Diversity For Women of Colour: Is this a never ending battle?

Hi guys, welcome back to my space.

This post is a collaboration between me and Charlotte from Memoirs and Musings.

We are both very passionate about addressing the lack of diversity within the beauty industry. In this post, we will be praising the brands that we feel are getting it right and exploring why we think some beauty brands are still failing to provide a diverse product offering.

Before we start, we are going to reveal what our fave makeup products are:

Kelle’s Beauty Essentials

Foundation: Black Up CC Cream Multi Action (Complexion Correcting Foundation). 

Lipstick: NYX Professional Makeup Matte Lipstick  in the shade Maison. 

 Mascara: NYX Super Luscious Volume and Length Mascara

Charlotte’s Beauty Essentials

Foundation: Nars All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation (My shade is Tahoe or Macao when I have a tan). I’m NC45 in Mac for reference. 

Lipstick: Mac Spirit is one I have re-bought time after time.

Highlighter: I can’t choose one so I’m gonna choose three… the Make Up Revolution baked highlighter in ‘Golden Lights’ (£3 and looks AMAZING on every skintone), the Fenty Matchstix in Sinamon and Benefit Watts Up. 

1) Before the launch of Fenty Beauty, were you aware of any beauty brands for WoC in the market? 

Kelle: Pre Fenty Beauty, these are the beauty brands for WoC that I was aware of:

brands for woc

In addition to the above, I was also aware of brands such as MAC Cosmetics, NARS and Sleek Make Up.

Char: Fashion Fair, LA Girl, Nars, Mac, Black Up, Iman et al. 

2) Why do you think the beauty industry is ignoring its biggest spenders?

Kelle: The biggest problem I think the beauty industry has is processing and implementing customer feedback. The majority of beauty brands are very happy to go along with trends or emulate their competitors in fear due to their desire to maintain their relevance. As consumers, I think that we all deserve to gain an insight into how brands we spend our money on are using sales figures and feedback from focus groups to better inform their product development process. 

According to the Office of National Statistics, the black and mixed race population will reach 35% of the total population by 2035. The IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) estimates that WoC spend £4.8 billion on products and treatments! The IPA have also found that WoC spend six times more than their Caucasian counterparts on their hair…

Char: Blatant ignorance to be honest. 

Kelle: I couldn’t agree more.

Char: I always wonder what if I’m away for the weekend and I forget my foundation, if I pop down to the local drugstore and they don’t have my shade what can I do? Nothing. It makes you feel helpless in a way. Beauty should be inclusive not exclusive. The fact that my skin colour exists should be enough for it to be available. I do understand that if I’m going to be in a place for example, Sweden, that darker shades may not be available but why has this become the norm. I’m glad I live in an culturally diverse place like London where I can easily get my shade if I need to, but for those with deeper skintones, it’s not easy. The more sparesly populated an area is, the less likely they are to have beauty products for WOC.

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Kelle: Exactly! Beauty brands are playing it safe. They want to stick to what they know and as far as they are concerned, WoC can either look for what suits them or take their money somewhere else. With WoC having such a strong spending power, the world needs to stop and take note. Beauty brands just can’t afford to keep thinking this way. 

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3) What do you think beauty brands should be doing in order to improve on/maintain their offerings for WoC?

Kelle: Firstly, brands should be placing quality over quantity. I’ve walked into shops/department stores and I’m naturally inclined to check out brands that cater to WoC.

I have noticed that there are brands who will launch a new product with an offering of 10 different shades/colours and 5 out of 10 of those shades will all look the same. It’s pointless. I’m actually not alone in my views. 70% of Black and Asian women feel that high street stores don’t cater for their beauty needs (Superdrug, 2016)

Char: 70%?! That’s too high. In my opinion, brands need to research their customer base and find out exactly what consumers want rather than assuming. Yes I’m throwing a little shade, but certain brands need to stop assuming that we want grey flashback in photos… really? …

Kelle: And from the looks of things, even some of our favourite celebrities seem to have fallen victim to this issue…


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4) Do you think that beauty influencers of colour should be fronting beauty campaigns more often?

Char: Of course, BUT it shouldn’t be because brands or companies need to fill a certain quota aka tokenism. It should be a natural fit and should feel inclusive rather than exclusive. Lately, there was an image from a particular brand *cough* YSL, that showed 3 arms of the three different skintones… and the darkest shade…oh boy! 

I mean look:


Kelle: The fact that this is happening in 2018… YSL actually had the audacity to swatch their lighter shades on their darkest model…who approved this?

