Women of color and white models randomly lined up and smiling in front.

“Beauty for All”: Beauty Inclusivity Trend in the Beauty Industry

What is inclusivity?

Four different skin-tone women stand and look in the front
Photo by Artem Varnitsin

“Inclusivity is humanity. It represents our differences while celebrating culture and identity. Inclusivity encompasses an equal representation, accessibility, and affordability.”-HYPEBAE

When the beauty industry mentions inclusivity, it means all skin tones, skin types, and each individual.

“Inclusive beauty refers to the beauty that caters to all individuals, regardless of their gender, age, religion, skin tone, skin type, etc..”-CB insights

Some historical moments in the beauty industry

32 years ago, in 1989, Naomi Campbell covered the September Vogue edition. It was the first time a black woman appeared on the magazine’s cover. She also appeared on the cover of French Vogue as the first black woman.

Last year, in June 2020, the fashion brand called “du jour” from Gussi started its beauty campaign, “Unconventional Beauty”. They chose Ellie Goldstein, a model with Down’s syndrome to celebrate diversity, body positivity, and inclusion. They’ve received a huge amount of positive responses from the public. And the Instagram post of this shoot became one of the brand’s most popular posts. This campaign achieved roughly $6 million in MIV.

And there is more. MAC cosmetics has raised their program M-A-C VIVA GLAM more than $500 million. This program is for the fight against HIV / AIDS. Moreover, to support equal rights for women and LGBTQ communities.

Diversity and inclusivity have taken the public’s eyes worldwide. Nowadays, brands are reacting to society’s voice and marketing campaigns. It has become a vital trend, but why?

A new viral trend

“Beauty for All” is a campaign by Fenty Beauty and it sparked worldwide. Since they launched their brand in 2017, this campaign leads the change of the beauty industry toward inclusivity.

Amira Freyer-Elgendy, a consumer analyst at data analytics commented in the article Cosmetics design-europe.com, “Beauty for all: Getting Inclusivity right is ‘difficult’ but ‘vital’ for big brands”, says GlobalData.

“The beauty industry has had a hand in shaping beauty ideals across the years and a company using that power and influence to make beauty standards kinder and more inclusive is respectable.”

“Standards have been raised. Consumers rightly expect more from brands nowadays-with skin tone inclusivity being a clear initial indicator of diversity. This is a very visual and obvious market, especially in the context of Black marginalization gaining more attention in the public consciousness over the last year.”

According to Beauty Packaging, consumers want to see the diversity in beauty brand’s ads. Why? There are 2 main reasons. The first one is because it reflects real life. And the second one is because it shows that there are different ways to be beautiful.

Consumer demand changed its way. They seek products that just fit well for them. Or they even expect personalized items. Also, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the LGBTQ+ movement inspired people’s demands.

Limited color variation

Many different shades of triangle lined up
Image by LYS Beauty

“Even though we went to lengths to show consumers that we carried darker shades of foundation, those shades never seemed as heavily stocked as their lighter counterparts, including even those fairest shades that rarely ever sold in our location.”-Mika Robinson

Fenty Beauty, produced by Rihanna, came out with 40 foundation shades in 2017. Huda Beauty came out with 30. This movement in the beauty industry made other brands rush to catch up. But unfortunately, there are still many brands that don’t carry different shades.

YSL All Hours Foundation

The first example is YSL. In summer 2017, they launched All Hours Foundation with 22 shades. They introduced the products as waterproof, transfer-resistant, lasting all day, and fitting all skin tones. Even though 19 out of 22 shades are for lighter skin tones. After their launch and being criticized by the public, they updated to add more shades. Now the YSL All Hours Foundation collection has 25 shades.


The second example is Beautyblender’s 32 shades foundation. Through their first makeup products launch, many people pointed out their lack of color variations. According to Insider, the majority of their shade ranges are for those who have light to medium skin tones. And only have a few darker colors. And they announced the statement to Teen Vogue.

“Of our 32 Bounce blends, half the shades (16) are formulated for a range of olive to dark skin tones. And it includes subtle nuances that make a world of difference on the skin. We truly want everyone to find their perfect match. So, to ensure this, we put our shades to the test against some of the most inclusive on the market. While the range goes both very light as well as very dark, we have THE MOST shades in what we call our ‘medium plus’ range. This was created specifically for people of multicultural backgrounds as they have the hardest time finding the right shade to match their undertone.”

