But Black Women Can’t: Wear those colors….

Welcome to another But Black Women Can’t post. The purpose of this series to dispel the many myths and stereotypes that have haunted Black women for centuries. Colors we can’t wear, products we shouldn’t touch….it’s getting old. It’s time we start reclaiming our identities and defining our own beauties. Who’s with me?!! Email your suggestions to Brittany@ClumpsOfMascara.com.

Recently I received an email from a reader regarding my post on MAC’s Peppermint Patti nail polish. Who remembers this polish?

I loved it then and I still love this beautiful color. The reader told me that she thought the color was gorgeous but that it would look better on fair skin. Now….I am a reasonable lady and can understand the miscommunication that can happen with words. I emailed her back just to make sure that I understood what she was saying. She confirmed with this,

“There are just some colors that darker skinned people can’t wear.”

Now before some of you get all crazy, consider how many times you or someone who know may have said or thought this. I know that at one point I didn’t think that brown ladies could wear yellow eyeshadow. Three years ago, I would have never worn a color like Peppermint Patti on my nails.

But to all brown ladies out there who think that they can not wear a color, guess what?

You can.

I like to think that all women of all shades can rock ALL colors beautifully. Do certain colors flatter us better? Of course…but does that mean we should only STICK to those colors? Hell no!

So thank you, dear Reader for your message for it prompted this post. I know your words were not meant to hurt. I also know that brown women have not always been the image of beauty (at least in mainstream media) but times are changing.

I would love to hear the thoughts of all women on this topic. Do you think that there are certain colors that certain shades of women can not wear?

Speak on it!

(Thanks @Nicolette517 for this idea!)

ETA: Ironically enough, one of my favorite nail polish blogger shows off Peppermint Patti today on her blog too. She has fair skin I think this color looks amazing on her! Go check out Nail Juice.

  • Noorie

    Well, I do feel some women (fair skinned like me- though I am tan) can’t pull off peach that well or really light pink.

    But that green color is gorgeous and i think everyone can pull it off! Specially women of color. Just like some color bathing suits look way better against darker colored skin.

    Overall I think almost everyone can wear any color they like. I just think bright colors really pop best against darker toned skin, whether it’s peppermint, yellow or orange.

  • The Asian Girl

    A couple years ago, a (white) friend of mine would urge me all the time to rock out brighter colors, which I politely declined. Thanks to her though, I wear more color. A lot of my stuff is black because I always want things to coordinate and match. I don’t think there are certain shades of color other women can’t wear if they have the confidence to pull it off. I, personally, dislike gold and light brown nail polish on myself, but that’s a personal preference. Some other woman with the same skintone might like it on herself and no doubt she’ll look a lot better with it on than I do. It’s all about attitude.

    As for Peppermint Patti…I’ve seen it on women of all shades online and I think it looks great on all of them! I wouldn’t have worn it when I started my nail addiction since my main priority at the time were vampy colors…I’m glad I broadened my horizons.

  • Little Thoughts and Lovely Things

    For things like eyshadow, some colors don’t show up on or flatter certain skin tones.

    As far as nail polish goes, anyone can and should wear all sorts of different colors. Unless it’s an ugly color, in which case it will probably look bad on everyone. Like some nude shades just look weird on, but they do on most people.

    There’s no rules on what dark skinned or any color skinned people should wear. The “shoulds” are all in one’s head or what people spout on TV etc.

  • Askmewhats

    that is a gorgeous color!!!

  • Stargirl

    I don’t think there are any colors that anyone CAN’T wear. That being said, I’m Asian, and I can’t stand wearing yellow. I think it makes me look jaundiced. My twin sister rocks it out all the time, though. And looks good, too!

  • Anonymous

    Eek. Of course some colors of product will look better on some skin tones than others, but skin undertone is independent of light or dark.

  • Bsquared86

    I think you can pull off whatever you want (and by you, I mean everyone and anyone). I love the contrast of pastels and bright colors against brown skin. It’s time for us to stop being afraid to stand out and show out! lol I think that’s what it all amounts to, this “looks best on lighter skin tones” thing. Fear of being too bold.

