Whether you were aware or not, I’m a South Asian woman. My parents were born and raised in Bangladesh, making me Bangladeshi-American. This makes me a certified brown girl which unfortunately also means that in the beauty world, finding shades that work for me is not easy. Don’t get me wrong — beauty brands have come a long way, but there’s still so much more to be done. It’s more than just an extensive range of foundation shades. It’s about getting undertones right and formulating the rest of the line’s products (like blush, highlighter, eyeshadow) to complement the diverse skin tones of hopeful customers.
Cue, Sahi Cosmetics — the first cosmetics brand solely dedicated to ethnic skin tones. FINALLY.
They realized the beauty industry was majorly lacking when it came to producing well thought out color cosmetics for men and women of medium, olive, dark, and even just tanned skin. So what did they do? Went ahead and fixed the problem themselves. Sahi believes everyone should have the perfect shade and never settle for less. I was lucky enough to try their best-sellers and even interview the brains behind the brand, Shelly Sahi. Read on below for the Q+A, my favorites, and a discount code!
- Shelly, tell me a little about your background and what motivated you to start SAHI Cosmetics.
I grew up reading fashion magazines, but I never understood why the magazine models never looked like me. I knew I wanted to do something about it but I didn’t have the idea right away. Following the advice from my Indian family, I studied at the University of Michigan, double majoring in Biology and Philosophy. It burned me out. I worked at the hospital volunteering and researching as a lab assistant while studying biochemistry and physics in school. I quickly came to an impasse- I didn’t want to be a doctor, I wasn’t passionate about biochemistry, I was passionate about following up on the latest makeup trends and spending countless hours researching the ingredients in cosmetics. I knew I wanted to be in the industry but had no idea how to get there. I used my science background to land a materials science position at Ford Motor Company. I was a research engineer, bottom of the totem pole, but I had my foot in the door. I learned about materials science, product development, the ins and outs of manufacturing from one of the greatest American manufacturers. I was promoted to the business office and I learned corporate strategy and negotiations. Eventually, I started an evening MBA program at one of the best business schools in the country — Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. It was there that I created SAHI Cosmetics in December 2015.
- Why do you think so many beauty brands miss the mark when creating the right foundation colors in regards to shades and undertones?
Traditional marketers use a Latina spokeswoman, play some music in the background, and consider it a success in targeting their “market priorities”. We demand more than that. We demand a brand that will consider us at the start of the Research and Development phase of creating products. It takes time and money to focus on undertones and skin complexions the way we have. I think that’s been a hurdle for bigger brands that already make the sales — they don’t consider it important to spend the time and resources on serving ethnic skin tones. Women have been paying big brands to neglect their shades for the past two decades and it’s time someone changes that.
- How is SAHI filling the beauty need for those with medium-to-tan skin tones?
We think of undertones first and create gradients in complexion from there. We have tested our shades on hundreds of women to understand if our foundation line matches all men and women who wish to wear it. That has put us at a big advantage over other brands. Not only have our customers been happy with our high performing formulas, but they are ecstatic that they found the right shade!
- What does it mean to “Own Your Color”?
We love our hashtag #OwnYourColor because it’s a mechanism for empowerment. It doesn’t matter if your skin is extremely light or extremely dark — you are drop dead beautiful and you should never mask it. Be Confident. Be You. Own Your Color.
- Can we have some sneak peek info on what new products we can expect from SAHI? Also, what’s next from the brand?
We are releasing two brand new products this spring and we cannot contain our excitement! The first is our MYSTIC Primer + Serum, which has a gel consistency and potent skin care ingredient that improves the look and feel of your skin with continued use. The second is The Diamond Treatment Lip Balm with jojoba seed oil from Argentina and shea butter from Switzerland. We’ve spent months developing the luxurious formulas and just finalized the most unique packaging. Launching May 2018.
For all things Sahi, click HERE and use code SAVENOW for 15% off your purchase.