Anjum Nahar gets on board with the Fenty Beauty hype and explains why inclusive makeup lines are so important.
It’s been over a week since singer Rihanna launched her eponymous and much-anticipated makeup line Fenty Beauty. Excitement surrounding its release has been amplified by Fenty Beauty’s gorgeous and beautifully diverse advertising campaign, which not only showcases unique and individual models of every skin tone imaginable, but also includes hijab-wearing models such as Halima Aden, further pushing the line’s inclusive message of ‘beauty for all’.
The Fenty Beauty line includes products such as highlighter, primer, and lip gloss, all of which claim to be universal in their ability to suit all skin tones; however, the real star of the line seems to be the Pro Filt’r Foundation, which boasts an incredible forty shades. Within days of the range going on sale, the thirteen darkest shades of the foundation had sold out on the Sephora website (Sephora and Harvey Nichols currently being the only stockists of Fenty Beauty). The overwhelming popularity of the darkest shades has shed light on the beauty industry’s previous disregard for people of colour and their demand for makeup products.
This neglect is unsolicited and nonsensical, considering that black women in America reportedly spend an estimated $7.5 billion on beauty products each year. Instagram and Twitter users have already noticed other big name beauty brands such as Kylie Cosmetics and L’Oreal attempting to increase diversity in their own brands, by widening their use of diverse models and emphasising their own offers of shade ranges following the success of Rihanna’s brand. By creating this brand – to quote online magazine Vice – the singer has ‘shed light on black buying power’. Fenty Beauty is leading by example in the beauty industry, forcing other brands to assess the inclusivity of their own products and advertising campaigns.
The struggle for women of colour to find their foundation shade has been a real issue for decades. Although in recent years drugstore brands such as L’Oreal have attempted to provide a wider shade range in their products, their foundations have often just missed the mark, failing to take into consideration the subtle variety in undertone that makes brown and dark skin glow. Without the consideration of undertone, makeup on People of Colour can look ‘ashy’ and ghostly: not a good look. A popular method of overcoming this problem has been to mix different foundation shades, since with most brands it is a rarity to find a foundation shade that is just right for you.
Fenty Beauty’s forty shades eradicate this problem. Whatever undertone or overtone a makeup-wearer has, with Fenty Beauty, they can be confident that a perfect foundation exists. It’s no wonder that actresses and wonderful women of colour, Gabourey Sidibe and Mindy Kaling, have praised the brand. What’s more, the line gets bonus accessibility points for its reasonable prices – the cheapest product retailing at £8 – and the option for international shipping means that Fenty Beauty products are available to People of Colour across the world. Just when we thought we couldn’t be any more impressed, the sleekly-packaged products, which sport cute and creative names such as ‘Trophy Wife’ and ‘Chilli Mango’, also offer a cruelty-free guarantee, making them a progressive addition to the beauty industry in more ways than one.
As a woman of colour myself, I am extremely excited to get my hands on Fenty Beauty, and could not be happier that in future I will be able to enjoy buying and wearing makeup with confidence that it is a true match to my warm Asian skin tone. Rihanna’s pioneering efforts in the beauty industry are being deservedly celebrated, and if these forty shades are just the first products to be released by Fenty Beauty, who knows what other magic Rihanna has up her sleeve!
Illustration by Isabel Kilborn