It Cosmetics

The final example is It Cosmetics. When they launched Bye Bye Foundation, the public immediately responded to their lack of shades. They had only 12 shades of foundation released. And 3 out of 12 were designed for darker skin tones. Their parent company is L’Oreal. The Insider described that L’Oreal has a very good selection for the shade ranges. So it’s a questionable situation. If L’Oreal has access to creating a variety of shade foundations, then what happened to It Cosmetics? They shared the statement with Allure.

“Bye Bye Foundation is the first-ever full-coverage moisturizer from IT Cosmetics. It’s a skin-care product, infused with seven key fermented ingredients plus SPF 50 physical-only sunscreen and full-coverage pigments. Typically, SPF moisturizers with physical-only sunscreens have only been possible in a few shades. And at IT Cosmetics we’ve spent the past 2 years creating 12 skin-tone-adapting shades for this moisturizer (3 Light, 3 Medium, 3 Tan, and 3 Rich). And we continue to work hard to challenge this further.”

“Due to the physical-only SPF in the product, we’re not able to go darker than our deepest shade. Expanding our shade range is a top priority and we are working on it!”

How Fenty Beauty changed the industry

Many color foundations lined up
Photo by Fenty Beauty

Now we know that Fenty Beauty launched a sensational campaign, and its products became a game-changer for the beauty industry. Rihanna, who is already an influential global star, and the founder of Fenty Beauty. But the impact of the brand is beyond that of a celebrity beauty brand. As we’ve seen, the relationship with diversity has been a huge topic to discuss within the beauty industry. So, besides its founder Rihanna, how did they change the beauty industry?

Their legendary opening product was a foundation with a 40 range of range. The brand made $100 million in over a month. After their launch, many brands extended their shade range to a wider match for various skin tones.

“Time magazine named it one of the 25 Inventions of the Year, and what is now known as the “Fenty Effect” took hold. — Forty shades became the new standard. Anything less was deemed apathetic, anything more (brands are still desperately trying to outdo one another, launching 50, 60, and even 100 foundation shades), was celebrated as a trump card.” –British Vogue

However, the issue in the beauty industry isn’t only about the foundation’s color range. It is about representation and equality. As an outcome, their darkest shades sold out at first. This fact made other brands think. Without an inclusivity strategy, there would be a very difficult path for their growth. Fenty Beauty proved that women of color have huge power as consumers.

Before Fenty, “inclusive beauty” didn’t catch the public’s eyes. But now, it has become a basic concept for the beauty industry. Still, some brands aren’t making significant progress towards inclusivity. However, they are thinking and trying it. The fact is, Fenty Beauty didn’t actually use these words. Instead, “Beauty For All” was their main campaign that was very effective against the idea and ideals of beauty standards.

Clean beauty retailers and their lack of diversity

A few leaves and some cosmetic ingredients randomly appeared.
Photo by Good House Keeping

Firstly, what is clean beauty? It refers to natural beauty, green beauty.

“Clean Beauty is defined by byproducts that are mindfully created and produced without any proven or suspected toxic ingredients. Clean Beauty products include ingredients ethically sourced and are made with the health of our bodies and the environment in mind.”- The Clean Beauty Box

It doesn’t need to be 100% organic or natural. As long as the ingredients are safe, non-toxic, man-made ingredients are also included. In other words, it’s a non-toxic beauty. This means they don’t need to be “green”.

The issue here is that the demand for clean beauty has become higher but their lack of inclusivity has caught public attention.

So how does it relate to inclusive beauty?

To talk about their relationship, there are several examples that we need to know. The first one is Goop, made by Gwyneth Paltrow in 2008. At first, she created Goop as a weekly wellness newsletter. And later it expanded to a website.

Rachel Brown from Beauty Independent described Paltrow.

“She helped define clean beauty as a healthy alternative to conventional luxury beauty with the aspirational, exorbitant, and restrictive trappings of its predecessor. She embodied the category as a thin, wealthy white woman.”

While this brand carries roughly 230 brands on their website, only 5 brands have black founders.

However, this is not only the case. There are still more retailers that have a lack of black-owned brands in their diversity.