    And just because a polish or shadow or lipstick may look “best” on a certain skin tone doesn’t mean it won’t look damn good on somebody else of a different tone, lol. That’s the key.

  • Connie De Alwis

    You’re absolutely right! Any skin can rock any colors. Whether it flatters the skin or not, that’s another issue. But there’s no definite restriction. It’s just plain silly. I actually think bright colors that contrast on dark skin’s gorgeous.

    However, dark-skinned ladies should NEVER be able to get away with Ivory-colored foundation. That’s probably the only color crime there is!

  • Danielle

    It’s all about undertones! If you’re cool, you’ll definitely look better with cool colors and warm with warm. Personally I wouldn’t be able to wear that color just because it’s too cool for my warm skin.

  • Miss Yaya

    While I understand and agree that certain colors compliment certain complexions better than others, I think that equally applies to their weight/shape/hair/etc.

    I know a confident woman when I see one and a confident woman does not limit herself, but rather exudes confidence in every which way; from the makeup on her eyes to the nail polish on her feet.

  • Nicole

    I think its all about how you carry yourself that makes the color work for you or not.

    Now that I see that THIS was the color that “didn’t work with your skintone” I think its even more ridiculous. This color is GORGE on you! I’m as pale as they come and I could never pull this off. Well maybe as a toe polish…

  • Anonymous

    I love how you carried yourself so well regarding this issue. About makeup…it’s true that I too used to think I would NEVER pull of bright crazy colors for eyeshadows as I was stuck in a rut of NEUTRAL shades…and thanks to blogging I realized that not only could it be possible but its also HELLA FUN!!!!
    Off topic but sorta related…about a year ago, I went to a conference… Deaf People of Color, and realized that I too can be biased AND NOT EVEN REALIZE IT (and I’m known to be sweet and nice mind you)…I mean this workshop was sooooo good because it made me see how people truly do make careless remarks or comments purely based on opinions that we internalize growing up…even when they are not intentional to bring harm… so yeah it warms my heart to see that you are one mature woman who saw this without getting all
    “pshhh! giiiiirrrrlll ! ” SMILE!!

  • LBbenson

    People get ideas in their heads about the “right” colors and somehow it becomes gospel. The result? A lot of old ladies who insist on orange lipstick, and other beauty tragedies.

    Best to have an open mind when it comes to color, no? Power to the Peppermint Patty!

  • Eva

    I think ALL women should not wear nail colors that are very close to their skin color. Now that’s just freaky. 😉

  • God’s child

    wow! that sounds so closed minded! you can wear ANY colour but certain tones maybe more flattering but the world is ur oyster especially as a sista!! I love the peppermint patti on your brown skin! i know i lovin rockin bright colours too, to be honest since i got into nail polish i am yet to find a colour that does not look good on my chocolate skin..lol…she needs to explore more. oh btw tag ur it! pls see my blog for mo’ details! heart ya!

  • rmcandlelight

    I say anybody can wear any color they like. Wear whats comfortable to you and if you like it wear it regardless what others say. Everyone have there own taste and style 😀

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I do agree that comment was a tad bit close minded. That’s just one of the many misconception that people of color choose to believe about ourselves.

    There is a lady on Youtube I belive her screen name is SongBirdDiva. She’s a dark skinned women who rocks bright colors and she looks GREAT!!!

    Personally, I think women of darker skin tone can wear any color I just think it’s a matter of finding which shade works best on ones skin tone.

  • Rai

    It’s a lovely color and I want it! lol
    And it looks nice on you.

    But it is true. Everybody CAN NOT wear everything. But it also depends on what it is, how much of the color is applied, and so forth.
    But I can’t believe someone had the nerve to tell you such a thing.
    The color looks fine on you.
    Probably was an ignorant black person I bet.

  • MakeupByRenRen

    i love this color on you…honestly, i believe we can all rock any color, it just depends on how you apply it….what base you use, etc…and it also involves going outside of your comfort zone to try something new…i get a lot of emails from women of color saying they can’t wear something…we gotta represent the entire spectrum of color ladies! thanks for this great, empowering post :)

  • Milan Angel

    I think you already know how I feel about this. LOL. I LURVE me some Peppermint Patti! I think it looks beautiful on brown and darker skin as well as fairer skin. Its just a gorgeous universally flattering color!

