. Creole, tignon! – The same gross logic that empowered slave owners to forcibly shave the
heads of enslaved women, made an appearance in 1786, when Spanish colonial
Governor Don Esteban Miro enacted the Edict of Good Government, also called the Tignon Laws. It prohibited Creole women
of color in New Orleans from displaying excessive
attention to dress. – Basically, some of ya’ll are little too light skinned, or your bundles are a little too luxurious and we can’t have you have you out here whipping your curls
around looking this fly. So they were forced to wear
a scarf or handkerchief called a tignon as a public signifier that they belonged to the slave class. Even if they were free. – Louisiana has always been unique because French and Spanish colonial rule worked a lot differently than the English. The Spanish law of coartacion
put a market value, and actual price on and enslaved person, and stated that if you
could raise that money, you could buy back your freedom. – Now before you go praising this particular flavor of colonizer, it was just a different strategy. The idea was, if they allowed somewhat of a Black middle class to exist, the institution of
slavery would last longer. But plot twist, now you’ve
got a growing population of free Black people, you
got hella mixed people, and Louisiana is now a little
too much of a melting pot. – Before the tignon laws, free women of color in New Orleans would use beads, feathers, and other forms of jewelry in their hair, adding to their exotic allure. – That’s kinda gross.
– Yeah. – So, Governor Don Esteban
thought a piece of fabric would dim a sista’s light. He thought we’d look homely. Homeboy was sadly mistaken. Come through head wrap with vibrant colors and elaborate tying techniques! You betta give us Marie Laveau, both the historical figure and Angela Bassett’s flawless
television adaptation! – Because we are who we
are, and we do what we do, we turned it into something beautiful, continuing to cover our
hair throughout the decades, cooperating with businesses in African nations to source fabric. Even our Creole Queen used it
to call back to her culture! – Good hair, bad hair, I am not my hair. Instead of researching relaxers, or making fun of Jheri curls. Actually, let’s do that. – Yeah, let’s do that, yeah. ♪ Just let your soul glow ♪ ♪ Just let it shine through ♪ ♪ And just let your soul glow, baby ♪ ♪ Feeling, oh, so silky smooth ♪ ♪ Just let it shine through ♪ ♪ Just let your soul glow ♪ – Like hair, skin tone has such a deep-rooted hold
on our perception of beauty. It was used as descriptor
in slave records, and had very real violent implications when it came to social structures. It could determine one’s
fate as an enslaved person. In a world of 10-step skincare routines, and black don’t crack, we wanted to see how far our
complexion products have come. – So, we found that
skin lightening products emerged for the Black elite in D.C. Around the 1840s and 50s, and continued after emancipation into the early 20th Century. These days, ingredients like hyrdoquinone are used to block the enzyme present in the melanin-producing process. But, not much is known
about the ingredients used back then, or their effectiveness. But we do have throwback advertisements. I mean, the names of
these products are wild. Doctor Read’s Magic Face Bleach? Tan Off, Black Skin Remover? – So, there’s and ad
by The Colored American which dates February 15th, 1902. And on this ad, we have, you know, the title is “Black Skin Remover”, “A wonderful face bleach
and hair straightener”, and has a before image
of a darker skinned woman with kinkier hair, and
then the after image is a very, very fair woman
with straight hair in a bun. The words to even describe that, or the fact that, that ad was
even playing on insecurities of Black seeming to be
negative, seeming to be poor, seeming to be everything that
you would not want to be, has definitely been
detriment to Black culture. – Now, even though
white-passing was a thing, it’s an oversimplification to assume people with dark complexions
who used these products wanted to be white. Folks were more concerned
with the color complex within Black communities. Remember, skin tone could
impact how you’d go on to fair in the world. What jobs you’d get hired for and how you’d be treated. Nobody was under the delusion that they would actually become white. These products simply played to the realities of being black. – You know, this is not called the place of the American
Dream for no reason. Everyone wants to
participate in that dream and wants the very best for themselves. And, if this is a way to get there, then maybe, you know, in
this desperate attempt to be seen as human, to be
recognized, to be appreciated. Then, I need to straighten
my hair, discolor my skin, and then maybe society will
become a more bearable place. – Whew, that’s heavy. – A little bit. – We need some comedy. – Yes, yeah. ♪ Just let yourself ♪ ♪ Glow, oh! ♪ – And we’re back!
– Yeah! And to be clear, we’re not saying that in the olden days everybody struggled to
accept their beauty. The Lonesome Hearts column from the African American newspaper, the New York Interstate Tattler, that ran from 1929 to the early 1930s showed that yes, skin tone
was always top of mind, and used to describe
someone before, say, height. And yes some valued features
that supported colorism, but also yes, some
people liked being brown and felt worthy of asking
for a love connection. Whether it’s an ad, a tabloid column, or music in movies, mass media can give you
a peek into society. Much like hair, representation
of different skin tones in the media increased over time, albeit super slowly. – [Male] Yes, your natural
expression of pride is beautifully expressed with Afro Sheen. Afro Sheen, beautiful products,
