January 14, 2018

Musings: Diversi-tea in the Beauty Industry (Part One)

Yes, this topic is an ongoing battle, but myself and Kelle from It’s Kelle’s Space, are here to spill our tea on our thoughts on diversity in the beauty industry. Is it lacking? Of course. Is it getting better? Slightly. All you can do is keep the conversation going and continue to raise the issue where possible, like this blog… We found that we are both very passionate about addressing the lack of diversity within the beauty industry. In this post, I will be answering a few questions about diversity in the beauty industry. Thankfully there are channels like Brown Beauty Talk, Melariche and The Other Box that keep the conversation going. 


K: Hello, my name is Kelle and my blog is called It’s Kelle’s Space. The blog focuses on all things related to beauty, wellbeing and lifestyle and was launched at the end of 2017. In addition to reviewing the latest beauty products, I also write articles and share words of wisdom to ensure all my readers live their best lives. 

Why not grab a cup of tea…

…Introduce yourself, your blog, a little bit about you and your favourite foundation, lipstick and highlighter.
Kelle’s Beauty Faves 

My favourite foundation is the Black Up CC Cream Multi Action (Complexion Correcting Foundation). I love this foundation because it was created to target specific skin problems that WoC will have such as oily skin and hyper pigmentation. The coverage is excellent (medium to full) and its long-lasting.

My favourite lipstick has to be the NYX Professional Makeup Matte Lipstick  in the shade Maison. This lipstick has been one of my makeup essentials for over a year now. I love that it glides on so effortlessly and dries to a matte finish. As I have oily skin, I stay away from lipsticks that aren’t matte.

I was asked to share what my favourite highlighter is but I don’t use a highlighter (too much shimmer for my liking), so I’ll tell you what my favourite mascara is. It’s the NYX Super Luscious Volume and Length Mascara. I love how this mascara makes my lashes look fuller. I’m always being asked if I’m wearing false lashes whenever I have it on.

Char’s Beauty Faves 

Hello, I’m Char, obviously this is my blog, unless you’re reading this on Kelle’s, then hey hey hey! My blog is all compiling my memoirs and musings through travel, beauty and my mess of a lifestyle.

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? 

K: Pre Fenty Beauty, these are the beauty brands for WoC that I was aware of: Black Spa, Doris Michaels, Iran and Fashion Fair.

In addition to the above, I was also aware of brands such as MAC Cosmetics, NARS and Sleek Make Up. Of all brands mentioned, my preference is IMAN Cosmetics. I love how the brand caters to WoC (women of colour) of many races, cultures and ethnicities.

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

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

K: 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…

giphy-downsized (28)

C: Blatant ignorance to be honest.

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 a culturally diverse place like London where I can easily get my shade if I need to, but for those with deeper skin tones, it’s not easy. The more sparsely populated an area is, the less likely they are to have beauty products for WOC.

K: To finalise, 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, beauty brands can’t afford to adopt such ways of thinking. Product innovation for ethnic skin is a large issue and it needs to improve.

Let’s take a pictorial look at how the product offering for WoC has changed through the years…

K: Donna Summer (with Michael Jackson in the early-mid 80’s)… We all know that the late Queen of Disco was a beautiful black woman yet whoever did her makeup for this occasion just splashed some white/cream powder on her face and used a blusher that is the same shade of her lipstick…what a beauty disaster!

K: Now, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty has been praised for inclusivity. There are 40 different shades of the brand’s Pro Filtr Foundation. Time Magazine even crowned Fenty Beauty as the invention of the year . Although the launch of Fenty Beauty provides WoC with some hope, there is still a lot of work to be done in the fight for diversity.

Sourced from GIPHY.

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

K: 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 them 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)

C: Researching their customer base and finding out exactly what they 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? 

K: Secondly, brands need to know who their customer is and cater to their needs. Products that work for and compliment darker skin shades are non-existent. In 2017, it was refreshing to see brands such as Laura Mercier, MAC and Maybelline addressing this issue by extending their foundation shades. It’s not enough to just introduce the product to the world. Accessibility is another issue and some WoC travel far and wide searching for products and brands that cater to them.

K: Lastly, I also feel that brand representatives need to do know their product. There was a time where the majority of WoC used to get their foundation from MAC because we thought that they were the only brand that actually catered to us. I’m sure most of us have throwback pics where our foundation is looking far too orange or red compared to our actual skintone (Ah, memories). Consultants should be able to offer (correct) guidance in order to help customers come to a decision. It sounds simple, but this isn’t happening in this day and age.

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

K: Absolutely, but I think that diversity is needed. Unfortunately, a lot of brands play it safe and recruit mixed race or fair-skinned influencers for their campaigns because they may feel that the product/service wouldn’t appeal to WoC (which is of course, ridiculous). 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). This is something that brands need to address in the near future. To the brands: Let WoC do more!

C: 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 didn’t event 

I mean look:

C: If you had an influencer like me (I’m not bigging myself up here in the slightest) consulting you, you’d 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: 



What is 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 and fix up. 


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

K: 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 lipstick offerings need to modified. Personally, I play it safe because I’ve yet to find a brand that caters to WoC completely. This can also depend on preference I guess.

C: 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, it’s 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. 

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

K: The brands that I think are getting it right are IMAN Cosmetics and NARS. Black Up is a contender but I think that they need to work on their foundation offering. I don’t think the brand have a deep understanding of the variation of undertones just yet but what I like about Black Up and the reason that I’ve mentioned them is, their products always do what they say they will (whether it’s mattifying the skin or being long-lasting. Their CC cream foundation works well on my skintone while the other foundations they have left my skin looking red.

C: 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. 

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

K: 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 drastic changes but as WoC we need to always ensure we are seeking out brands that cater to us. There’s no point in buying into a product/service that you know wasn’t created with you in mind. We need to work together to enable us to move forward. With cooperative effort and endless expression, the beauty industry can really be an open place for us all.

C: 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. 

We hope you’ve all enjoyed reading this post. 

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

And don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe, retweet, share, put us on billboards etc. 

Kel & Char xo 

This post is a collab between myself and Kelle from It’s Kelle’s Space. 

Please note, all gifs have been sourced from GIPHY, they do not belong to me. 

10 responses to “Musings: Diversi-tea in the Beauty Industry (Part One)”

  1. I’m so glad that we got the opportunity to collaborate on this post because diversity within the beauty industry is something we care very much about. Unfortunately, the antics of Tarte and YSL are shocking (but not surprising).
    On the other hand,hopefully in the remaining 11 months and in years to come, brands will start waking up and appreciating melanin in all its beautiful forms! Xx

  2. […] Orgasm is the perfect rose gold blush and honestly looks amazing on ALL skin tones. You can read my post here about spilling the tea on diversity in beauty […]

  3. kikidavino says:

    Love the points you brought up. I was shocked to see Tarte’s color range of their new foundation, very disappointing

  4. […] She is a straight up New Yorker (My favourite place in the world), isn’t afraid to rock some Fashion Nova and frankly she’s my new favourite […]

  5. […] colours are WOC friendly (I wrote a post on diversity in beauty which is a must read if I do say […]

  6. […] I get to attend an event that combine all three of my blog interests – travel, lifestyle and beauty as most tend to focus on one or the […]

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  8. […] and its aim is to SELL. What needs to be emphasised is diversity and inclusivity. You might wanna read this post where I discuss this in […]

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About Me

I love concerts, 6am flights, 90s R&B, cancelled plans and wine. My blog Memoirs and Musings is all about documenting my travels infusing my personal experiences (memoirs) and a few musings along the way.