    I also don’t subscribe to the idea that black women shouldn’t wear…xyz. I think it puts us in a box that’s hard to get out of. I do believe that each individual woman has colors that look BEST on them and they may gravitate towards those but I don’t think they should do it just because someone told them (or they feel themselves) like they can’t wear certain other colors. It takes confidence in oneself though. Once you get to a point in your life where you are loving yourself…really and truly. There’s not too much someone ELSE can say to sway that. Just my thoughts….great post. 😉

  • Miss Yaya

    lmao @ LB preaching on the bright orange lipstick…

  • Brown Girl Gumbo

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!! I don’t feel as though there is any color/shade of makeup that is strictly off-limits to anyone. If you have the confidence to wear it, anyone can pull any product off no matter what the hue might be.

  • Wes

    Great post girl! You handled the situation well (as usual)… The best way to deal with ignorance is through education. Well done 😉

  • Anonymous

    You can wear whatever the hell you want! Tell her to shove it.

  • adriene

    Great post!! I think we should wear whatever colors we want. True enough some colors/shades may flatter our skintones better but, who says we HAVE to stick to just those colors/shades? I agree with Anonymous(#2)it's "HELLA FUN" trying new colors/shades. I was in rut with my nail polishes…. (reds, blues, & purples) then, I decided to try a color that was waaay outside of my nail polish world…. I went with a GREEN!! and it turns out, I LOVE this color. So… yeah, we should all try different colors/shades– you never know what you might find. :)

  • Brooke

    I say where what color makes YOU happy! There are colors I *hate* that might look good on me, but that doesn’t mean I will wear them JUST because they look good on me, the same should go for colors you LIKE!

  • Kahnee

    Thanks to blogs like yours I’m rock’n all kinds of colors. Some may look better than others, but the key is confidence and experimentation. And every morning when i’m getting dressed and looking hawt, I’m thinking about all of those people that say Black women aren’t beautiful and i’m thinking HAW! look at me and tell me that to my face. :)

  • Anonymous

    Great post! I am dark skinned and I am currently rocking Peppermint Patti on the tips and Honeydew from TR for Sally Hansen on the toes and these are GORGEOUS colours!!! I spent a week in the Caribbean and they are bright, tropical colours. Certainly there are colours that may look better on fair skin, or cooler skin, or warmer skin or whatever, but that does not mean that it does not look good on anyone else. I think that for years we have been brainwashed to think that we fit into a certain small colour spectrum by marketers and cosmetics companies of the past, but our eyes and minds have been opened to all the things that we had been missing out on. Rock whatever colour you like and that makes you feel good. Not everyone is going to understand that.

  • Product Junkie Diva

    I agree with those who have already posted a comment- people of all shades should rock any color they like without hesitation. Shoot if you always listen to what others think you should or shouldn’t wear you wouldn’t wear a thing….

  • Anonymous

    I actually think that that green looks more fun and playful on darker skin!
    Frankly, I don’t think anybody should feel limited by their skintone. We just should experiment lots and decide according to out personal style and personality! And change our minds endlessly of course… XD

  • adorepink

    If somebody told me that my nail polish didnt look good on my BEAUTIFUL DARK skin, I would rock it even harder, like theres no tomorrow. Being a nail polish addict has broadend my color spectrum sooo much. It’s all a matter of opinion. At the end of the day, we should wear what makes us feel good and stop being limited by others perceptions of beauty. Love the post!

