Beauty Industry Trending towards Inclusivity

Although entrepreneurship has escalated in virtually every economic sector, the beauty industry has seen a surprising trend towards innovation as of late, particularly in an effort to cater to the demands of the millennial generation. In 2018, brands began launching cruelty-free makeup, products in sustainable packaging, and skincare lines exclusively for men. One prominent trend was the increasing emphasis on inclusivity - the movement towards creating beauty products that expand skin shades to shoppers of all demographics and skin tones, picked up by virtually every large beauty retailer.

The focus on racial diversity first began in late 2017, with the launch of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty product line. Boasting 40 shades of long-wear foundation among 91 products for all complexions, Fenty Beauty was widely celebrated for its universality. Although it wasn’t the first makeup line to offer a wide array of shades, it became an industry changer. It incentivized other brands to diversify their offerings as well, such as Tarte Cosmetics, which expanded its foundation by 10 “tan to deep” shades, and Too Faced from 11 to 35 shades, along with Kylie Cosmetics, Lush, and Marc Jacobs Beauty. Providing makeup for darker skin tones is especially important, according to Flesh creator Linda Wells, as “for too long, the term ‘flesh color’ was used to describe beige skin, which is a disheartening and regrettable misnomer.” The Fenty effect redefines the term ‘flesh’ to include all shades of skin.

Whereas the beauty industry has largely relied on the concepts of wealth, glamour, and privilege to sell their products, Vox indicates that millennials respond positively to “marketing that’s relevant and authentic, and reflects the diversity they see in their communities.” Paralleling the beauty industry, the fashion market has faced a similar trend towards inclusivity; companies that feature plus-sized models or expanded clothing sizes experience an increase in sales. When brands fail to promote inclusivity, they experience considerable backlash - as in the case of lingerie brand Victoria Secret, whose revenue dropped after its chief marketing officer Ed Razek defended the company’s choice to exclude plus-sized models from its annual fashion show. Similarly, Beauty Blender’s Bounce foundation, which came out this year in 32 shades, faced online criticism for its lack of deeper shades, prompting the company to launch 8 more shades that would add to their limited offerings.

The beauty industry has been more welcoming of racial diversity than ever this year, and hopefully this trend is here to stay. As makeup artist Zarielle Washington notes for Vox, “We have millennials and a society that’s more interested in putting their money into brands that resonate with them’s not just about the product; it’s all about people and their personal choices and their lifestyles.” In a world that’s growing increasingly socially conscious, beauty companies are shaping their brand images to be authentic and welcoming, for inclusivity has proven to be incredibly lucrative.