Welcome to the Black Market


Hola Beautistas! I am introducing a new segment entitled “The Black Market” which is where every month I will highlight an indie beauty brand created by women of color for women of color. As a beauty lover who has scoured department stores, boutiques, beauty supply stores and even flea markets for the latest in beauty, I find it disconcerting how little attention is given to indie beauty brands for women of color. We are a huge consumer base with billions of dollars to spend yet major beauty manufacturers, advertising agencies and retailers do little to court us or accomodate our needs.

This is where indie beauty brands step in and cover the gap. Whether its finding the perfect foundation or looking for the ideal red lipstick for your unqiue complexion, many of your beauty prayers can be answered if you just patronized indie beauty brands.


To start off this segment, I had the pleasure of interviewing the creators of Illusion Cosmetics, Denise and Janice Tunnell. Illusions Cosmetics is a fully comprehensive cosmetic and skin care line for today’s sophisticated woman of color. Unlike the old school black beauty brands such as; Fashion Fair and Flori Roberts, this indie brand brings excellent formulations and superior products to the market that rival many of the mass market and prestige brands available.

Created by two sisters who share a passion for beauty, Illusions Cosmetics was a labor of love that was at one time was just a dream. “We both started in accounting, crunching numbers. We were working as accountants by day but had aspirations to get into the beauty business,” said Janice Tunnell.

Janice began her foray into the world of beauty and glamour with a makeup artistry course where she earned her beauty license and soon thereafter began doing makeup on the weekends and for special events. Denise was equally smitten by the beauty bug and had decided to take classes to become an aesthetician. After completing the course, she began doing facials and other treatments out of her home. It was very apparent how deep the Tunnell sisters’ love of beauty went as they feverishly pursued the education, training and experience needed to understand and appreciate the complexities of the beauty business.


Soon the sisters’ passion for beauty took over and they both went into the beauty world full time as freelance makeup artists for film and television. They worked with countless celebrities such as; Vivica Fox, Kim Whitley, Drew Sidora and Elise Neal to name a few. With so many of the world’s most beautiful African-American celebrities as their clients, the sisters’ realized the importance of creating a product line that would cater to black women and bring out their true beauty.

The natural next step was to launch their own line. Illusions Cosmetics did a soft launch with a line of lip glosses in the early 2000’s but as Janice realized, there needed to be a comprehensive line with shadows, powders, foundations and lipsticks if they wanted to make a real mark on the beauty scene. “We officially launched the entire collection in 2006,” Denise explained during our phone interview.

Initially, the line was aimed at African-American women only but after receiving tons of feedback from women of other ethnicities, they soon realized that they needed to expand their target market and make the line for all women of color. “We had Asian, Latina and Indian women complaining about the lack of options they had when searching for foundations and other cosmetics that would complement their skin tones. We quickly realized that the market was larger than just that of black women,” Janice stated.

Known for their gorgeous foundations sticks which come in 17 beautiful and easily blendable shades, Illusions Cosmetics is forging the way in the world of indie beauty brands. From sleek packaging to state of the art formulas that truly enhance skin of color, Illusion Cosmetics is a must have for all women of color seeking the latest colors, trends and products made especially for their shades.

Currently, the line is available online as well as in select boutiques and salons in Nova Scotia, Arizona, Los Angeles and on the East Coast. The Tunnell sisters also produce a weekly talk show entitled Beauty Talk where they discuss the latest in beauty with some of the industry’s top makeup artists, beauty entrepreneurs and other beauty trend-setters.

With an up and coming cosmetic brand and a beauty talk show, it comes as no surprise that the Tunnell sisters’ are looking to conquer the beauty business and give women of color around the globe a reason to shine! “We would love to see our products at Sephora, QVC, Ulta and HSN. We want to be household names and have our products sold worldwide,” Denise said enthusiastically. At the rate their going, there is no reason why that won’t be a reality sooner rather than later!

Stay tuned next week for my product review of Illusion Cosmetics Lustre Lipgloss and Eye Lights.

2 Responses to Welcome to the Black Market

  1. Thank You for an amazing interview experience!! I love your blog!!

  2. counterculture says:

    Thank you Denise! It was such a pleasure interviewing you and Janice about Illusions Cosmetics! I hope to work with you two again in the near future as I truly want to create a new movement towards patronizing indie black beauty brands.

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