  • Polish Earthgirl

    I really liked the idea behind this post. I am brown skinned too but that does not stop me from promoting some lighter colors on my blog either!! Others might have different opinions about which colors look best on my skin too but who says that I can’t try whatever I want?! Nail polish is just meant to be fun… it’s for everybody! :)

  • Faith

    See, I think it’s so weird when people say that brown ladies can’t wear some colors … I am about as pale as they come and I am always extremely jealous of dark skin because it CAN rock those brighter colors! I can pull off pretty much all colors of nail polish, but when it comes to eyeshadows …
    In my opinion, dark skin can actually wear a far greater range of colors than pale skin can. And I think it just sounds so close-minded (and rude besides) to tell anyone that they can’t wear a certain color because of their skin color. I could understand if you had, say, cool undertones like me and you wore mustard yellow and it looked funky, but otherwise, I just don’t get it.
    There’s my little rant for the day. :)

  • SoHo Accessories

    Well this post has geared many a reply. I say you can wear any color you want, no matter what your skin tone is…If you like it then wear it….It’s all about your own style anyway.

  • Anonymous

    I think you handled the situation with grace and eloquence I truly think her issue is deeper than nail polish…..you are a beautiful sister

  • sabrina

    I do believe that there are some colors that I can’t wear or that I don’t like, but I don’t think that there are any colors that ALL of a particular type or skin tone can’t wear. It’ all bout what’s right for the individual. I can’t stand pink in general (too much of a box that girls are always put in IMO), so I don’t really wear it although most shades look good on me. It’s all about how you feel in the color.

  • Jazz

    I feel that you can wear whatever color you like – as long as it looks good to you . I love bright eyeshadow ( the brighter the better) and I am currently rocking an orange pedicure . My coworkers love to see what I am gonna do to my makeup or what I am gonna wear – because they know that whatever I put on , I am gonna be flyy and very happy .


    B! ANYONE can rock ANY color. its all about what makes you feel good. not everyone loves red lips but everyone can rock it!

  • Nicole

    I’m with Faith in that I see women of darker skin tone rocking all kinds of colors I would never have thought to try out for myself – that was, until I started doing the YT vids, and then I realized I can wear a lot more colors than I originally thought! I still don’t like myself in certain shades, but that’s okay – and I really, really still feel women of darker color can rock almost ANYTHING and look awesome. I’m wordy, so I’ll quit with one last thing: I say, if you don’t know if it looks good on you – TRY IT!

  • Andrea

    I just love this blog!!! It is so fresh and inspiring!
    Thank you for opening my eyes to products and colors that I would have never imagined wearing. Because of you I have tried false lashes and I now play with bolder eyeshadow colors!
    Women of color doing the dang-on-thang!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I think that this color look especially good on your skintone!! really! that was my first thought after seeing pics, than i read about it. I also think that you rocks all pastels and yellow (which my cool toned pale is not very good combination… with yellow I mean) – so don’t bother with that…

  • Alanood

    there r some colors that just doesn’t look right on some one’s skin tone weather its fair or dark skin
    every person has sum colors that doesn’t look good on them but looks good on other people

    like i cant wear the Peppermint Patti you had on
    but i could wear reds and it looks great on me
    and lighter colors like pink or white and nudes look horrible

    “* But to all brown ladies *(and fair skin)* out there who think that they can not wear a color, guess what?

    You can.*”

    No you cant i really dont think so

    no one should wear a color that doesn’t look good on them but only wears it because she like that color
    that is just wrong

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree with what you said, you can wear any color you want! It may not be the best to flatter your own look. It may look better on some people based on their facial features, skin color, eye color, etc. but by Golly you do wattu want with your makeup! : )

  • wendy

    I think bright colors look best on dark skin tones because the color just pops. I also think fair skin tones can wear all colors of nail polish. I think as black woman we have our heads buried in the sand, when it comes to beauty. We have indulged our thoughts in the media's idea of beauty. The only way your considered beautiful as a dark skin black woman is if you have really long hair (no weave) as if white or light skin black women don't wear weaves. Or if we are tall, skinny, and have european features. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I am tall, skinny with semi-"good hair", I don't have large lips or a large nose, and I have very high cheek bones. I have all the european features that Media says is beautiful and I am dark skin. So just because I am tall, skinny (size 2), with high cheek bones with lots of european facial features, makes me pretty right. Oh but remember I am dark skin but because I have all these extra features is the only reason why I am considered beautiful. So I get a "PASS". Right?Come on people wake up. It's like if your dark skin you have to be all these extra things just to be considered beautiful or compete with another light skin black woman. Can't you see there putting us against ourselves. There no need to sneak a bomb in the tent, when we blow up our own spot.