for a beautiful people. – And while we’d all love to believe we’re free thinkers above the influence of pop culture, seeing different types of people lauded as desirable and beautiful shape the way we feel about ourselves! So when superstar James Brown screamed “say it loud,
I’m Black and I’m proud” with his hit 1968 song, people felt that. – He didn’t say, I’m
medium brown, or like, I’m Black, but not like
Black-Black, and that matters. Though skin-bleaching creams
are now generally taboo, or at least reason for pause in internet ridicule and
pity, they still exist. On one hand, thanks to social
media and beauty gurus, there’s more hashtag melanin
on camera than ever before! But the same issues follow us on the web. – You’re probably wondering, Jackie, what the hell was the point of
you wasting all this makeup. Like what, what was the end goal? What was there to learn here? What is the topic of discussion? When you say stuff like,
I don’t take color, you just, you end up looking
like this, silly as hell. – With our mass return
to natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and the influx of Black-owned brands catering to melanin’s unique needs, now skincare products focus on a glow, ensuring that you shine
bright like a diamond, no matter your skin tone. – Rihanna, let’s talk about makeup. – [Hallease] Yes, yeah. – Shout out to Anthony Overton for our first look, hastag notspon. He was a black lawyer
with a chemistry degree who saw that women of color didn’t have much to choose from when it came to makeup. In about 1900, he formulated a face powder in the color High Brown and it was a hit. He made sure the
ingredients weren’t harmful, he expanded the shade range to nut-brown, olive tone, brunette, and flesh pink. Huh, that last shade name is questionable, but Overton gave us more than any other brand did
at the time, a legend. (upbeat jazz music) – A big obstacle for
Black makeup manufacturers like Overton was that
department stores refused to carry their products, so they had to sell door-to-door. Even media mogul John H.
Johnson ran into difficulties. Imagine, the creator of
Ebony and Jet magazine, bastions of Black beauty, struggling to convince department stores and existing makeup brands
to expand their offerings. So, in 1958 he made his own. It’s because of him, and his wife Eunice, that our grandmas and aunties were able to purchase Fashion Fair
for all their looks. (upbeat jazz music) – Nearly 100 years after Overton
blessed us with High Brown, supermodel Iman created
Iman Cosmetics in 1994. Using her name and fame to call attention to the continued lack
of diversity in makeup, not just for Black women
but for all women of color. But, to this day, models and actresses and even regular folks at the
makeup counter at the mall, deal with uneducated
makeup artists or brands unwilling to offer darker shades. So, once again, someone
had to shake up the game. (upbeat jazz music) – Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty
blew the beauty world’s mind because at its launch in 2017, the makeup isle still looked like this. – Overton would be so disappointed. – I mean, don’t get me wrong, Covergirl Queen Collection
came in clutch circa 2007, but I remember friends
having to drive around and figure out which store
stocked certain brands. And while Fenty Beauty
wasn’t the first makeup brand to have a large shade
range, I see you Lancome, they were smart about
advertising that they did. – I mean, Rihanna’s face
certainly helps, but it’s true! When I look up reviews on YouTube, I add for dark skin at
the end of every search. I need to know you’re
giving me something deeper than a toasted almond! – Fenty’s forty shades coupled with products
that promoted the idea of a glow adds to the excitement and cemented the shift
in standards of beauty from dull and powdery to
moisturized and beaming. (upbeat jazz music) – And if you want to really know who’s doing the Lord’s work? Balanda Atis is a cosmetic chemist and manager of L’oreal’s
Women of Color Lab and has invented 30 new shades. Science! No more Dark 003. – Much like names, the
way you present yourself has implications in the outside world. Discrimination in the
workplace and schools are prime examples of how
perceptions of Black beauty and even cleanliness are
politicized and punished. The products and practices
we’ve used over the years to enhance our beauty
tie back to one thing. As humans we just want to be accepted. And if our appearance is
the reason for alienation, we invent ways to tailor our looks to the requirements of the day. It’s not shameful, it’s
a form of survival. – Every dark skinned beauty guru striving for visibility on social media, every person whipping up concoctions for curls, coils, and kinks, and every parent walking up to the school to defend their child’s
hairstyle deemed distracting. It’s our perseverance and ingenuity not society’s kindness that has allowed us to make the strides we have. So, how has your idea of
beauty changed over the years? Who’s your beauty icon, let us know! – [Hallease] If you enjoy
watching Say it Loud then you’ll probably like our friends over at America From Scratch! It’s another PBS Digital Studios show that explores questions like, what might the U.S. be like if it was founded today? And what if there were no states? Should we lower our voting age? Should we colonize Mars? It’s basically your civics class, but fun! Check out America from Scratch at the link in the description below. – [Evelyn] Click here to watch
more episodes of Say it Loud, click here to watch Danielle
from Origin of Everything, and click here to watch Vox explain more about the makeup industry. And we’ll see you next time. Bye!
– Bye! (upbeat jazz music) (soft bells)

