Diversity and the beauty industry have always been at odds. For decades now, it has been shown that many companies have only catered toward a certain demographic of individuals, and only within the last decade a push has begun for everybody to have themselves represented in cosmetics.
“I struggled for years to find the right powder shade or foundation shade,” said Belange Mutunda, a freelance fashion designer, founder of Belange Handmade LLC and Iowa State alumna. “It wasn’t until Fenty Beauty launched that I finally found the right foundation that matches my skin tone. Before that, I had to buy multiple foundations from various brands and mix them to find the right shade.”
For many individuals throughout the past years, it had simply become the norm to have to go out of their way to mix shades or buy different products in order to make their everyday routine work.
Though it can be uncomfortable to admit, much of the reason for this inequality and lack of representation in the beauty industry stems from the racism and colorism that individuals of color have faced in the U.S. and all over the world for centuries.
“I am 100 percent positive that the colorism issue not only works its way into the beauty industry but even goes farther than that,” Mutunda said. “Even fashion brands tend to like models of fair skin tones rather than dark models, and this brings a severe imbalance to the industry.”
While the fashion and beauty industries have begun to make changes toward inclusivity, it seems there are still many changes to be made.
Oftentimes, something that can be a large struggle for Black individuals is being seen as the “token” person of color in a campaign or advertisement. There will be times when a brand will only hire one or two individuals of color to fill a sort of “quota,” but this does not truly bring about diversity.
“I think many companies are making promises to people because they fear the cancel culture, but in a real sense, many of them are just there to make profits,” Mutunda said. “I think a change has to start when they hire their employees and trickle down to customers, even. If there is a lack of racial representation within a company, how can they be more educated and serve a broader target market and cater to all races?”
Though it may seem difficult to find diverse brands to support within the large scale of the beauty industry, here is a compiled list of a few great diverse and inclusive brands, with many being Black-owned companies themselves. Supporting Black businesses is one of the first ways to make sure BIPOC communities have their voices and opinions heard.
A cosmetics brand launched in September 2017 by the star herself, Rhianna named her brand after her full name: Robyn Rihanna Fenty. Since its inception, it has touted a huge color range for not only base products but highlighters, bronzers and blushes. Rihanna created the range after struggling herself to find makeup products that worked for her skin type, and in so doing, she created a brand that can reach everyone of every skin color.
With products that look as sweet as they apply, Beauty Bakerie is a Black-owned cosmetics company that creates dessert-inspired beauty products for anyone from any background. Creator Cashmere Nicole created Beauty Bakerie after seeing the lack of products available on the market for those with deeper skin, but she still wanted the line to be fun and exciting. Since starting the brand, Nicole has donated money to many charities working to serve not only Black individuals but those from all marginalized communities.
Mented is a unique cosmetics company in that virtually all of their shades and products cater to those who are of a deeper complexion. The products can be used by anyone but are created with those who generally have a harder time finding a complexion product that works for them in mind. The idea of Mented first started around finding the perfect nude lipstick but has since expanded to include blushes, eyeshadows, highlighters and so many more products.
Juvia’s Place is a brand that was first created to help individuals of color find eyeshadows that would work for their skin tone. After the owners noticed there was a lack of pigmented eyeshadows on the market for deeper complexions, they decided to figure out a way to create eyeshadow palettes that could be inclusive for everyone. Since creating their eyeshadow formula, Juvia’s Place has expanded out to all other types of cosmetic products for anyone and everyone.
While there may be struggles surrounding the inclusivity of many industries, it is always important to remember there are so many options available, and voting with your dollar is one of the best ways to make your voice heard.