Finding the perfect lip color should be simple. With countless shades and brands to choose from, the biggest hurdle should be stopping yourself from buying them all. Still, many people of color leave their favorite beauty retailer deflated and empty-handed. This is partly due to a lack of representation of skin tones in campaigns, swatches, and makeup influencers, which causes many buyers to hesitate when trying new lip products. Even though more brands are showcasing women of color in their ads, they rarely offer the consumer a wide array of undertones within their swatches. For people of color, knowing what a shade looks like on a cool tone versus a warm tone model is the difference between looking bomb or looking ashy.

Though there’s a lot of work to be done within the beauty space, there are those trying to create an inclusive environment for a more diverse audience. Since 2019, Anisha Matharu, 24, and Sabrina Moin, 26, have met that challenge head-on with the creation of swatchcandy. Giving brands an opportunity to advertise their lip products on a richer group of models, the digital, photo-based platform is single-handedly helping to streamline the consumer experience for minority shoppers, while providing brands with a much-needed service. After meeting at Georgia Tech, Matharu and Moin admit they never intended to create this business, yet what started out as a class project, eventually became something much bigger.

“swatchcandy started out as a class project in a mobile app development course at Georgia Tech, where Sabrina and I met,” Matharu says. “The original idea for the project was to create an app that helps makeup shoppers find dupes of high-end products. After further research, we discovered that people had more trouble finding products that suit their skin tone more than they had finding dupes, which is why we decided to develop an app that shows makeup users which color products would look good on their skin tones.”

So after committing to taking this idea further, both women, during an impromptu brainstorming session, ideated on the company name. “I remember this conversation really clearly. In Summer 2019, we wanted to pivot from ‘myshadow’ because of its reference to eyeshadow,” Moin recalls. “We were working out of the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Georgia Tech’s campus and throwing out words we could pair with ‘swatch.’ swatchcandy was the one that stuck.”

Dabbling in makeup can be exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking. To bring attention to the myriad of lipstick firsts, several of Complex’s women of color spoke candidly about their history with lipsticks. They offered insight into their in-store experiences, spoke about their favorite brands, and gave advice on what some retailers can do to make the lipstick shopping experience more fun for everyone.