An African American woman said an Ulta Beauty employee in New Jersey told her that her “skin was too dark for most colors in the store.”
Ebony Kankam London of Houston detailed the recent encounter social media posts that have gone viral, saying the experience left her “sad and upset.”
London, who is pregnant, was in New Jersey to attend her baby shower late last month and decided to get her makeup professionally done at the Ulta store in Holmdel.
“I brought in a picture for reference and was told that my skin tone was too dark for most colors in the store,” she said in the posts.
The employee then reportedly asked London if she had ever gotten her makeup done professionally.
“I felt like I was in 1990 when make up was made for one type of skin. In a store full of people who didn’t look like me I felt sad and upset. Like my skin tone was a problem,” she wrote.
“So this was the best she could do,” London added. She then posted a photo of how her makeup turned out with a side-by-side comparison of the photo she brought in for inspiration.
London then gave a nod to companies such as Lancôme and Fenty, the latter owned by pop star Rihanna, for “being so progressive.”
The posts went viral this week, with more than 3,700 reactions and nearly 300 comments on Facebook.
In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, London said she immediately informed the makeup artist that she was not satisfied with her look and the employee “got really upset, and said she had done makeup for 20 years and never had anyone be unhappy.”
London later wrote in a follow-up this week that she was contacted by the location’s manager, “who is apparently biracial and witnessed the entire situation.” She and a corporate manager were in the store at the time of her appointment, London said.
The managers didn’t step in because they “didn’t want to make a big scene,” according to London, who added that the store manager told her that she felt “comfortable doing black makeup” and offered to do her makeup over.
“If she felt comfortable doing my skin tone, I’d much rather she have come over,” London said.
At that point, London told NBC News that she declined the offer because she no longer needed her makeup done for her baby shower.
London told the outlet that she was offered a bag of sample lotions as compensation. However, she wrote that she wants the massive beauty retailer to give their makeup artists diversity training and “teach them how to glamorize all skin types.”
Ulta acknowledged the incident in a public statement on Thursday, saying it recognizes there have been customers who “have not experienced the inclusive environment we strive for.”
“We stand for equality, inclusivity and diversity and when we hear that we are not meeting that expectation, we want to understand what our guest is feeling, and hold ourselves accountable to do better,” Ulta wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
The company said it will be taking additional training and education steps in stores.
— Ulta Beauty (@ultabeauty) January 3, 2020