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If you visit any local pharmacy or most cosmetics brand outlets in Malaysia, you’ll notice one jarring issue—there are not enough makeup shades.

This is especially problematic considering the diverse skin tones in our multicultural country.

Aznita Azman, (AKA the Nita behind homegrown makeup brand NITA Cosmetics), is no stranger to this issue. With inclusivity in mind, Nita sought to change that by producing the largest known shade range by a local brand.

In July 2022, she was able to accomplish just that by launching the Pemadam 2-in-1 Foundation and Concealer in 16 shades.

Bittersweet beginnings

Growing up, Nita was always shy. Being bullied for her looks took a toll on her self-esteem, as it would any child. But then she tried on her mother’s eyeliner for the first time at 18 years old and realised how empowering it was. 

“It gave me an unfamiliar feeling of confidence,” Nita reminisced. 

So when online businesses were just gaining traction, Nita harnessed her passion for makeup and started her company in 2017. 

The brand leveraged its head start in the virtual market and built a name for itself locally. This allowed them to operate fully online, which Nita credits for the brand’s longevity. The brand was also able to gain total control over the profit margins because of this, according to the founder.

Once it had a secure footing, she decided to expand its presence to malls. “[We] started as small as pushcarts and focused on one location at a time to nurture it,” she shared, adding that they eventually expanded into departmental stores. 

During COVID-19 though, they had to shift their business model back to being fully online.

Image Credit: Mikrofon Foundation (left) & Pemadam 2-in-1 Foundation and Concealer (right) / NITA Cosmetics

A newcomer arrives

A few years after opening, NITA Cosmetics introduced a game changer in the Malaysian beauty market. 

The cutely packaged Mikrofon Foundation came in 15 different shades (now 16). It has a lightweight, semi-dewy formula and looks similar to the Maybelline Age Rewind concealer. 

But the brand didn’t stop there. 

Three years later, they created the Pemadam 2-in-1 Foundation and Concealer, which has a higher coverage. Boasting 16 shades in the line, the product caters to light, medium, and dark skin tones. 

The brand also employs models of different ethnicities to present this wide range of shades because they served as the inspiration. 

That said, this effort did not come without a price. The 33-year-old entrepreneur stated that it’s “very expensive” to create these collections, which could be why other brands don’t bother.

Not to mention, there’s the financial risk if it doesn’t succeed, which is why NITA Cosmetics caps its collection at 16 shades for now.

“We are still a small brand compared to the big leagues internationally. Given the opportunity and right timing, we would love to expand to more.”

Image Credit: Pemadam 2-in-1 Foundation and Concealer swatches / NITA Cosmetics

With such a large range, NITA Cosmetics’ foundations are now competing locally with globally established brands, such as Maybelline and Fenty Beauty.

The Mikrofon Foundation (20ml) and Pemadam 2-in-1 Foundation and Concealer (30ml) currently retail at RM59.

This is slightly pricier than Maybelline’s Fit Me Foundation (RM53.90 for 30ml) which has 40 shades, but cheaper than Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation (RM200 for 32ml), which has 50 shades.

NITA Cosmetics’ advantage is that it is a Malaysian brand made locally, marketed through individuals who look like you and me.

Hence, the brand instantly has a stronger footing on relatability with customers.

Makeup can be powerful

NITA Cosmetics also sets itself apart from other local beauty brands through its number of offerings. It carries various products for the lips, eyes, face, accessories, and nails. 

Each of them is given quirky local names, such as Mata Kucing mascara and Kopi Susu matte liquid lipstick. Of course, most of them are also available in multiple shades as well. 

Image Credit: Blusher (left) & Balik Kampung mini bullet matte lipsticks (right) / NITA Cosmetics

This echoes their branding’s mission to provide the best for our multiracial society. While other local brands claim the same, Nita has shown that she’s actually determined to create makeup that’s tailored for our people.

“I know firsthand how it feels to be invisible—and I never want anyone to feel that way,” she confessed.

She believes it is the brand’s responsibility as a beauty industry player to be inclusive and accessible. Nita understands that makeup can be expensive, so she gives back to the community by hosting regular sales to increase the brand’s affordability.

This aligns with their target market of those aged 18 to 34, which might not be the most financially lucrative years for most people. 

When asked if she believes the brand’s diverse collection is helping to break the colourism stigma, Nita was hesitant to agree. 

“I feel that in a small way, if a girl scrolls our social media and sees a model who looks just like her and feels belonged—I think it helps.”

“However, colourism is something that will not go away. Not until it is socially unacceptable to make fun of someone for being darker,” she stated.

Image Credit: Resepi peelable nail polish (left) & Aznita Azman (right) / NITA Cosmetics

The start of something new

Ending on a more positive note, the founder shared that NITA Cosmetics will have a wedding-themed collection coming up this month. The Nikah & Sanding set will comprise mini liquid lipsticks and peelable nail polishes.

Initially curated as a door gift for guests of her own upcoming wedding, Nita is making it available for customers to purchase. 

“It is a personalised one (collection) and very dear to me as I am getting married, insya-Allah. I want them (our beloved customers) to be a part of my big day.”

The brand also looks forward to returning to physical stores this March after being off the shelves for a while. Nita is especially excited for customers to use testers again after two years of lockdown.

These will help the brand increase its visibility and possibly amp up its sales conversion rates as well, allowing NITA Cosmetics to expand its shade range in the future.

  • Learn more about NITA Cosmetics here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: NITA Cosmetics

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)