More often than not, when a celebrity slaps their name across a brand or product it ends up being mediocre – well not this time. Early September, Rihanna dropped her long anticipated ‘Fenty Beauty’ makeup line, launching the brand globally in Sephora and Harvey Nichols. With a whopping 40 shades of foundation, it was released like no other. With contour sticks, a universal lip gloss, highlighting powders and most recently, galaxy palettes, the makeup line was given high praise, especially on social media.
Announcing the official release of the line with a promo video that she shared on Instagram – the short features some of our favourite African “it” models – Australian-Sudanese model Duckie Thot, Slick Woods and Somali-American Halima Aden, who became the first model to wear hijab on the cover of Vogue back in June.
With inclusivity in mind since the idea of Fenty Beauty sparked in 2014, Rihanna definitely pulled through.
Though the more important question here is, why do people of darker complexions have to settle for such a small range of options? Black women spend around $7.5 billion a year on hair and beauty products, so why are there so little brands that cater to our needs?
Many brands, like YSL Beauty and Clé de Peau Beauté have come under fire for having very few shades for darker complexions. Not only are there very few options to choose from, but many products that are made for dark or deep people, contain harsh chemicals. This, however, is not the case with products for people with lighter complexions – despite coming from the same brand. This is also true in regards to hair products that are targeted towards black people. Why do black people have to settle for sub-standard products, when we account for 22 percent of all beauty purchases made in the United States, despite being only 12 percent of the population?
Most of these high-end beauty brands tend to blame the lack of non-white consumers as the reason to not cater to people with darker complexions. Most major brands are known to launch with products for lighter people, then test the market to find out whether people of darker skin would purchase their product.
Rihanna came and proved them wrong; at least thirteen of the darker foundation shades were sold out in many places.
There has however been an increase in diversity in the fashion industry. As non-white models have been gracing the covers of magazines, inclusivity in print media has been prevalent as of late. During the most recent NYFW, models of colour amounted to 27.9 percent. Although far from being perfect, this was an increase from the two seasons – a big step in the right direction for models of colour.
I am not trying to say that Fenty Beauty is the first makeup brand to cater to darker skin tones, just that there are simply not enough. There are some honourable mentions which prioritise women of colour such as CoverGirl that recently signed Issa Rea (#Insecure) and Ayesha Curry to join their spokesmodels team. There are also other black owned makeup brands such as Black Opal, Bobbi Brown, BareMinerals and CoverFX.
Beauty comes in all different shades, skin tones, and textures, and a makeup line that finally caters to and celebrates the beauty of DIVERSITY has been long overdue. Like most, I look forward to seeing what else Rihanna has in store for us. We appreciate Fenty Beauty for setting higher standards and hope that this influences other brands to focus on inclusion when creating their products and get with the times.
Written by Vikki Gitata