Hats off to some of the the bigger, mainstream brands who are trying (really hard) to cater for the darker skin tones, some which have already been featured here on the blog, and some of which will make an appearance soon. I’m lucky in that my Indian skin tone is dark, but not so dark that I can’t find a match in the well-known brands. But if you still haven’t found the perfect colour and formulation, perhaps your skin has been waiting for EX1 Cosmetics without even really knowing it. But wait no longer, your (sub-concious) dream may well have come true.
EX1 is a brand I featured many years ago when I was Beauty Editor at Asian Woman and Asian Bride magazines, and I’m excited to say I’ve rediscovered it. Founded by Farah, a woman of Asian descent who couldn’t find the perfect foundation for her problem skin, the capsule collection not only caters to the skin tones and shades but also to the variances in biophysical characteristics found in our skin. Sounds like gobbledigook to you? Not if you’ve got Asian skin; in that case you’ll know exactly what I mean. And because she comes from a scientific background, the products have been formulated to be good for you too. As important as what goes in (antioxidants, Vitamins A, C and E) it was just as crucial to create a blacklist of ingredients you will never find in EX1, such as bismuth, talc or fragrance.
The five products in the range (currently) are all you need to create a flawless look; your own skin but better. Too often, if the shade or the formulation isn’t quite right, Asian skin looks like it’s wearing a chalky mask instead of foundation – not a look I’ve ever hankered after, I must admit. The Invisiwear Liquid Foundation comes in five shades (I’m a perfect fit with the F400) and goes on well with either fingers or a foundation brush. It gives a smooth, satin finish to the skin, not too shiny and not too matte – effectively like well moisturised and even-toned skin. I’ve used this on a few days, both with a brush and with fingers, with dramatic makeup and with a softer look, just to see how it would wear. Using a brush gave me a more made-up look, whilst using my fingers gave my skin a more glowy finish. And as you can see from the photographs, it worked well with both a bold lip look and a softer, more pastel face.
The Invisiwear Compact Powder comes in three shades; I’m wearing it over the liquid foundation in the softer look, in Shade P200. It’s an extremely finely milled pressed powder, so fine that I’ve used it under the eyes to “set” concealer and it’s hasn’t settled into the fine lines. Although it’s fab for controlling unwanted shine, I think it gives a lovely radiance to the skin, and with its hint of colour, is great to wear on its own on off-duty days when you don’t want to wear foundation. I’m utterly in love with the Pure Crushed Minerals Loose Powder Foundation (I’m a shade M400). I’ve always been a huge fan of Bare Minerals foundations, so the loose powder concept is very familiar to me, (although EX1 is probably a better match for my skin tone). EX1’s minerals (5 shades available) are perfect for a very light, sheer coverage, and when the powder is buffed into the skin, it looks fresh and perfected, not at all made up. The concealers are super lightweight yet somehow offer great coverage to hide away blemishes and imperfections. They work perfectly with either a brush or fingers, whichever you fancy using, and although they look so solid in the pot, they are super-blendable. I’ve been using D200, but I think D300 would probably suit me better.
Interestingly for a brand that, so far, is concentrating on skin perfection, the range includes blushers. When I asked Farah why (yes, I’ve been lucky enough to meet her), she explained that to her, the blusher is just as important to creating a flawless, defined face as the foundations, face powders and concealers. Which kind of makes sense really when I think about it. Love Story, the deep, almost mulberry shade, looks super scary in the pot, but when on the skin and blended properly, really mimics the natural flush of Asian skin.
And that’s the point of this all. I’m sure Farah won’t mind when I say she is a woman on the verge of OCD when it comes to formulating and perfecting the right shades and formulations specifically for Asian (and exotic) skin tones. Her scientific background means that she has researched and double researched everything before it either goes in or is excluded from the range. And she has created the colours especially for Asian skins. No more making do with the best shade match you can find in a range formulated primarily for Caucasian skin. If you’re Asian, Mediterranean, mixed-race, Chinese, Middle Eastern, there’s no more need to pick the best of a bad bunch.
And before you get all “I bet it’s really expensive”, take a look at the prices. Farah’s philosophy is that good make-up for darker skins shouldn’t come at a premium. Her products are affordable, (nothing costs over £12.99), easily available (online on Look Fantastic, HQ Hair and Beauty Expert, all of which offer free worldwide delivery) yet have all the hallmarks of a designer brand – the rose gold packaging looks amazing on my dressing table!
I offer no apologies if I sound a little evangelical about the range – you would too if you’d grown up in a world where make-up ranges just never got it right for your skin. I’m waiting for baited breath for a colour collection from the brand – imagine a blue eyeshadow with gold flecks that really works for brown eyes!
If you try EX1, I’d love to hear what you think and if you agree with me.