Makeup brands are failing in diversity

Sarahy Lopez, News Editor

Makeup brands have been scrambling to produce more inclusive products after the launch of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty collection.

Brands that have seemingly only catered to lighter-skinned women, such as Marc Jacobs and Estee Lauder, seemed to have changed their social media marketing patterns in a matter of days after Rihanna’s makeup brand launch in September of last year.

Marc Jacobs’s Instagram page changed from having primarily pictures of white women to showcasing darker skinned models. Even MAC started uploading more photo shots of their darker foundation shades. Makeup campaigns only stressed on making products available to people of color when they were accused of only catering to lighter skinned individuals.

Indeed, after the 40-shade collection of the Fenty Beauty foundation launched online and in Sephora stores, skin color diversity in makeup brands has become a sensitive topic among makeup lovers.

Rihanna’s collection not only provides an impressive shade selection, but also stresses the importance of having a diverse and a correct range of skin colors. Certain makeup brands fail to realize that dark skin tones also have cool, warm and neutral undertones.

While makeup companies claim to be inclusive, offering what to the untrained eye can seem as multiple choices, skin undertones are still hard to match, resulting in limited options.

Having the wrong undertone to your foundation can result in having a gray cast over the face or looking too orange or just having an unnatural unevenness from the face to the rest of the body. Dark-skinned women barely have any choices, and their one choice in that sea of vanilla is often the wrong undertone.

Social media has had a whirlwind of uproars over brands being more inclusive. Tarte Cosmetics went under fire a couple months ago after they announced their newest product, the Shape Tape Foundation. Several beauty bloggers noted the lack of diversity in their line, pointing out that there were more lighter shades than darker shades, the ratio being way off once again.

The backlash on social media resulted in the company having to push back their launch date. Many people, once again, brought up Fenty Beauty’s makeup line and their ability to immediately set a wide-range of products on the first day of launch. If Rihanna can do it, why can’t other major makeup companies do the same?

Not only is the beauty industry failing to realize that African-American women alone spend about $7 billion on beauty products annually, but they are failing to properly promote and market to wider audiences.

The truth is that the beauty industry needs more diversity overall, not just in their makeup color range. There needs to be more women of color involved in chemistry labs and production, marketing and in representing the brand itself, from spokespersons to ambassadors.
The marketing efforts from white people to an African-American audience is not going to be received well, as proven by the backlash on social media. In order for makeup to be a true fit, as many try to proclaim in their marketing ads, companies need to know what people of color need, and who better to create that than someone of color. It doesn’t help when that same makeup brand only has one or a few deep shapes, compared to the vast choices that lighter-skinned women get to pick from.

The audience reach will expand when the brand expands its diversity. Makeup brands have gone too long without understanding their consumers and have failed to create true skin colors of foundations.

My only hope is that they realize this and in the future, become more inclusive to minorities and people of color in the beauty industry business.