Brown Girls, Rejoice: Meet the Makeup Brand That's Redefining What It Means to Be "Medium"

Because "beige" does not mean dark.

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Brand)

Fun fact: There are 7.4 billion people in the world, with equally as many skin tones and colors. But you wouldn't know it, based on the completely non-diverse selection of foundations and concealers in the makeup aisle, which serves up a whole bunch of beige and cream formulas, with a few tan-ish outliers. Because okay. Sure.


Which is why our little hearts sang when we heard of a new player on the scene called Sahi, a ridiculously inclusive beauty brand that's fully devoted to "medium" skin tones—namely, those found in Latina, Arabic, Mediterranean, and Indian men and women, with the sole purpose of making people feel confident in their own skin.

"If you have darker skin, you know that ethnic skin tones are very under-served in our industry, especially those with yellow and olive under tones," says founder Shelly Sahi, who created the brand just two years ago, beginning with a Kickstarter campaign in 2015, before winning multiple grants and competitions that allowed her to bring her passion project to mass markets and consumers.

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Brand)

"When you don't see yourself represented in makeup, there's the feeling that your skin color is somehow bad," says Sahi, "and I don't want people to think that brown is bad." So although the brand over-performs for medium skin tones, offering medium-hued foundation shades in neutral, yellow, and green undertones, it also carries "very light" shades in pink and yellow undertones, plus "extremely dark" shades in yellow and neutral.

(Not sure of your undertone? Try this old-school trick: Look at the veins under your wrists. If they look blue, you likely have pink undertones; if they're green, you have yellow undertones; if they're an equal mix of both, then you're probably neutral. It's not an exact science, but it's a good starting point).

"The cool thing is that we know that every single shade and formula actually works on real skin tones, because we tested them all on real people," says Sahi, who created a proprietary face chart to base the brand's shades off of the skin tones of hundreds of women. "I come from a hard sciences background, so I put a lot of data toward making the perfect undertones and foundations."

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Velvet Finish Diamond Foundation, $45


The same data was put toward the rest of the brand's products, too, like its iridescent baked blushes, its velvety contour palette, and all of its metallic foil eyeshadow singles: "Our products work for all humans of all colors, period," says Sahi. Which, she adds, is also why you'll never see cutesy shade names like chocolate, mocha, or French vanilla on any of her products: "We're not food, and we should be proud to say that we're brown, or white, or peach, or black," she says. "I want our customers to embrace their natural skin tones and be confident in how they look."

And seeing as we're probably still a few (dozen) years away from the beauty industry becoming fully inclusive of all shades and undertones for the typical human being, we'll be keeping our fingers crossed for Sahi to eventually take over the world.

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XL Contour and Baking Palette, $39.50


Or, at the very least, dominate the shelves of our local drugstores. But until then, we'll settle for mass-ordering every product online, which, thankfully, is stocked with options.

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Brand)

Private Blend Liquid Lipstick, $24.50


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Chloe Metzger
Beauty Editor

Chloe Metzger is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan, overseeing the editorial content and growth strategy of the hair, makeup, and skin space on digital, while also obsessively writing about the best hair products for every hair type (curly girl here; whattup), and the skincare routines that really, truly work (follow her on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes pics of that magazine life). She brings nearly a decade of writing and editing expertise, and her work has appeared in AllureHealthFitnessMarie ClaireStyleCaster, and Parents. She also has an unhealthy adoration for Tom Hanks and would like to please meet him one day, if you could arrange that. Thanks.