Char: If these brands had an influencer like me for example (I’m not bigging myself up here in the slightest) consulting them, they would realise this is all kinds of wrong. Why would you photograph shades on a deeper skin toned arm where even the very darkest doesn’t match. Get it together YSL.  And since writing this post, Tarte, another popular beauty brand released their new foundation shades. I’ll let this photo do the talking: 


Image credit: Pop Sugar

Kelle: Do these brands not know that women of colour actually use foundation? The ignorance is unbelievable. Tarte used to work very closely with Make Up Shayla. I wonder if she will continue to endorse their products once she sees this…

Char: What’s promising is influencers like Jackie Aina is working with Too Faced to develop and release darker shades of their Born This Way foundation. If only other brands would take note…


Kelle: It’s actually refreshing to see a brand such as Too Faced teaming up with a darker skinned blogger because some brands recruit mixed race or fair skinned influencers for their campaigns because they have more marketing power. I have noticed that when dark skinned bloggers front beauty campaigns or launch collections, the offering is quite limited (e.g: eyeshadow palettes or highlighters). It’s good to see Too Faced taking a step to change things. To all the brands out there: Take note and let WoC do more!

5) Which products for WoC would you like to see improved/modified and why?

Kelle: I’d like to see foundation offerings improved. There is still a long way to go. Skin types, skin concerns and undertones need to be taken into consideration in order for a real difference to be made. I believe that every WoC needs to be catered to. Times have changed and more brands need to wake up. I think eye shadow palettes need to modified. Personally, I play it safe and stick to palettes with brown shades because I’ve yet to find a brand that caters to WoC completely. This can also depend on preference I guess.

Char: I think we’re finally starting to get foundations, concealers and base products right. There is more options available than ever before and brands are realising than there are more undertones than red or ashy. However, its not just base products that still need to be modified, what about blushes, eyeshadows and bronzers? Whenever I buy an eyeshadow palette, I always find that at least 3/4 of the colours are not for me, I can’t even use the lightest one as a base or brow bone highlight without it looking like the queen of ashiness. Thankfully there are brands like Juvia’s Place, Beauty Bakery who are formulating products right from the get go. 

Kelle: I agree about eyeshadows. I think they do need some looking into. I’ve yet to find a palette with bold, pigmented shades that can compliment my collection. It’s good to see Juvia’s Place filling in that gap in the market but such palettes should be instantly accessible…

6) Which beauty brands/companies do you think are getting it right?

Kelle: The brands that I think are getting it right are IMAN Cosmetics and NARS, Black Up, Lancome, Fenty Beauty, Fashion Fair and Anastasia Beverly Hills. Because I have a yellow undertone, my biggest foundation concern is my face looking red while the rest of me doesn’t.

Char: Nars, Mac, Lancome, Fenty Beauty and Anastasia Beverly Hills. I also have to shout out to some old school brands like Iman and Fashion Fair. Fenty Beauty came out with 40 shades as standard, from very fair to very deep. Some brands launch a new concealer or foundation and have one or two shades for us and I’m probably as dark as they go (*cough* Tarte). What if I get a tan? Then it will be a complete no go for me. It’s not even just the base products like concealers and foundations; it’s eyeshadows, bronzers and blushes too. 

Kelle: Fenty Beauty definitely broke the mould, I agree but Fashion Fair and IMAN did it first. Maybe, WoC will start turning their attention to the old school brands who clearly don’t have a problem giving the customer what they want…

Char: It’s a possibility…

Kelle: Imagine a world where a WoC can walk into any beauty or cosmetics store and find products that were actually created with her in mind? 

Char: It’s time to make this happen and we won’t stop until we are given the recognition we deserve.

Kelle: Absolutely!

7) What do you predict for the future of the beauty industry in 5 or 10 years time?   

Kelle: If the battle for diversity within the beauty industry persists (and it should!), I believe that in the next five to 10 years, there will be more beauty brands launching for sure. However, we (WoC, influencers, bloggers, vloggers, writers et al) need to work together as a collective in order to move forward. With cooperative effort,the beauty industry can really be an open place for us all.

Char: I reckon in the next 5 years we’ll be seeing lots more indie brands pop up over the place with products, In 10 years time, I can’t really say what will happen but it will be interesting to observe and watch this industry evolve. 


I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading this post. 

Don’t forget to tell your friends about Kelle’s Space and Memoirs and Musings (Char).

And don’t forget to like and subscribe 🙂

Kel & Char xo 


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Diversity For Women of Colour: Is this a never ending battle?