About Ralph Robinson

Read All Posts By Ralph Robinson

100 thoughts on “The Evolution of (Black) Beauty

  1. Thanks for all the laughs and ledgers, Azie! Follow her on IG and Twitter @aziedee 💜💜 and WHEW we tried it with these wigs! Thanks for watching y’all 😂

  2. This is a fantastic channel. I died at the Coming to America roast. But really, this is a fantastic channel. My heart hurts that it’s needed to be explained “we’re humans, too.”

  3. Ladies! I just discovered you and I'm in love with you! You guys absolutely rock! Love the style. Can't imagine how much work goes into making those videos. Hats (I mean headwraps) off!

  4. Dark is the opposite of light. Dark is not the opposite of fair. Black people, please be cognizant of the words you use and their repercussions that we see played out in colorism. Stop calling light people 'fair'' skin when contrasting their tone against dark skin. If you absolutely have to say fair then use melinated as it's opposite. Words are powerful and racist undertones lie so heavily in our language yet its us who are deeply affected. To call light skin 'fair skin' is also saying dark skin is unfair or bad.

  5. I'm white as paper but i love watching this channel. I'm from London so I grew up around a plethora of cultures and races, and it's nice to learn the reasons WHY my black friends did certain things (for example beauty/haircare routines).

  6. Please, please, please don't think I'm trying to say I understand in any way the experiences you have had as women of color, but… (I hate making sentences start that way). I have to laugh just a little at the waiting game for a foundation that is created for your tones. It's absolutely ridiculous that people refused to sell or market varied tones until more recent decades, and I'm glad that they are getting more out there all the time. It's crazy that people still try and bleach their skin, but I can tell you it's a real thing – even with "white" people. See, I have freckles – a skin tone crime in the eyes of my grammie. She made me use bleaching creams from the time I was in 3rd grade to try and fade my freckles. No good – just hurt and caused damage. And trying to find a foundation that works with freckles… hahahaha – that's so sweet. So, I don't wear foundation. I don't get to use concealer when the hormone train says "hey, so what if you're 50; you can still get zits." I mean, I could use concealer, but it looks funny because it's either too brown or too pale, or both because the zit is right in the middle of a freckle field. But, yeah, don't think I consider myself to even have a quarter of a clue about what it's like to grow up as a POC in this culture – I know better than that. But, I can sympathize a bit with the struggle to find face makeup that works. <Insert eyeroll here.>
    BTW – I love watching these videos – this was my second one. They are very informative and educational, and I intend to watch many more. Great work!

