For years, the beauty industry has relied on a binary conceptualization of gender and thin, white beauty ideals to sell their products. From skin-lightening creams to photoshopping models to look unrealistically thin, brands have further pushed these European beauty standards on consumers, creating a toxic culture that does not represent the majority of women and men. But recently, some beauty brands have taken a risk by ditching these ideals and promoting messages of inclusivity and diversity. And these risks have paid off-- inclusivity-based brands like Fenty Beauty and Glossier have only grown since their conception.
When Rihanna dropped her 40-shade foundation line under the brand name Fenty Beauty in September 2017, it received immediate adoration. According to The Cut, a handful of the darkest shades immediately sold out. Since the release, according to WWD, Fenty Beauty has been projected to outsell brands like Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Beauty and Kim Kardashian’s KKW in the upcoming months, and has already outsold Kat Von D. Unsurprisingly, according to Slice Intelligence, Fenty Beauty had the highest amount of black and Latinx customers amongst all makeup brands examined, showing the high demand for and importance of shades that match all skin tones.
Similarly, CoverGirl became a beauty industry risk-taker when it selected makeup artist James Charles to be its first male spokesmodel in October 2016. In early 2017, Maybelline followed in CoverGirl’s footsteps by announcing influencer Manny Gutierrez, or Manny MUA, as the newest face of its Big Shot Mascara campaign. Gutierrez, who identifies as gay, shows how Maybelline successfully challenged hyper-masculine culture and the persistent idea in the beauty industry that only women wear makeup. With so many successful male beauty influencers on social media, it was about time that established brands began taking risks to challenge gender norms and promote inclusivity through their platforms.
CoverGirl further pushed the beauty industry’s boundaries in late September 2017 by announcing that its newest ambassador would be 69-year-old model Maye Musk. Usingan older model as a brand ambassador was previously unheard of for such established beauty brands. By including a model who does not represent a youthful beauty ideal, CoverGirl affirmed the power of age diversity in the makeup industry.
Most recently, cult beauty brand Glossier took a stand against typical beauty norms with its Body Hero campaign. The campaign, which debuted in September 2017 and promoted the brand’s newest body products, included women with five different skin tones and body types. With billboards in large cities across the country displaying such a wide range of women, Glossier reinforced its mantra that beauty is about being the best version of yourself.
As these few established brands successfully challenge beauty industry ideals, they have taken strides toward fostering a culture of diversity and acceptance. Considering the growth and popularity of these groundbreaking brands, those that remain exclusive will undoubtedly need to step up or prepare to be outsold in a new era of inclusion and representation in the beauty industry.