Whose Nude?


It’s time the beauty industry and the medical profession woke up to what the word ‘nude’ means to everyone, says Bim Adewunmi.

One rainy evening last week, I had surgery inside my face. The details are not pertinent to this piece, but yes, it did hurt a lot, and though in my day to day life I wear a mask of stoic fortitude (ha!), I cried a lot during the procedure. Afterwards, my surgeon, a Greek man with gentle eyes, asked if I would like to see the work he had just completed. I couldn’t speak yet, so I declined with a shrug and upturned palms. He nodded with understanding, and then began to tell me of the post-op events to expect. Pain was chief among them, and pills would take care of that. Possible infections, so a prescription for antibiotics followed. Last but not least, he said, expect swelling and bruising. “From your eyes to your jaw bone, your face will swell up. It will go purple, then darker, then yellow. Don’t be alarmed, this is natural,” he said.


And that’s when I realised my surgeon, along with a huge swathe of the beauty industry, don’t know jack about dark skin. In the case of the beauty industry, this ignorance is one of choice rather than omission. I – and other people with my complexion – do not ordinarily ‘go yellow’. My skin remains more or less the same deep brown it’s always been, except in summer when I have been known to tan up to three shades darker, or in the winter, when I take on the grey pallor of traditional Britishness. Bruising and rashes etc just hurt and itch – and showcase nothing more colourful on the surface. If I could’ve spoken at the time, I would’ve said something. I might have said, “A ha! This is like when Michelle Obama wore that champagne Naeem Khan dress, and it was described in the press as ‘flesh-coloured’. Or why Rihanna’s perfume is called ‘Nude’ and comes in a pinky-beige bottle. Or why despite L’Oreal’s promise that their True Match foundation matches “97% of UK skintones”, I have not found it in any of the shops I’ve visited in diverse east London. Full disclosure: I don’t even wear foundation, but in 2013, it’s more about the principle of the matter.

Sleek BB cream


In the meantime, I have been icing my super swollen face regularly, and popping pain medication like a G. If you were looking for something for your brand of nude, you could try Sleek Cosmetics – their BB cream in ‘dark’ is spot-on for me, and won’t break the bank.


Bim Adewunmi writes for The Guardian and is a columnist on salihughesbeauty.com


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