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Diversity Sells

Prepared by Melissa Landaverde

6, March, 2018
Whether it is high-end or drugstore makeup, the makeup industry seems to not understood what it
means to have a “range” of skin tone foundations. It wasn’t until global popstar singer, Rihanna,
launched her makeup line FENTY with 40 shades of foundation to represent all skin tones. For
years, minorities have been begging for more diversity when it comes to concealers, foundations,
powders, etc. Rihanna finally brought diversity to light, changing the way the makeup industry
markets their products.

Historically, chemist and formulators did not have to factor in diverse skin tones, which results in
the lack of resources to formulate the right shades for minorities. Technically, the first foundation
was created back in the seventy-century for only white women. Before actual foundation was
invented, women would use “chalk” to look more fair as a symbol of privilege.

For decades, makeup companies have failed to realize there are more skin tones than just beige
and deep tan. In 1990, Maybelline, then being America's second most profitable makeup brand,
launched “Shades of You,” a makeup line for women of color. “Shades of You” was a step in the
right direction and it influenced many other makeup companies but the line did not last very long
in the industry. The products did not contain the right formula and the company lacked minorities
working for Maybelline.

To create makeup for a new market a company needs to invest in research, funds, marketing, and
testing. In 1999, L’Oreal chemist, Balanda Atis, discovered often times the makeup created for
women of color was too red or too black. Balanda and other chemist who worked for L’Oreal were
able to travel to different regions of the United States and internationally, such as South Africa, to
gather more skin tone measurements to create foundations for all skin ranges. Creating foundation
for women of color is not as simple as just darkening the color of a lighter foundation. Balanda
noticed that the pigmentation does not get blacker but deeper in color. Scientifically formulating
the right shades was primarily the makeup industries’ problem.

FENTY Beauty, trendsetter

On September 8, 2017, Rihanna launched FENTY Beauty, a makeup line with 40 shades of
foundations, ranging from very light colored people (such as albino) to a very deep color with red
undertones. Her line came with other products such as highlighters and lipsticks, but her
foundation is what set the bar for other makeup brands like Kylie Cosmetics, it Cosmetics, NARS,
etc. Rihanna not only showed the need for diversity in her makeup but also in her campaigns. She
featured women ranging from deep-toned African women to Asian, to Middle Eastern women.

For years, companies’ excuses for not supplying a variety of shades was “black don’t sell.” Yet,
FENTY Beauty’s dark shades sold out the same day in stores and online, silencing cynics who
believed black doesn’t sell. The brand produced $72 million worth of earned media its first

Since the launch, other brands have suddenly become “diverse.” Below are snapshots of makeup
brands’ instagram post showing the influence FENTY had on these companies. Notice in the first
picture is a white asian women showing 11 shades of foundation on her arm. Only 4 out of the 11
shades are dark shades versus on the picture that was posted after the FENY launch showing
twice as many shades and arms of color. The second and third pictures shown below, one can
visually see the difference in the shades that are advertised. The first picture shows products with
shades basically identical to each other versus the post after the FENTY launch with more

Before After
August 18, 2017 September 11, 2017
Instagram: esteelauder

Before After
July 8. 2017 September 12, 2017
Instagram: nyxcosmetics
Before After
August 26, 2017 September 11, 2017
Instagram: narsissist

Social Media
The focal point of 2017 going into 2018 is diversity. Consumers are watching to see who is paying
attention. Companies can no longer hide from the public, social media today is stronger than ever.
Youtubers, to bloggers, to celebrities, even everyday twitter/instagram users are using their
platform to applaud companies for inclusivity and bash those who are lacking it. Fortunately,
companies are able to use social media as a feedback source from consumers and able to learn
about their mistakes and understand what is needed. Below are snapshots of tweets from twitter
calling out TART and it Cosmetics for their shade range. Notice in both photos the color range is
Inclusivity matters cannot be ignored any longer. Consumers are starting to backlash against
companies for the lack of diversity in their products and campaigns. There is so much demand, yet
no supply. Rihanna has set the bar for companies, leaving no excuses as to why companies are not
providing diversity. In order for companies to avoid backlash, they need to start meeting the needs
of consumers of all colors and races. Companies say “black doesn’t sell,” without realizing the
whole time that they are not marketing to minorities or creating the right products. Majority of the
issues come from the lack of minorities working for them. The makeup industry needs more people
of color to better understand the culture. Companies will never be the same after FENTY Beauty.

Work Cited

Keegan Fornoff. “How Fenty Beauty Changed the Diversity Standard,” Study Breaks, 23,
September, 2017,

Donya Momenian. “Foundation for change: Fenty Beauty may revolutionize cosmetics
industry,”CollegiateTimes, 2,October,2017,

Marissa G. Muller. “How Rihanna's Fenty Beauty Is Ushering in a New Era of Inclusivity in the
Beauty Industry,” W Magazine, 19, September 2017,

Funmi Fetto. “Five Trends That Will Transform Beauty In 2018,” VOGUE, 26, December, 2017,

Clover Hope. “The Makeup Industry's Frustrating Cycle of Struggle and Progress for Women of
Color,” Jezebel, 23, August, 2016,

Paula Reid. “Will 2018 Finally See Beauty Brands Release Diverse Foundation Shade Ranges,”
Fashion Magazine, 29, January, 2018,