May 11, 2020

Musings: The Shade Around Airport Beauty

I have had this post in the back of my mind and sitting in my drafts for some time now and in the spirit of trying to be consistent here goes. 

I have an affliction when it comes to all things beauty and skincare and whilst at the airport (my favourite place) it’s no different. Do I need another dusty mauve-toned lipstick? Yes. Or perhaps a re-up on my favourite cleanser. Yes. Another setting spray? Yes. I’ll take two. 

Yes is always the answer. 

However, when it comes to complexion products, the availability of shades can be a battlefield. There always seem to be fifty shades of beige on offer but what about us who are blessed with melanin? It can only be described as this emoji – 😕.

Let’s give this some context. Back in May 2019, I was heading back to London from my annual trip to Dubai and I had some time to kill in the airport, and in the spirit of wasting money, I checked out what was in duty-free. Pictures speak louder than words:

My tan…
The shades available.


Retail space in airports is limited. If it wasn’t, everything would be available. Right? 

How do we get around this? Smaller product sizes = more space? Or are smaller sized products too costly to make? I would personally welcome smaller bottle sizes as I don’t need to bring full-sized products on a 3-4 day city break. Another alternative would be getting products refilled which in this age of trying to save the planet would help produce less waste and thus reduce our carbon footprint. 

Korianne of Koko Kreates says: 

“I think the lack of diversity available within airports or whilst travelling in items like make up is not great. Although there are more conversations being had, not enough movement is being made. I think we can be more creative with our approach and perhaps hold pop-up shops/events with travel-sized products that can cater to Afro hair or make up for darker skin.”

For more travel, lifestyle, and food content, check out Korianne’s blog and Instagram.  

Korianne has made a great point about holding pop-up shops/events with travel-sized products that cater to Afro hair or make up for darker skin tones. Not only would it create a “buzz”, but it would bring awareness to those who might not be aware of this issue. It has been proven time and time again that black women have the biggest spending power when it comes to beauty products, but why is their ignorance when it comes to purchase options at the airport? Surely it makes sense from a business point of view to make a change and make some change in the process. 

Read more: Why you don’t need that latest beauty purchase 


Caroline of Travel Eat Slay says:

“Airport shopping can be fun and difficult to resist at the same time.

Maybe she is born with it.. maybe it’s MELANIN” but why is it that the foundation department is lacking a little seasoning. Have they forgotten that women past the shade “Cappuccino” exist, they travel and sure as heck want to bag some of those duty-free beauty bargains too? Travelling light with no checked luggage the frustration of pumping out some of my Fenty Beauty Pro Filter Soft Matte foundation into those small 50ml containers is extremely annoying. The struggle is real.

This lack of diversity for shades of foundation at duty-free in 2019 is blasphemy – NW45 from MAC Cosmetics is not a one shade fits all so why are we still subjected to such discrimination? For crying out loud Miss World is a dark skin woman from South Africa. We need a seat and voice at every beauty cafeteria.

With black travel movement gaining momentum it is high time the airport retailers start catering to this demographic. Travelling while black is already challenging and we don’t need the lack of inclusivity when it comes to women of colour finding their true match to add to it.”

I completely agree with Caroline. The black travel moment is beautiful but it also comes it’s complexities. We all deserve to feel beautiful and denying we don’t exist by limiting shade ranges is another battle we have to face. 

An absolute must-watch - 'Can You Buy Makeup At The Airport If You're Black?


Here are some reasons why: 

Sometimes we forget. 

Sometimes we want something new. 

Sometimes we don’t have space in the tiny liquids bag. 

Sometimes we want try before we buy. 

Sometimes we want to take advantage of the duty free pricing. 

Sometimes we don’t have the coins to do so beforehand.

Because we don’t want to. 

Boots, Heathrow Terminal 4, November 2019.




In an ideal world, we’d want to be able to take all the liquids in our luggage but that isn’t the case (pun intended). It’d also be interesting for duty-free retailers to trial putting out all shades available and seeing how they sell over a particular timeframe. Of course, this would have to be done post-pandemic when airports would have the footfall. 

And “yes” it might just be make up but we deserve to look and feel beautiful. 

What do you think can be done to resolve this issue? 

Char xo  

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About Me

Welcome to my little space on the internet, known as Memoirs and Musings. I’m Char, short for Charlotte and my blog/website/diary is dedicated to documenting my Memoirs and Musings, hence the name. I wouldn’t say I was your ‘typical’ blogger either. I don’t care about getting the perfect flatlay or feeling bad for not posting, I just enjoy writing. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. Anyway, I love to travel, indulge in a glass of white wine, when plans are cancelled and purchase overpriced make up.  I guess that’s me in a nutshell, trying to figure out this thing called life, have fun and never lose sight.