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May 9, 2016 9:00 AM EDT

I was 23 years old and had just started my first real job at the luxury makeup and skin-care studio Marilyn Miglin in Chicago. Within the first two weeks, my boss’s boss walked up to me and said, “Who is this girl? Get her some concealer.”

I’ve always been aware of the dark circles under my eyes, but I have never in my life been more mortified. It didn’t help that the owner—the woman who’d just told me to put on some concealer—was a former model and an incredible entrepreneur.

My colleagues rushed to my side, desperately trying to make my circles disappear. They tried shade after shade until they realized no concealer in the studio would match my dark skin tone.

My experience that day lit a fire inside me. Why wasn’t there any makeup that looked good on me? I’ve always thought that cosmetics should make women feel beautiful, confident and comfortable—and the limited options available made me feel the opposite.

I spent hours with my sisters and a childhood friend fixated on these questions. Something needed to change for women—all women—to feel great in makeup and not like they’re hiding under it.

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I worked at the studio for nine more months, but I was homesick, so I moved home to Toronto and began working in a cosmetics lab to explore what exactly causes women to feel uncomfortable in makeup. I worked closely with the chemist in the lab and was able to learn about the not-so-sexy side of the cosmetics industry: Every ingredient has a unique function that impacts the overall formula, which in turn alters how it looks and feels on the skin. (For example, titanium dioxide is a commonly used cosmetic ingredient in most powder foundations that is mainly used for colour and for sun protection. In powder form, it’s thick and feels heavy and dry.)

I started playing with colors and textures and realized cosmetics don’t have to feel heavy—and that there are many ways to make different shades that work across all skin tones.

Obsessed with concealers (can you blame me?), I soon developed a shade that, while it looks orange in the bottle, works to counteract my dark shadows. The shade is still a part of my company Vasanti’s offerings (and I still use the exact same formula and shade).

By the way, if you’re struggling to cover under-eye discoloration, the best approach is to color-correct and
then use a concealer in your skin tone. (Yellow tones help correct bluish/purple discoloration, and amber to orange tones correct light brown to darker shadows.)

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Looking back on everything, I’m so thankful for my experience and what I’ve created. With the help of my sisters and all of the women we’ve spoken to through the Vasanti brand, I have learned that you don’t have to settle for something that isn’t working for you and that, if you’re persistent, you can make things happen. Surround yourself with strong positive people who see the very best in you, and it may encourage you to bring great things to others. Because at the end of the day, sisterhood is seeing yourself through the eyes of those that love you, and that is a beautiful thing.

Pinki Gosal is one of the founders of Vasanti Cosmetics.

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