The natural beauty industry has progressed in terms of formulations and ranges, but does it still have a way to go in terms of inclusivity and providing a fair representation of all customers who come into stores? Sharna Waid investigates the story so far and the brands doing it right
For a while, the beauty industry has been under scrutiny for being ‘exclusive’ in its ranges and marketing – particularly in terms of stereotypical advertising campaigns and limited choice of foundations. But with public pressure on brands and retailers to take into account our ethnically diverse population, the beauty industry has taken strides in projecting a more inclusive image in recent years.
While the conscious beauty movement can partly thank millennials for its popularity, this same demographic is looking to change the future of beauty inclusivity too. GlobalData identified millennials and Gen Z consumers as being the most skeptical about beauty brands’ commitment to dismantling outdated ideals, leading to a backlash on social media against unachievable beauty standards.
It’s critical for brands to now demonstrate their ethical commitment and be socially inclusive and attentive to all types of people. Rihanna-founded Fenty Beauty launched a range of ‘foundations for all’ in 2017, and although not the first company to offer make-up in an extensive array of skin tones, it quickly became the most talked about in terms of inclusivity.
Fenty provided a 40-strong foundation line, an impactful and progressively diverse marketing campaign and a range of carefully selected retail partners that made the brand accessible. The ‘Fenty effect’ shone an unprecedented spotlight on the need for diverse beauty products, and the nuanced requirements of minority groups.
It might be perceived that due to limitations in formulations and dedicated retail space, the natural beauty industry may be taking a little longer to play catch-up. Historically, the industry has been criticized for not being accessible at the best of times, but with the world finally waking up to the importance of interracial beauty standards and retailers also understanding the significance to their customers, change is happening – and it’s quickly creating a gateway into the hands of a larger audience base.
A natural challenge
“Natural beauty does face more challenges than conventional,” says Kirsten Kjaer Weis, founder of Kjaer Weis. “We are limited in the ingredients available, as well as the quantity that we can source, and the retail space dedicated to natural and clean tends to be smaller than conventional. That’s why natural brands are smaller in size and tend to face more limited resources. That being said, our industry needs to challenge itself to think outside the box and continue to push for inclusivity and strive for diversity in its products, teams and talent. That will be the key to making natural, clean, sustainable brands a viable option for everyone.
“As a clean, indie brand, we’ve always strived to champion being inclusive with our shade range, and with our Invisible Touch Concealer we created an equal range of shades that does not favour one skin tone. This is an initial shade range and we are pleased to say that more will be coming in the not too distant future to accommodate even more shades and undertones. We have, and always will, believe that inclusivity and diversity in our product shades, our team and the talent in front and behind the camera should be the norm, not the exception,” she adds.
“The beauty industry has gone too long without proper and diverse representation. Adding the ‘token’ African American or East Asian model … does not make a company diverse”
With the public demanding morality and equality shifts, more indie brands are emerging in the industry to directly challenge the norm and bring out ethical ranges, colours and formulations to suit a diverse audience. Natural and organic beauty brand Bili Beauty is inspired by the cultures of India. It was founded by Sarah Thomas due to the ‘lack of South Asian representation in the media and the lack of beauty products pigmented enough to suit all skin tones’. Bili Beauty also works to educate others about Indian culture through social media, product artwork, the shade names it chooses for products and the use of Ayurvedic ingredients. As well as this, the brand gives back to the community by supporting Destiny Rescue, a non-profit that rescues children from exploitation.
“The beauty industry has gone too long without proper and diverse representation. Adding the ‘token’ African American or East Asian model in a sea of Caucasian models does not make a company diverse. For most people, seeing themselves represented not only affects how others see them, but it also affects how they see themselves. Representation in the beauty industry is imperative since it deals directly with a person’s appearance and self-esteem, and to continue avoiding this issue tells people that they just don’t exist or don’t have a place in this world. But to see people who look, act and speak like you and come from the same place you come from, could inspire millions of people and change their lives in ways you wouldn’t even think was
possible,” says Thomas.
French start-up Be + Radiance, which is marketed as ‘detox make-up’, also boasts a larger range of foundations, with 20 skin tones. Promoting a clean beauty approach, the foundations are silicone-free and made of cucumber water, plus the packaging is recyclable.
Founder Aïmara Coupet previously took over blackUp cosmetics’ marketing in 2011, and her work in relaunching the entire product catalogue furnished her with a unique level of expertise in mastering the creation of make-up products from light beige to deep black tones.
