As a young girl, I wasn't in a rush to dabble in lip colors and blush. Besides celebrities with assistance from expert teams, I had seen so many black women use makeup in unflattering ways.
When I finally found the confidence to step foot in a MAC store during college, I was instantly disappointed by how many options weren't at my fingertips. Mainstream makeup brands made me look like an ashy clown or some color-muted zombie.
The limited amount of options for women of color is a reality in the mainstream market. Karrueche Tran, model-turned-entrepreneur, agreed. So, she did something about it.
Tran, 27, designed KaePop, a makeup collaboration with ColourPop that isn't specifically tailored for women of color, but offers shades that flatter both black and brown women.
"I would always find colors that were a little too gray," she tells me over the phone. "It took me awhile to find the right brands and the right products that worked well with my color of my skin. That's why, with my colors, I wanted to make sure everybody can relate to it."
Her first collection, released online on February 4, offers four Super Shock matte shadows, three ultra-matte lipsticks with lip pencils, one blush, one highlighter and a bronzer that doubles as a contour powder.
She's featured all the products via Periscope and Snapchat, but it seems like the three lipstick shades --“Kae” (brown), "Rooch" (deep burgundy) and “Chi” (nude) -- are the stars of her debut line.
"I wanted to do something that wasn't too bold," she says of her collection, that sports LA names like "Wilshire" and "Sunset Blvd." "Everything's very LA. I'm a true LA girl so I wanted it to be genuine."
Tran admits to being a rookie in the beauty game, too, but she's taken the steps to understanding the ins and outs of makeup.
"I knew nothing about makeup. I didn't know how to do my eyebrows, I didn't know about concealer or anything," she says. "So for me, it's still a learning process. I've learned about beauty from getting my makeup done all the time."
She credits YouTube as her saving grace, but stresses the importance of learning to care for the skin underneath the blush and eyeliner.
"It's very important as a woman to drink plenty of water, wash your face at night, use face wipes and learn about your skin. Invest in yourself," she advises. "Before, I used to just go to sleep with my makeup on and forget about it. My skin wasn't that bad but it makes a very big difference when you wash your makeup off before you hit the sack."
Finally free of being labelled "Chris Brown's girlfriend," Tran is the epitome of a blossoming GirlBoss. During her first foray into the beauty world, she learned that patience is the key to making your creative vision come to life.
"Take your time to perfect whatever you're doing. I wanted this out in December but thankfully we took our time," she says. "I'm so glad that I waited and created what I really wanted."
The collection ranges in price from $5 for an eyeshadow to $8 for blushes and highlighter. You can buy all the products separately or splurge on the set for $72.
"I've already been thinking about what the next collection will look like," she says, mentioning her hopes for creating lashes and eyebrow pencils in the future. "I've grown a love for beauty and looking forward to more."