@Collegiatebeauty: IG's Fav New Beauty Guru
Denise Cohen does not go a day without the perfect beat face.
The way her golden highlight beams off her milk chocolate skin, is nothing short of a dream. It’s almost like the melanin in her skin serves as the perfect canvas to radiate all the pigments in any product.
Her intricate cut crease consist of a galore of different colors and textures. And her jet-black, chiseled winged eyeliner precisely frames her brown almond eyes and serves as the ultimate #MakeupGoals.
Judging by her craftsmanship, Denise’s makeup artistry is light years ahead of its time. You would think she’s an old pro with decades of experience, but this 20-year-old “Collegiate Beauty,” is nothing short of “Rookie of the Year.”
In the oversaturated Beauty Blogging world, it is so hard to stand out. Yet alone as a Brown woman. The odds are even more stacked. It’s hard not to notice that some of the “top” Bloggers aren’t of darker complexions of their race. So for many on Instagram, seeing Denise slay every makeup trend on her perfect brown skin is like seeing an actual magical makeup unicorn.
On her @Collegiatebeauty Instagram account, which has garnered over 20,100 active followers, her post rack up daily comments, such as: “@smoothjazzbeauty: You’re beautiful and inspiring! 🙌🏽." And “@raggedyroyal: FEELING YOURSELF AS YOU SHOULD BE GIRL THIS LOOK IS MAGICAL.” And "@infinity_xolv: Giiiirrrlll you’re self-taught??? This is amazing you’re an actual artist!"
This is some of the thousands of comments she will receive any given day on a post.
With a little experience, “I initially started my Instagram account late last year, because I loved doing makeup,” says Denise.
Growing up, like many others, she has a similar makeup initiation story. She was always curious about different products, but it wasn’t until she moved in with her Grandmother that she really began to immerse herself into makeup, but her journey to self-love wasn’t an easy battle.
For many years, Cohen struggled with depression and often times hide it from those closest to her and did not speak to them about what she was going through.
After hitting the lowest point of her life with her depression, she knew that she wanted more for herself and her community. Hence, she built an inspiring community for women who are sometimes not considered human, yet alone beautiful--brown women.
“I never felt beautiful growing up, people told me that I was, but I never believed it….I never felt comfortable fully loving myself," says Cohen.
But through the power of makeup, Cohen was able to foster a deeper form of self-love, and inspire a community of women who often go underlooked--and create content for makeup lovers who shared her same passions and struggles as women of color.
When beauty influencers on Instagram began to gain popularity, many women with fair skin were considered beautiful and #goals. “Initially, I felt bad about it, and it takes a toll on a black woman,” says Denise. "I realized that society constructs what beauty means and that society shines a light on Eurocentric women. I realized that nothing is wrong with me.”
And she may be onto something, most recently, one of the most notable makeup advocate and beauty guru, Jackie Aina questioned the “diversity” motives behind Huda Beauty’s new Faux Filter Foundation.
Cohen’s dedication to countering Eurocentric beauty standards extends beyond the virtual realm of Instagram. Early this year, she founded Interbeauty, an on-campus organization dedicated to mental health awareness and suicide prevention at Florida State University (the she schools she currently goes to).
“Interbeauty was created to celebrate the beauty of dark skin and what makes everyone feel beautiful,” says Denise. “There are millions of types of beauty, and the second we marginalize one type of beauty, it leads to so many consequences.”
Denise’s persistence to bringing a larger representation of women of color to the beauty industry has definitely been noticed.
In less than a year, she has built a coalition of almost 20,100 followers on Instagram. Moreover, her influence as a woman of color is getting major recognition by cult beauty brands, such as BH Cosmetics and Sigma Beauty.
Denise plans to change the beauty industry by working with not only black-owned companies but white-owned companies as well.
“Rather than shooting down brands who do not traditionally include women of color, I want to show them why they should include us,” says Denise. “I want to be that one person to break the division between black-owned and white-owned companies.”
In 2018, Denise hopes to reach 20,000 followers on her Instagram page, which she has shattered already! She admits, she’s a huge procrastinator, but she wants to expand on content, upload more looks, and work with major beauty brands. Her growth has been amazing this year, and next year we won’t be surprised if she’s known by everyone in her home city of Tallahassee!