It’s not just brands who must put the work in though; retailers need to focus their efforts on inclusive promotional materials by stocking BAME-owned brands and ensuring their beauty products serve the diverse range of customers who may come into their store or click onto their online shop. Mel Jenkinson, consultant and founder of Glow Organic, says: “As a retailer, since the BLM movement, we have had lots of discussions with the brands we stock, offering suggestions for foundation shades they should be including in their ranges. We have given brands a time limit to start working on these new shades and if they fail to deliver or show progress or evidence that they are working towards expanding their offering, we will terminate our contract with them.
“All of the brands we have contacted are working on expanding their shades and we are supporting them by offering make-up artist contacts who can help with getting the shades right for darker skin tones. Hynt Beauty has been particularly proactive with this; it has been in R&D for a liquid foundation launch, but realized it wasn’t able to produce enough shade ranges to make this inclusive. Instead, it’s putting its efforts into expanding the shades of its current products to make them more inclusive,” says Jenkinson.
Notably, we’re seeing an unstoppable rise of BAME-owned natural beauty brands within the industry which already understand about formulations that work with different skin types and are committed to catering to diversity. Plant-based skincare company Like it on Top (which emerged out of ‘quarantine boredom’), founded by British sisters Ryanne and Diana, has created a range of natural skincare which focuses on skin problems that can occur with darker complexions. The line includes facial oils, cleansers, toners, body scrubs and butters, all designed to help with cellulite, discoloured skin and hyperpigmentation on arms, elbows, underarms and bikini line.
“Our intention has always been to create a brand that caters to all skin tones, textures and pigments. As black British women we … felt that beauty brands have always catered to a more mainstream target audience based on their marketing strategy. We champion all types of people at Like It On Top, no matter how you choose to identify. We also make a point of featuring people with a range of skin tones, textures and pigments across our marketing channels,” says Ryanne.
“The Black Lives Matter initiative has certainly shone a spotlight on the plight of black people in the US, in turn raising awareness of similar struggles for black people in the UK. In recent weeks we have noticed many of the mainstream beauty brands taking a more positive approach towards working with black and ethnic minority people across their marketing campaigns. However, there is still a long way to go before beauty brands can be considered as genuinely inclusive as opposed to jumping on the Black Lives Matter initiative because it’s simply ‘trendy’ to do so,” adds Diana.
It’s obvious that there has been a growing focus around inclusivity and the authentic representation of people not only with different ethnicities, but also people with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, and older age groups. New US make-up brand, Fluide, for example, focuses on being inclusive towards ‘all gender expressions, gender identities and skin tones’. Fluide also donates 5% of its profits to US LGBTQ+ health organizations and donates products to fundraisers and events to support the community. Its products are colourful, cruelty-free, vegan and free from parabens and phthalates, with a strong marketing campaign that caters to ‘everyone’.
With more players enter-ing and changing the scope of the market, development of these business ideas not only creates a new market niche but also changes stereotyped beauty standards as we know them. It’s now time for natural, organic and ethical retailers and brands to work together to ensure the momentum does not stop here.
Is beauty inclusive?
In June, The British Beauty Council and Ailish Lucas, founder of The Glow Getter Collective, hosted an in-depth discussion with industry experts on the ever-important topic of inclusivity. Panellists covered points in the British Beauty Council‘s recent Diversity & Inclusivity report and expanded on their thoughts and experiences within their different fields in the beauty industry. As well as assessing where the industry is, the webinar looked at where work needs to be done and provided tangible action points to implement change. “It is fundamental that we as an industry need to have more open and honest conversations about race, the issue of racism and more importantly how to dismantle it, so we can all be part of a solution,” said Lucas.
Fiona Ibáñez-Leach, British Beauty Council diversity and inclusion advisor, acknowledged that the British Beauty Council has been striving to support diversity with its inclusivity report and a think tank event set up with the British School of Fashion last year – covering key areas such as educating on skin and hair care, influencers and social media, brand roles, hiring practices, representation at board level and how products are tested.
The panellists voiced concerns over the lack of education around diverse hair and skin types in beauty schools, arguing that footfall is not an acceptable excuse and if the industry wants to move forward this knowledge needs the right educators and sufficient funding behind it. Most importantly, they continued, history of culture should be mandatory on these courses too. The panel concluded that it’s not enough for large corporations and retailers to simply stock a wider range of foundations, it’s now imperative they support BAME-owned independent brands and suppliers at grassroots level too.
