An African-American woman is getting much-needed support after being “humiliated” by an Ulta Beauty employee who told her her skin was “too dark for most colors in the store.”
In social media posts, Ebony Kankam London recalled her experience at the cosmetics store in Holmdel, New Jersey, on Saturday — an incident she says left her feeling “sad and upset.”
London, a mom-to-be living in Houston, Texas, was in town for her baby shower and wanted her makeup professionally done. So, she went to her nearest Ulta with a reference photo in hand and hopes for flawless face. What she got, however, was far from picture perfect.
“I brought in a picture for reference and was told that my skin tone was too dark for most colors in the store — so this is the best she could do,” London wrote on Facebook, showing a side-by-side comparison of her makeup and the photo she brought for inspiration.
“I felt like I was in 1990 when make up was made for one type of skin,” she added. “In a store full of people who didn’t look like me I felt sad and upset. Like my skin tone was a problem.”
The employee, who asked London if she’d ever had her makeup done professionally, reportedly grew “very upset” when London voiced her dissatisfaction with how the look turned out.
She said “she had done makeup for 20 years and never had anyone be unhappy,” London told NBC News in a recent interview.
Social media users have since rallied around the Houston woman, giving support while also offering advice to help her avoid another cringe-worthy situation. For one, critics suggested she go to a makeup artist who looks like her and/or is trained in doing makeup on Black women.
“Girl dnt let them other ppl do ur makeup those ppl know nothing abt our skin unless they are black themselves,” one user commented, adding,” Ur complexion is beautiful and any great mua would have enhanced it.”
Others encouraged her to go elsewhere for her makeup needs, like MAC and Sephora, because they tend to have a more diverse staff and products for a wide range of skin tones and shades.
“ULTA ‘make up artists’ are self taught via youtube,” one user opined. “If you want a cute beat, either go to sephora or lookup someone on instagram. I’m sorry this happened to you. You are too cute for this BS. They missed out on an opportunity to make eye shadow pop on a beautiful brown queen!”
In her own post, London lauded brands like Lancome and pop star Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line for “being so progressive.”
While many offered words of support, there were who those noted London willingly bit the bullet and risked her makeup turning out poorly after the Ulta employee informed her the store didn’t have her shade.
According to state data, Holmdel, which is located near the Jersey Shore, is overwhelmingly white, with a population that’s less than 1 percent black.
In a statement, Ulta said it has contacted London and recognizes there have been times when customers “haven’t experienced the inclusive environment we strive for.”
“We stand for equality, inclusivity and diversity and when we hear that we are not meeting that expectation, we want to understand what our guest is feeling, and hold ourselves accountable to do better,” the company wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
Moving forward, Ulta said it will take additional steps in providing its staff with better training and education.
In a follow-up post, London said the manager of the store, who identifies as biracial, compensated her with lotion samples and, saying “she’s comfortable doing Black makeup,” offered to redo the makeup, which London declined.