  7. I can't believe black women's beauty was outlawed – it's just abuse at the most fundamental level shheeeeeeeeeeeeeesh

  8. My mom and myself love face bleach. We’re white but aging along with damage from sun creates dark blotches not cute freckles and not even dark complexion. Y’all have beautiful skin! In the make up section at the store I notice more and more options for women of color. Ohhhh you ladies can wear the most beautiful colors! If I tried some of those colors I’d look like a crackhead Chuckie doll…. There is an eyeshadow palette with metallic golds, bronzes, greens and so much more! And y’all have those beautiful curls!

  9. African cultural retention continues to have the greatest influence on the changing concept of black beauty. White supremacy continues to have an aggressive onslaught on blackness.

  10. Viola Desmond was a black Canadian businesswoman who launched her own beauty supply line and founded her own beauty school. She was also a civil rights activist and her portrait is now featured on the Canadian ten dollar bill!

  11. I felt so heartbroken when Nadia Sasso mentioned people wanted to change their appearance, like skin bleaching and hair straightening, just to be seen as human, and for society to become a better place. I felt that in my soul. No one deserves/d to feel that way.

  12. Thank you for these video! We use them in our homeschooling classes! I wanted to add 2 things.
    1st. Before class was divided by race, it was divided by color or skin tone. Throughout most of history, if you had a tan or darker skin tone, this ment that you were someone who didn't have the luxury to stay in the cool of the shade or indoors. For most of the known world:
    Light skin = lazy rich
    Dark skin = hardworking poor.
    Regardless of your race or ethnicity.
    2nd. Head wraps and turbans did not originate from these Louisiana laws. (You never stated that, I just didn't wish it to be assumed)
    Head wraps and turbans have been used for practical reasons for thousands of years in almost every cultural on earth. They weren't always considered "high fashion" (like they were in Europe & America in the early 1800s for example) so there isn't alot of ancient art depicting head wraps or turbans, there are some. It's difficult to say which specific styles originated from which specific regions or cultures. Personally I hate that there were laws that forced clothing styles based on class, but I know it was common practice, again throughout history, region, and culture.

    Keep up the good work!

  13. Let's include some ADOS (descendants of American slaves) models next time when we are discussing African American history. It's just respectful. I would NEVER venture to discuss Jamaican history while neglecting to use Jamaican models if I'm in Jamaica. I can understand if you're outside the country and just using any black person to discuss ADOS history, but in America, we need to ALWAYS include at least SOME ADOS's when discussing our history and contributions to America and the world. It's alienating and disrespectful otherwise. It's an increasing trend in American media and movies, and is very disrespectful.

  14. I know it’s not quite the same but I always always ALWAYS struggled finding makeup pale enough for me in my teens and early 20s. Honestly I’ve found that brands who make more inclusive products for darker skin tones ALSO expand their products somewhat to match very pale people too. So like it wasn’t really the intent but that whole movement to be more inclusive helped this super pale white girl too lmao ❤️

  15. I’m Asian but I think black women are the most beautiful people in the world. Like I love their healthy dark curly hair. African Americans are so different and also extremely diverse. And I think their dark skin is so shiny and beautiful. Just the natural glow they have is so desirable to me. It makes any colour on their skin pop. It’s just my opinion lol

  16. I literally stubbled upon one of yalls videos and im almost tgru watching all of them now and hour later lol!!! I LOVE THIS SHOW!! and i share everyone i watch on my fb!!!
    Yay! #sayitloud

  17. Is it wrong I got makeup application tips from this segment? Lol. I don't really wear makeup but I've thought about it. I have no clue where to start and it all looks like to much work. I've settled on a BB cream, but even that is stressful. I have no makeup icon but i really like seeing women with a darker complection be made up well.

