Who remembers when I joined forces with the lovely Charlotte from Memoirs and Musings to discuss diversity in the beauty industry? A lot has happened since this post first went live so Charlotte and I have joined forces yet again to discuss the current state of the beauty industry. Are the voices of WoC really being heard? Is blackfishing degrading? What should brands be doing in order to be diverse? No table has been left unturned in this post and we also want to hear from you too! Use the hashtag #EveryHUEIsBeautiful to get involved.
Kelle – Its Kelle’s Space
How can upcoming/new brands champion diversity?
For brands to champion diversity, I believe they must admit that there is a lack of product and service offerings for people of colour. A problem can’t be addressed without admitting there is an issue. WoC have such a high spending power so why aren’t we being catered to? I recall seeing a thread on Twitter where one WoC was at the airport and needed foundation and she couldn’t find her shade. When she enquired about more shades, she was simply told that ‘that was all they had’. Experiences like this are very frustrating mostly because most brands that we adore are susceptible to such behaviours. Where will the line be drawn?
Market research is also an issue. I don’t think brands should be solving a problem like a lack of diversity internally. I think that they need to adopt a proactive approach to finding out what they should be doing to be more inclusive. NYX are a good example of this. They recently partnered up with YouTuber Alissa Ashley on the Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation range. Even though it has received its fair share of criticism, NYX are going out of their way to make sure WoC are represented. As a former Marketing professional, I also feel that brands should make use of focus groups. Find some WoC, ask them what they would like to see in shops and gain an understanding of who they are. Marketing should be a constant force, especially in an industry that is as competitive as the cosmetics field. Storytelling is also something that brands are starting to introduce, and this helps customers feel like they do matter!
What are your thoughts on the ‘blackfishing ’scandal?
One of the things that shocks me the most about blackfishing is that these influencers have been able to get away with this for so long! The likes of Emma Hallberg reek of deception. The fact that all of these ‘blackfishers’ have modified their appearance to look black is terrible. Hallberg claims she tans very quickly but she lives in Sweden and European countries don’t experience prolonged periods of warmth. You can clearly see from her before and after photos that there is a difference in colour between her face and her body. Black women have struggled to find beauty in their complexion and their hair. We are finally being represented thanks to ground-breaking influencers such as Jackie Aina and Patricia Bright but our culture and our features are being monetised by nonblack women, who perceive our culture as some sort of trend.
Cancel Culture: To be or not to be?
Cancel culture is simply intensified hype. The cancel culture can be toxic and unhelpful. I feel like the cancel culture is started by one person and before you know it, everyone else has adopted the same way of thinking. The rise of social media has made it harder for people to think for themselves. It seems like everyone wants to follow the crowd. Do you remember when Dove, Shea Moisture and Nivea were cancelled, the latter in particular? Nivea were under fire for the launch of a skin lightening cream back in 2017. There were so many calls for people to boycott the brand because of this. Did you know that the word Nivea is taken from the Latin word ‘Niveus’ which means ‘snow-white’? so it was only a matter of time before the brand decided to cash in on the skin bleaching craze. Unfortunately, a lot of brands will cash in on the insecurities of WoC which is why I wasn’t surprised at the news that Blac Chyna has joined forces with singer Dencia’s brand Whitenicious to endorse a new skin lightening cream. WoC are a force to be reckoned with so it is important that we don’t give in to such ideals. We shouldn’t give energy to anything that encourages us to divulge into self-hate and pity. I don’t stan for cancel culture, but I do believe an open mind and willingness to educate yourself as a WoC is key. It is your right and it is your responsibility.
Can controversial brands redeem themselves?
No, I don’t believe that we can. In our society, news travels like wildfire, so when I go to my Twitter feed and I’m seeing swatches of Tarte’s newest foundation with just two or three shades that would be deemed suitable for WoC, I feel so uncomfortable. We buy your eyeshadow palettes, we buy your lipsticks, we even buy your overpriced highlighters, but you can’t get it right when it comes to our foundations? It is 2018 and Black, Asian and Latina women shouldn’t be asking why they aren’t represented. If a brand doesn’t cater to us, we must be aware of this. I would encourage any woman to use a product that doesn’t accentuate her beauty and make her feel good too because that’s what makeup and skincare is all about really. What was it a wise man once said about going where you are celebrated and not where you are tolerated? Just some food for thought…
If I had a brand of my own, what three things would be at its core?
Inclusivity – If I had a beauty brand, I would ensure that inclusivity would reign supreme. I would want every woman to feel like she was represented. Also, I’d like any campaigns I launched to reflect this.