The full webinar can be viewed here: rb.gy/qtjnir
Like It On Top offers 100% natural and vegan skin care products for acne, dark marks and hyperpigmentation. Where everything is ‘Made with Love’, Like It On Top is the latest fun-filled plant-based skincare brand that gives your skin all the satisfaction, without the environmental impact. The brand’s #skinpositivity ethos is based on changing the way that you see your skin, instead of focusing on changing the appearance of your skin. Feeling confident on the inside means that we can also feel confident outside – so that you ALWAYS #LikeItOnTop. Available online at www.likeitontop.com or Instagram @LikeItOnTopSkin
Emani New Double Lash Grow Mascara
Amplify + lengthen lashes with Emani Vegan Cosmetics new cutting edge lash serum formula which promotes thicker lashes in 28 days! Organic mung bean coats the lashes with amino acids, proteins, and minerals, while red clover sprout renews + rebalances the follicle cycle with a boost of antioxidants. These botanical extracts offer up a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which promote lash growth by conditioning the lashes while gently stimulating & renewing the delicate follicles. With the use of our vegan + cruelty-free lash serum formula, makeup can actually be a tool for cultivating your natural, bare-faced beauty! Vegan and suitable for sensitive eyes.
‘Eyes of India’ eyeshadow palette
Bili Beauty is a vegan, cruelty free beauty brand made with natural and organic ingredients with highly pigmented products that show up on all skin tones! Bili Beauty was started by Sarah Sophy Thomas, a born and raised California girl that comes from a traditional South Indian family. Growing up in the US, Sarah noticed a lack of South Asian representation in the media and decided to combine the love for her culture with her passion for makeup and start her own cosmetics company inspired by her Indian culture. Through a variety of cosmetic products Bili Beauty aims to not only bring more pigmented makeup to the market, but to also educate others about the Indian culture through Indian artwork, shade names and Ayurvedic ingredients. They also consistently address topics such as colorism, casteism, mental health, and racism hoping to open up discussions and create a positive change in the South Asian community. Bili Beauty’s first launch, the ‘Eyes of India’ eyeshadow palette, is where culture meets the art of makeup. The 6 gorgeous shimmer shades and 4 rich matte shades represent the captivating beauty of India, a country bursting with bright colors and rich tradition. This 10-pan eyeshadow palette can be used to create a variety of looks from rich neutrals to vibrant pops of color. Explore the essence and beauty of this enchanting country through the ‘Eyes of India’ palette and be immersed in its many colors through the art of makeup. Bili Beauty also strongly believes in giving back to the community and proudly supports Destiny Rescue which is a non-profit organization that rescues children out of sexual slavery and exploitation, restores their lives, and prepares them for brand new futures.
Gone are the days of limited choices when it comes to natural and organic make-up. The newest additions to the benecos Natural Beauty range are not only certified COSMOS Organic but are also suitable for vegans! From foundations, concealers, powders, blushers, bronzers and contour powder to a wide range of eyeshadows, mascaras, lip balms and even liquid lipsticks, the benecos makeup range has you covered. For more information contact [email protected]
Tinted CBD Balm
2 exciting new CBD products for your lips. Meet our 2 new funky lip tints.Red Cherry and Ultraviolet. Red cherry will tint your lips a with a luscious red and leave them with a lipgloss shine. Ultraviolet is for some funky colour and lip gloss shine. Hydrating, protective, repairing, nourishing and soothing with 1% CBD. Keeps lips soft. Add some shine and shimmer to your daily care. No handbag should be without one!
Arizona Sunrise makeup collection
Zao has launched Arizona Sunrise makeup collection, inspired by dreams of travelling to far-flung destinations. The keyword for Zao’s 2020 summer collection is individuality.
Awakening your thirst for freedom and the exhilaration of the great outdoors, Zao urges you to be independent, strong, authentic and free. Inspired by the hues of sun-parched desert landscapes and the warm, earthy tones of high summer, Zao has added new products to its range with these new shades. Zao have created a Lip Gloss in Peach Nude, making a total of six shades offered. Next up is a Lip Ink in Coral Pink, with this new range of award-winning matt liquid lipsticks now encompassing five shades with this flattering new shade addition. The next product is a matt peachy blush named Natural radiance, a delightful addition to Zao’s blush range. Zao has also added 4 new catwalk-inspired shades of gold, peachy pink, intense brown and red ochre to its rectangular refill eyeshadow collection, which fits its best-selling refillable bamboo Duo Eyeshadow Palette with mirror and double-ended sponge applicator. Finally, Zao has added two new hot shades to its expanding ’10 free’ nail polish collection: Biscay Bay, a beautiful blue-green, and La Vie en Rose, a deliciously girly deep rose pink. These 10 free nail polishes are free from 10 known toxicants traditionally made from petrochemicals, instead using agro-solvents from potato, manioc, corn and wheat to create a 74-84% natural product that is enriched with silica, thanks to the bamboo extract.
Zao’s makeup collection is certified organic and 100% natural, including even preservative. A brand with a conscience, Zao is certified Vegan and Cruelty Free, using sustainable and stylish bamboo packaging for its refillable makeup, to reduce plastic consumption by 90% across the brand and to encourage thoughtful consumption with a smaller footprint.