In September 2017, Rihanna launched her eponymous beauty brand, Fenty Beauty. Although Trophy Wife was highly spoken of by many, the true stars of the show were the 40 shades of Pro Filt’r Foundation. The launch of these 40 shades, highlighted an issue, to the mainstream, that many black girls have struggled with for far too long. Although Fenty Beauty is not the first beauty brand to cater to a more diverse range of skin tones, it’s most certainly the brand that highlighted the lack of inclusivity in the industry to the masses.

Many other well-known brands quickly followed suit and released their own ranges of 40 shades foundation. Dior released Backstage a new collection of make up which includes their Face and Body foundation in 40 different shades. Estee Lauder’s double wear Stay-in-Place make up comes in 42 shades. CoverGirl’s True Blend Matte Made liquid foundation also comes in 40 shades, the list goes on. Although it is fantastic that many brands are finally catering to a larger pool of women, the timing of these launches begs the question… is inclusivity within the beauty industry simply a trend that will eventually die?

As with many of our blog topics, this is a hard question to answer because there are so many different levels to it. I personally think that it depends on the brand. For brands where inclusivity is part of their ethos, I’d say it’s definitely not a trend. Why? Because diversity and inclusivity should be embedded in everything they do right from the onset, not just when social media highlights a problem. Brands such as MAC have always been fairly inclusive and catered to women of colour for a long time. So, if MAC were to release another range that included 40 completely new shades of foundation I wouldn’t feel like they were doing it to keep up with their competitors.

Also, there’s been a huge rise in the number of black owned beauty brands, some have been around longer than others but the fact remains, they’re out there. For these brands, inclusivity isn’t a trend because inclusivity is the foundation of the brand. Many of these brands were set up out of pure frustration and to deal with a problem within the industry that the majority of mainstream brands couldn’t care less about until recently.

For other brands that don’t fit into either of the above categories, inclusivity could potentially be a trend. The reason I say potentially and not definitely is because we need to do some digging. Why in the past were these brands not inclusive? Why are they now inclusive? And would they have chosen to be inclusive had Fenty not further highlighted a longstanding issue?

In the past, the common reason for the lack of shades for women of colour was that these shades were harder to make. Time, cost and lack of proper formula have also been used as reasons[1]. So why have brands suddenly become more inclusive? Perhaps they now have more time and the correct resource to create the shades many women are after, hence, the newfound inclusion. But would they have chosen to be inclusive had Fenty never launched? Honestly, I think only time will tell. It is fantastic that so many brands have created more shades and this is definitely a step in the right direction for brands that do have inclusivity and diversity at the forefront of their ethos. But for the brands that have never once hinted at either until recently, we’ll never truly know how sincere it all is until the diversity buzz dies down.

Paula M




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