L’Oréal Chemist Is On a Mission To Provide A Full Spectrum of Makeup for Woman of Color

In 2014, L’Oréal Paris opened the Women of Color Lab in Clark, New Jersey to create cosmetic products for women of color. Chemist Balanda Atis, who created foundation for Lupita Nyong’o's Lancôme campaign, now heads the lab.

Atis, who grew up in a Haitian community in East Orange, New Jersey, joined L’Oréal in 1999 as a researcher and gained patents for products she created in the mascara lab.
For Atis, being in the cosmetic industry is personal as she grew up not being able to find makeup that matched the skin tones of her family and friends. "The colors were often too red, giving the skin a bruised look, or too black, making the skin look muddy," she told Fast Company in an interview. 

Despite L’Oréal's attempts to cater to women of color throughout the years, Atis found the new formulations to be too pale for darker women. In 2006 Atis began to work on creating foundations for women of color as a side project. Once she presented her research to L’Oréal she began to work full-time on this project and created more than 30 new shades for women of color across L’Oréal’s brands.
Atis' new goal with the Women of Color Lab is to create makeup that matches the textures and colors of the skin of all women in each of the 140 countries where L’Oréal products can be found. "We’re always looking at new colorants and other raw materials," she said. "We want to demonstrate that we can address the needs of women of color on a global scale through scientific innovation."

You can read the entire interview here.

Photo: Benedict Evans