“My whole mission is to empower women to look and feel their very best, no matter what they’re doing.”

                                                        — Paula Hayes

Instead of settling for mediocre makeup, Paula Hayes spent her teenage years reading cosmetic dictionaries with a vengeance. “I fell in love with chemistry and biology. So, I started to learn about skin,” she says. Hayes needed a beauty industry solution that was gentle and worked for her acne and skin tone. “I started to learn about what [ingredients] I should stay away from and picked products that didn’t have those. But on the color side, the products that were supposed to be better for my skin didn’t work for my skin tone. I’d go back to something that I thought looked good and then have the same issues all over again.”

Hayes first encountered issues finding a perfect shade in the 1980s and assumed someone else would fix the problem first. But after years working as a chemist in several industries and climbing the corporate ladder, Hayes was well-equipped with skills to do the job herself.

In 2007, Hayes and her family relocated  from Southern California to the Portland metro area, where she found the flexibility, space, and resources she needed to launch a comprehensive, multicultural cosmetic line. She started Hue Noir out of her home in 2009 and resettled into a new, industrial headquarters in Beaverton in 2015.

In addition to lip glosses and eye shadows, the brand now carries foundation in 25 shades that Hayes says, “serve women ranging from fair, nuanced skin tones all the way to the deepest, darkest.” The brand boasts two Best in Show nominations from the Indie Beauty Expo and by spring 2018 will be available in 140 retailers nationwide. “My whole mission is to empower women to look and feel their very best, no matter what they’re doing,” says Hayes. While she expects Hue Noir to be a buyout candidate soon, she says, “I’m a tinkerer at heart…So, I’ll be making something, somewhere. It’s who I am.”


Storyteller: Emily Pradol | Photos: Josh Huff & Cervante Pope | Published: November 2017