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Black Opal Cosmetics celebrates 20 years as makeup leader for women of color

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Black Opal Cosmetics, a makeup leader for women of color, is celebrating its 20th anniversary with new products and a broader outreach. Maya Brown, the Senior Marketing Director for Black Opal discussed the future plans of the makeup brand with the Long Island Beauty Lookbook Examiner on Friday in an exclusive interview, and provided a makeup preview for the upcoming year.

Black Opal Cosmetics stemmed from a skincare discussion in 1993 between two friends, Carol Mouyiaris, of Jamaican heritage, and Dr. Cheryl Burgess, a board-certified Dermatologist. According to Maya, “the women wanted to find over-the-counter solutions that were able to address those issues women of color were suffering from.” With the help of Nikos Mouyiaris, Carol’s chemist husband, the trio created the beauty brand’s first over the counter hydroquinone product, and thus Black Opal was born in 1994.

For the past 20 years Black Opal has been a leader in skincare and cosmetics for both men and women of all color. The company began with affordable skincare and later introduced a high-pigment line of makeup and true-to-tone foundations. Decades later Black Opal is a global brand in over 30 countries and is a staple in the kits of high profile makeup artists, including Merrell Hollis, Makeup Art Director for "The Wendy Williams Show" who is also the new Black Opal Artistic Director. The cosmetics company for women of color has a strong presence in South Africa and Nigeria, launched in Dubai last year and hopes to expand into South America soon.

Since starting with Black Opal, Maya Brown has been an integral part of the beauty and skincare brand and seen a 40-50 percent growth in three years. The current marketing strategy includes an increased visibility with expanded distribution. Consumers of Black Opal Cosmetics and Skincare could expect a wider selection of beauty products in CVS and is soon to be available with national retailers such as Kmart, Winn Dixie and Walgreens and, hopefully Walmart. However, don’t expect to see the brand in every local store. According to Maya Black Opal is “more of a geographically distributed plan, because we are in those areas that have a higher population of women of color, centralized in the Southeast, New York and New Jersey as being one of our top markets.” Black Opal is also available in specific areas of the Midwest, Southwest and portions of California.

The anniversary celebration started in April and will continue through to 2014 with innovative products featuring the latest beauty trends. For 2014 Black Opal recently launched Gray Retouch Root Concealer Spray, an instant gray touchup spray, Color Splurge Luxe Matte Lipstick, a conditioning matte lipstick, and Color Splurge Eye Satin Matte eye shadow duo, which is available online exclusively, with the hope to hit retail outlets in 2015. Maya also teased about upcoming Black Opal foundations, which is what the beauty brand is renowned for, “We are bringing in something different with our foundations for 2015.”

When asked what makes Black Opal special, Maya touted the richness of the pigment and the wide range of makeup shades available for women of color. She explained the cosmetics and skincare company strives to bring the best to products to its consumers at an affordable price point.

Black Opal believes women of all ages are beautiful. We stay on the pulse of beauty trends. When you look at products directed at women of color, they have a richer and deeper pigment load, and therefore the color pops more because our skin is deeper in color and therefore a bit denser. General market products include talc for better blend-ability on lighter skin, and women of color don’t need that, as it will make them look ashy. Black Opal has a full shade range for the lightest of light Hispanic or multi-cultural woman to the deepest skin tone of someone from African descent.

Black Opal has given back since the brand launched in 1994 with the Black Opal Achiever’s Scholarship, and reintroduced in 2011 under the True Beauty Model Search that kicks off in August and provides advancement in education to the winners. Additionally, Shop for a Cause promotes literacy with 25 percent of the proceeds from the sale of Even True skincare products until August 2014 going to the Democratic Republic of Congo through the Georges Malaika Foundation.

Maya Brown wants consumers to continually provide feedback as Black Opal will definitely try to meet their needs. Black Opal Cosmetics and Skincare are available online and can be found at CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid, Duane Reade, Kmart, and OTC Stores nationwide.

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