  • Anonymous

    Regarding this nail polish colour, I've seen it on light skin tones and on darker ones and I actually prefer it on darker tones. On light skin it's a bit bright and garish. That being said, people should wear whatever they're comfortable with and what THEY think looks good. Props to you with this post. Skin color should not dictate your fashion sense.

  • Laila

    Ok, I don’t mean to be rude but it’s simply not good advice to tell me to wear “whatever color they want”. Yes, people can do what they want and wear what they want. But some colors will not be their best look and some colors will look awful on them.

    I think that the 12-season color analysis does a good job of steering you towards your best color palette. It’s takes into account whether you are light/dark (yes, how light/dark you are does play a role in which colors flatter you more), warm/cool (undertones) and clear/muted. Most people are a blend of two or more of the 4 traditional seasons. For example, I am a mixed Indian/White woman and I have olive skin, black har and brown eyes. I am a Deep Winter. I look my best in deep, cool colours like black, royal purple, emerald green and charcoal grey. I would NEVER wear that shade of nail varnish, earth tones or bright/light turquoise. I think it looks garish and doensn’t suit me at all.

    So anyone can wear any color, but nobody can wear every shade of any color. For example, a cool-skinned woman like me and warm-skinned woman can both wear red. But while she looks best in an orange-red, I look my best in true red.

    To sum it up; yeah, wear whatever you want but if your intention is to look your best, you do need to adapt your look to make the most of your personal attributes and this includes skin color. It is not racist for a white beauty consultant to advise me that orange and light brown do not suit me. It’s just the truth.

    After all, which woman does not want to make the most of herself to look her best? All women do, regardless of race, and that is what real style is about.

    • Brittany

      Understandable. But I disagree. While I know “warmer” pinks may complement my skin tone best, that will not stop me from wearing cooler shades of pink on my nails. And I’ll look damn good while wearing it. 8)

  • Vanessa

    I love pretty much every color against brown skin. All the fun colors I’d like to display I love against the dark caramels, ebonies, cafes, etc…. unfortunately, I am the whitest white girl ever to be white. I burn after being in the sun for ten minutes!! I find it difficult to wear fun colors, dramatic colors, or dark colors without feeling overdone. Maybe I just suck at applying makeup (more than likely…) but at the end of the day I find myself reaching for the pale coppery tones that accent blue eyes. And even if it’s pretty, it gets old.
    And I like that green color on your nails! My husband thought it was pretty, too. 😀 I mean, it’s called peppermint patty – I think that means it needs some chocolate. 😀

  • tay

    another asian girl here- i have a lot of yellow tones in my skin, so certain darker shades of yellow and orange (like dark mustard or yellow-y khakis) look horrid on me. also, certain lighter colored greens bring out the green tones in my skin, and makes me look sick.

    it’s really not the color itself people can’t wear, it is the tone of the color. there are yellows that brighten my face, and deep greens that make my skin glow.

    i understand what your reader was saying about turquoise looking good on fairer-skinned people. certain bright colors- especially ones with no gray or brown undertones, look more natural paired with someone with super-pale skin. (this is why no matter how hot pink i make my hair, it will not look as ‘clean’ as it does on gwen stefani- because on me, it reads as two colors- my skintone yellow, and my hair, pink. on her, her skin is so white that it doesnt read as a color- so all u see is pink)

    if you notice when choosing a lipstick, certain brands seem to cater to only fair-skinned girls- their colors have no deeper undertones (aren’t muted at all), and though bright and vibrant, look totally unnatural on anyone who doesnt have super-white skin. i found this to be true with dior lipsticks in particular.

    all that said, everyone can/should wear whatever they want if it makes them happy. that reader is likely a fan of yours (or why would they read your blog?), so i doubt it was meant to offend you- or to be snarky or borderline racist.

  • Maggie

    Haha. I know this post is getting a bit old but I’d just like to say that I think the color would look ghastly on me–I just don’t think it would work for my skin undertone. And I’m pretty fair. I’d of course, wear it anyway bc I like that color–who cares if it highlights my green veins? =)