Im sure by now Evvverrrybody has heard that our girl Rihanna launched a makeup line. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna was launched on September 8th and as with most things, I was one of the last to know… lol! I had no idea Rihanna was launching a makeup line until everybody and their grandma was all up in my snapchat stories showing their trip to Sephora- I was like.. Girl wheeet???
As a woman of colour (WOC), I can attest that it is often quite hard to find foundations that match my skin tone. I was about 15, living in the Netherlands, when I first started to wear makeup. I went to one of the large department stores in search of foundation. After walking around for what seemed like an eternity, I walked up to one of the ladies who worked to tell her that I needed help ‘looking for my foundation’. She looked at me, gave me an awkward smile and said ‘I’m sorry but we don’t have anything for people like you here.’
I was disappointed, hurt, it felt unfair that I couldn’t try on the same products that my friends could. It seemed like the door to the whole makeup and beauty world was closed on me. I grew up with the notion that I was not important or not significant enough to have products made with ‘people like me’ in mind.
Even after 10 years, it can still be hard to find a shade of foundation that works without mixing 2-3 shades to get the perfect brown. It makes sense- dark skin is complicated and I understand that we have different undertones that makes colour matching so difficult.
I personally would not go as far as to call Fenty Beauty revolutionary. Makeups brand have been making shades for dark skin tones for many years. In fact Makeup Forever put out a statement recently saying
“Since 2015, the #ultraHDfoundation released 40 shades for everyone’s unique skin tone understanding the difference between red and yellow undertones. With expertise, time and passion — we shall continue to develop and improve our products for pros, for you, for everyone”
So there is nothing revolutionary about 40 shades of foundation. What is great, is that Rihanna is raising awareness to the fact that there is a problem when it comes to providing makeup for women of colour. Fenty Beauty is an inclusive brand where WOC like me are a focus not but an afterthought.
Although 38 percent of women in the U.S. are non-white, many makeup companies have lagged in producing shades deep enough for darker skin tones. And when they have produced darker shades, their marketing and promotion tend to focus on the lighter spectrum- as if they are only marketing to that subset of the population.
The industry has tried to hide behind claims that WOC or those individuals needing darker shades don’t have the buying power…
Take a look at this picture which proves that if you give them the product… they will buy it!!
Is Fenty Beauty a WIN for Women of Colour? I think so.. It shines light on a fact that we already knew- That WOC are interested in makeup and that they will buy products if provided for them. It also shines light on the fact that others in this industry have been weak in terms of including and marketing their products to people of all shades.
The Future of Beauty?
Check out some marketing strategies of others in the industry AFTER the launch of Fenty Beauty. It is sad..actually quite laughable because before September 8th, none of these brands were posting images of WOC on their social media or marketing with WOC as a focus.