  18. I’m mixed Filipino and growing up in the Philippines, at a young age I noticed almost every skin product had whitening properties, but I’ve always loved my natural skin tone so that never resonated with me. I was told that the Filipinos of European Spanish descent were seen as upper class, with more pale complexions, while the indigenous Filipinos were lower class, the ones who did hard labor outside on farms etc and were more tan because of that. I wasn’t satisfied with that explanation. Alas, after 300 years of Spanish colonization followed by British, japan and the United States, it seems the effects of colonialism runs deep. But fair skin was also revered wayyy back centuries ago in ancient China, back in the Han dynasty having a round moon like face against jet black hair was all the rage… there’s also the geishas in Japan.. fashion and make up trends is an interesting and revealing avenue to research about the society at the time!! Great channel, just found you guys and I’m definitely subscribing

  19. I used to pinch my lips together so they looked smaller, even though they're neither big nor small. Now I wear lip color just outside the lip line to create a fuller impression. I don't care for the excess contouring they do these days though. All that concealer conceals the natural skin texture. Why hide healthy skin if you have it? I think Drag queens have come to influence how black women makeover their faces, but we are already feminine. We don't have to fool anyone into looking like women, well, most of the time.

  20. I guess my beaty-icon was in the nineties: Naomi Campbell. I got her sleek hairdo. Two people actually said I looked like her (!)

  21. Honest question, please don't hate me.
    I'm Latinx and I have always loved head wraps, would love to try to style with them; also, I have a shitload of hair, so they seem to be very practical! However, because I am not Black, I'm technically Brown, I have not done it for fear of insulting anyone or it coming across like cultural appropriation in a negative way*. So, ladies, would it be OK for me to try it or no? Thanks! Love your channel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

    *I said in a negative way because, for example, braids are very much a staple of latino women, but white women wear them too. I don't find this offensive myself, so that's why I'm making that differentiation.

  22. Earlier today I was like, ' what am I doing with my life?' then I watch this video and you told me what I'm doing is useful. So, I just wanted to say thanks. I'll keep whipping up concoctions for curls, quirks, and kinks.

  23. “This particular flavour of colonizer… “
    I died.

    Like… I’ll have And English cone, a French waffle cone, and a Spaniard with sprinkles, please… wait, on second thought I’ll take Freedom in a bowl, with sprinkles too. Oh? Sold out—but it says it in the board? Not even a small bowl?… oh.. costs extra? How much? Two revolutions and a railroad… and I still only get one scoop? Sounds…ugh, great. I’ll uh, take it..

  24. This was an absolutely wonderful and enlightening video! As a historian especializing in history of fashion/beauty, we (historians) rarely see representations or vast documentation of lower class people and/or people of color regarding fashion and beauty.Perhaps you could do a video on the evolution of black fashion?

    Thank you for the great video once again!

  25. I think the biggest market for skin bleaching products is now in East Asia? Which is honestly so sad, not only because of colourism but also the fact that those creams are imported illegally a lot of the time aka they're full of poison

  26. A really interesting book about a woman's journey 'passing' in the early 20th century is 'Plum Bun' by Jessi Redmon Fauset. It was written by a woman, back in 1928!

  27. Ever since…forever, I wanted to style myself like Grace Jones. My dad is a big ole fan of hers so I grew up with her music but her style captivated me from a young age. I swear there's a block of Halloween photos of me as GJs thru-out different periods of her life. GJ's is the female David Bowie……and that is the most apt thing I have ever written lol.

  28. Just watched this and it just was inspiring. I'm not a woman of color, but it makes me so happy to see the beauty community evolving to include EVERYONE! My grandparents are kind of really racist, and I've always been so scared to speak up because I'm young. Videos like these and the increasing community of people speaking up against the ongoing problem of racism have inspired me to speak up! Keep doing what you're doing! You inspire people!

  29. I love it that black wonen are going natural. The relaxer industry has done you wrong. The makeup and fashion industries have done all women wrong. We are beautiful as we come. So rock an afro, wear locs, or just do you. I do me, too.

  30. Yooo yall forgot about the Hot comb and the flat iron. If that isnt a universally shared black hair experience idk what is! Lol

  31. My view changed when I had my kids. I wanted them to grow up seeing me fully embrace my curls, brown skin and broad nose. I wanted them to see me embracing my culture as well as eagerly learn about others. I wanted them to know I may change up my hair but I’m never ashamed of it. They aren’t as brown as me but they will be proud of their tan skin and curls and know they a part of strong, beautiful people who may bend but never break

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