YOU might not expect it from a former actress but Isma Husein is on a mission to end the one-colour suits all culture in the cosmetics industry.
The 32-year-old has launched her own makeup brand for women with darker skin tones in Malaysia.
The entrepreneur, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, says “it’s appalling” that throughout Southeast Asia where most women are darker skinned, they have only a few options when it comes to buying foundation and that’s mostly for pale skin tones.
She says that top brands market their products for white women, which Isma says sends out the message that being dark skinned is unattractive.
There is this obsession with fair skin and I’m disappointed to see this trend in Malaysia
She adds that it’s even scarier that darker women buy into the idea that it’s more beautiful to be fair.
Isma said: “Society and companies are putting pressure on us to look a certain way.
“There is this obsession with fair skin and I’m disappointed to see this trend in Malaysia and there are even products out there that want you to change your skin colour to be fairer.
“What’s scary is that people are obsessed. That’s why I started Morena because I don’t agree with that whole idea. It’s appalling.”
Isma’s reaction was to launch her own foundation from scratch. Morena was born to not only send a message to top makeup brands to create a more diverse range of shades but also to darker skinned women that they need to stop being obsessed with being fair.
She said: “I do see some positive developments in the industry but in the advertisements, I can see how women are being perceived. It’s going to be a work in progress to change people’s mindset.”
While Morena is a new start-up, it’s driving an awareness of women wanting to control their own lives and feel comfortable in their own skin.
Isma designed a powerful advertising campaign that went viral showing a group of dark skinned women talking about the pressures to lighten their skin.
She said: “There are three girls talking about their experiences about fair skin. It’s questioning why are we obsessed with fair skin.
“To me, that’s more important than anything else because it means the message resonates with people and women can relate to it.
“If you see an injustice and you feel you are not being represented, say something. It’s not always about making money. It’s about asking questions.”
“I just want people to say: “You know what, I don’t have to follow the masses. I can be different and I can be me.”