Nikita Richardson
March 03, 2016 9:14 pm

It’s only in the last decade or so that mainstream beauty companies have doubled down on catering to women of color, but many of these women still find it hard to figure out how certain shades of makeup will appear on their skin without having to duck into their local cosmetics store.

Enter @CocoaSwatches, an Instagram committed to showing women of color, and black women in particular, how the latest beauty products go on and whether they’re truly complementary to their skin shade. Founded by one Ofunne Amaka says she’s committed to “promot[ing] and uplift[ing] the images of black women in the media through fashion and beauty.”

The concept for the social media site started out simply enough: Amaka and other beauty bloggers would markup their arms with the latest makeup shades and share the results with Instagram users. Her simple idea has already earned her more than 21,000 dedicated followers and counting.

But as an ambitious graduate of Columbia University with a Masters in Communications, Amaka recently decided to take her popular Instagram project one step further, and is launching a full-fledged business around the concept. The next step in that process is a new (totally free) CocoaSwatches app that allows women of color—and especially black beauty bloggers with a lot of experience—to share their favorite products and showcase how certain products look in real life.

“I knew the problem I was having was a pretty universal one,” Amaka said in an interview with MIC.com. “On other beauty blogs, I would often try to find pictures of a girl that look like me but after a few times it just went horribly wrong. And I thought I really wish I didn’t have to do this guesstimate thing where you buy a shade of lipstick and have no real idea how it’s going to look for you.”

Well, it looks like Amaka is well on her way to solving the issue on her own terms. Here’s hoping cosmetics companies catch up before it’s too late.

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