Storytelling – As mentioned earlier, I think storytelling will become even more of a craze in 2019. Brands are starting to realise that pictures and pricing strategies just won’t cut it. Moving the customer’s mind has now become just as important as moving their purse strings.
Quality and Affordability – These two go hand in hand. There’s nothing worse than buying an affordable product that you were really excited about, only for it to fail to live up to your expectations. Any product affiliated with my brand would do exactly what it says on the packaging. I’d also take different skincare needs and requirements into consideration too.
To conclude, I believe that there is still a long way to go in the fight for diversity. What about Fenty Beauty you may say? Well, cosmetics brands for WoC existed way before Fenty did (Iman, Black Opal etc) and part of the brand’s ability to revolutionise the beauty industry was due to the fact that it was endorsed by one of the world’s biggest pop stars. Attitudes need to be changed, differences need to be welcomed, voices need to be heard and the needs of WoC should be catered to as part of it being the norm and not because of pity.
Char – Memoirs Musings
Has diversity in the beauty industry improved since our last post?
In ways, yes. I’m seeing more brands, influencers and people champion diversity and inclusivity. However it still feels like a daily battle. But I’m glad brands are listening to their customers and willing to evolve. One example that stands out is Make Up Revolution expanding their shade range in their concealers and foundations, and they are not only affordable, they’re available online and in-store.
However, there is still a long way to go. I will look at a brand’s page knowing fully well they have a diverse shade range but the models and influencers they repost are of one spectrum. As someone of colour, I’m not sure how this makes me feel entirely. It makes me wonder who is making the decisions internally. Why aren’t we being included?
The same goes for finding products in store. I was at Heathrow Airport recently picking up a couple of bits before my flight and not wanting to spend a lot, I headed to Boots. Whilst I was not after any complexion products, I couldn’t help but notice how BAD the shade range was. The only Maybelline shades stocked were Caramel and Cocao. People of colour do not come in two shades and not all of us want to head to higher end brands like Mac or Nars whilst travelling because we might already be on a budget.
Which influencers are using their position to make moves in the industry? EG Jackie Aina with Two Faced or Alissa Ashley with NYX.
Jackie Aina and Alissa Ashley are definitely the two that come to mind. I’m sure there are other examples but I probably don’t follow them… Alissa Ashley’s collaboration with NYX saw a foundation range with 50 shades (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop). No fifty shades of beige here. What I loved most about the range was that there were a range of undertones in pale, medium, dark and deeper shades. Having personally tried the foundation, I’m really impressed and I was happy when picking my shade of having at least 4 or 5 to pick from. Best of all, it was only £15.
However, I do need to get something off my chest that’s been bugging me about the whole influencer world, cancel culture and a little hypocrisy. I see brands take bloggers on once-in-a-lifetime trips and experiences week after week and some of these influencers are very quick to ‘cancel’ other brands because of their lack of shade range, yet they accept a trip with another brand that is notorious for not being very inclusive? Something doesn’t add up here.
Whilst a press trip may not particularly be for a complexion product, Can you separate your thoughts on a brand’s inclusivity if they’re offering you a once-in-a-lifetime experience?
Your beliefs need to align with your morals, but again I do see both sides of the spectrum.
When it comes to foundations, what’s one thing you think brands are failing to do?
I can’t just stick to foundations, so I’m going to make it a little wider.
- Constantly invite the same influencers on press trips (it’s getting a little stale now).
- Only respond to expanding their shade ranges when they’re called out.
- Not have POC on their social media teams who understand the colloquialisms to use online.
- Not feature POC on their social media or if they do, it is infrequent.
- Keep releasing seemingly *new* products which are really just the same old palette with a couple of new shades. Instead, there should be a focus on fan faves, or older products.
- Sending huge PR boxes to influencers at the same time. Why not stagger it? Or why not send it to loyal customers? Not only that, does it really make sense to send an influencer the WHOLE collection? Why not a couple of shades or key pieces? OR ask them what they would like to receive?
What’s your dream beauty collaboration and why?
This is a very very hard one BUT I’d love to collaborate with NARS. Its the one brand that I generally love all round. My only gripe is that it’s expensive and every time I need a new concealer, I wince at its £24 price tag. I’d love to curate an affordable line for them. *speaks into existence*
Are there are beauty collaborations you are looking forward to this year?
I’m not gonna lie, I’m trying to save my coins in 2019 and as I’ve mentioned it feels like brands are releasing the SAME products. So I’ll be shopping my stash in 2019 and reliving my old faves!
Thank you for reading guys! Clearly, we had a lot to say about this issue so if you would like to get involved, use the hashtag #EveryHueIsBeautiful on social media.
Do let me know what you think about this most and whether you’d like to see more of this on the blog.
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