Another example is Follain, the online clean beauty retailer. In their clean beauty brands list, only one has a black founder out of 45 others. Furthermore, Credo Beaty carried around 150 brands and only four have Black founders. The Detox Market carries 170 brands and has five Black-owned brands.

Black-owned brands versus clean beauty retailer

Last year, after Black Lives Matter began in May, consumers and insiders of the beauty industry called out clean beauty retailers for their lack of diversity.

For black, clean beauty founders and consumers, the lack of inclusivity is no surprise. Even despite the recent protests, the retailer’s progress has been slow. Only changing the foundation shade ranger wider isn’t enough for inclusivity.

Inclusive brand lists haven’t been a priority for retailers. Already many black founders have asked their brands to be on the lists of clean beauty selections. But they have received a rejection or been ignored.

Rahama Wright, a founder of SheaYeleen, has also been turned away by retailers. She explained the situation.

“I think that there can literally be 1,000 white people selling the same thing, and it’s still OK. But, if there are two black people selling something similar, we have too many of the same things.”

Clean beauty retailers have made some statements.

The Detox Market announced that “it will improve hiring, professional training, and career advancement practices for Black, Indigenous, and people of color. And seek diverse job candidates for openings in the full range of positions, including those in leadership.”

Follain says, “We will deliberately and proactively source diverse candidates for all future open roles across the organization. From internships to leadership positions.” It also promised to expand its influencer partnerships to more inclusive content.

Model minorities with inclusivity

A man or woman is illustrated on the left side of the image. On the right side there are question marks and some thoughts.
Image by Zenerarion on Instagram

“A model minority is a minority demographic (whether based on ethnicity, race, or religion) whose members are perceived as achieving a higher degree of socioeconomic success than the population average, thus serving as a reference group for outgroups.” –Wikipedia

This is a stereotyped cultural expectation towards Asian Americans. Such as Asian Americans can always be smart, wealthy, hard-working, and so on.

Overall, we’ve seen that black-owned brands have struggled to be on the lists of clean beauty or there were not many color variations for black consumers. What about Asians?

I, personally, haven’t found a foundation that will match my skin color. Because since I’m Asian, my skin tone isn’t really white, creamy, or tanned color.

LYS Beauty and their view of inclusivity

Many colors foundations are piled up like a tower
Photo by LYS Beauty

As an example, there is a brand called LYS Beauty. It has a black founder. They claimed their mission was “To diversify The Clean Beauty Industry”.

On their official website, they explained their differences compared to others, “LYS™ is a proud supporter and participant of the sustainability movement, including the implementation of sustainably made product packaging and cartons.”

And for their environmental commitment, they explained: “Convicted by the passion to celebrate the overlooked, cater to the forgotten, and include the left-behind, each formula is uniquely designed to satisfy your beauty wants while taking care of your skincare needs”

Fewer Asian models and what does it mean?

They launched a 35 shades range for their first foundation. However, on their website, for the light shade foundation, models are all white. Eventually, I only found one Asian model out of 35 models. Furthermore, in their main visual image, there are no Asians.

Of course, Asian skin tones are quite similar to white people’s. So the majority of them can afford their foundation with a light color. So the model minority is invisible, since not many Asians claim it.

But what model minority and this stereotyped expectation can do is quite huge.

Youth Organization called “Zeneration” described, “We are not saying other forms of racism have not been normalized. We are trying to shine a light on the plight of Asians in the wake of recent attacks.- The model minority myth, which alludes to the idea that Asian-Americans are all inherently wealthy and successful, plays a great role in this. Because it creates a fallacy that Asians are immune to racism and discrimination.”

“More often than not, popular news outlets tend to dismiss racist attacks towards Asians. This is linked to the lack of public knowledge about the jeopardization of the Asian population.”

Beauty for all

The minority community included black and Asian people. They all each have a view of inclusivity. Even though there are still model minorities towards Asian remains, it’s still a very positive move that Black-owned brand LYS achieved their clean beauty and showed their inclusivity to the world.

Racism still remains in many ways in the beauty industry. Only making a wider range of colors for cosmetic products isn’t enough for the remarkable change.

To move forward with a more inclusivity and equal industry, it is important that each minority brand supports one another and takes more action with retailers. And that will help to achieve real diversity.

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