How beauty brands failed women of color

But the industry is changing – and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty isn’t the only brand laying the foundation for a more inclusive beauty industry.

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Rihanna’s new makeup line Fenty Beauty has been an instant success — and it’s not only popular because Rihanna’s name is attached to it. Fenty Beauty carries a wide range of foundations — 40 to be exact — which has the beauty industry shook. Cosmetics and the beauty industry as a whole, has a long history of creating products that did not match deeper-toned people of color. There are a number of factors that have lead many mainstream beauty companies to having a narrow selection for people of color — and not all of those reasons are rooted in product development. With Fenty Beauty, Rihanna is showing the industry that it’s worth investing money and time into creating nuanced products beyond the ranges of ivory, beige, and tan. is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app.

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108 Comments on “How beauty brands failed women of color”

    1. because of black and white thinking. if there is something, there must be an opposite to that. it’s childish, we should call ourselves beige and brown

    2. Mostly it is just that everyone is a different shade of brown. I mean Japanese or Koreans are not yellow, but that is the color they got assigned simply because providing an accurate identifier is too complicated or time consuming for people to bother with in common conversation.

  1. My skin tone falls within the “mainstream” shade range so I v rarely have issues finding a match… but it’s is SO unacceptable for large cosmetic companies to continuously undercut black women/WOC I am sick of it!!! And it ANGERS me when ppl say that WOC should just shut up and be happy that they have Fenty Beauty, MUFE, Mac, or Lancome to choose from…Like no, why should they be complacent a whopping 4 brands catering to them? They should be able to choose from the 18959857 makeup brands ranging from cheap drugstore to high-end just like white/light skin women can.

    1. kijiji93 large companies generally don’t have the same range as fenty beauty. I’m not black, or Asian, or Mexican or white. I’m from the Middle East to this day I can’t find a perfect match because all shades are either too white for me or too dark.

    2. Not the same problem exactly but I struggle with finding shades that match me with my extremely pale skin it makes me mad when I see foundation with only three shades because of how many people they cut off

    3. It has nothing to do with racism and more of the fact that there won’t be as many people to buy a large variety of darker foundations. Companies that everyone can seamlessly buy from would be nice, it however isn’t realistic given that companies don’t want to waste money. Perhaps these companies should have a small amount less needed variety available to order as a specialty item?

    4. youre going off of stereotypes and assuming that black people cant afford high end makeup. if you havent noticed when fenty came out, there are many darker skin people who are willing to buy foundations from companies that represent us.

    5. Black people make up about 13% of the US population. As a major beauty brand, would you rather focus on 13% or 87% of the market?
      There lies the problem.

  2. I didn’t realize how much of an issue this is until I talked to a friend of mine who has extremely dark skin, she’s one of the darkest people I’ve met, and foundation for her is a nightmare. She has to get very expensive foundation from places like Nordstrom. I’m really glad that it’s getting better!

    1. I’m sorry, is that the way you react, when you see other people’s struggle? That you feel glad it’s not you? Cos I’m pretty sure that wasn’t Alex’s reaction. White women don’t experience these things. If you do not experience somethings firsthand there’s a degree of separation from the problem. Even if you have a friend who opens your eyes to it, you can listen, you can attempt to empathize, but you will never know their struggle fully because you haven’t lived it. However, just because that degree of separation remains, that does not mean your takeaway will be “Aren’t I glad that I’m not experiencing this first-hand”, most likely it’s “I see your struggle and though will never comprehend it fully because I am not the one living it please let me know how I can be of use to your cause”. Peace.

    2. Alex Larson I can’t imagine walking into a drugstore and not noticing that there are five shades that are about my color and no shades darker than Beyonce, at best.

  3. I don’t have an extremely dark skin color I’m a Carmel / brown color and it is still hard to find a color. I can’t believe how hard it would be for woman and men who are even darker

    1. er lo my mom is darker than my dad which made me become a caramel color so please don’t assume. But yes u are right I am Lebanese, and people From Lebanon r not white.

    2. I have the same issue. The only one that has worked was fenty beauty and born this way foundation. All the others, look either too white or too dark. It’s never right. Let’s not forget eye shadows. Holly cow, my best f who is white. She kept telling me how amazing this eye pallet was. Well she tried it on my eyes and she was struggling. Cause it wouldn’t blend well or it was not pigmented at all in my eyes.

    3. I don’t really wear makeup, but I sincerely hope that this gets better I mean everyone deserves to look and feel beautiful if they want to and I just hope that we can make it equal for everyone and anyone

    1. Although I agree that it’s ok to be white, I’m from Denmark and that’s something that I’m proud of … but I don’t understand why some white people will think that this is a personal attack. Even though the issues highlighted in this video are being slowly improved, not talking about the racist past of makeup and the beauty industry is disrespectful to the people who struggled with it in the past and the people who still struggle with it today. It’s not ‘leftist propaganda’, it’s just undeniable historical and present fact

    2. of course it’s okay to be white,that’s why white nationalists use it as a slogan because normally it is an obviously true and not at all offensive thing to say.and yeah another thing these people do is call it “propaganda” or “identity politics” when someone says “we shouldn’t kill black people” lol.also you being proud of your heritage while caring about social justice for other racial groups is honestly amazing,i probably haven’t met someone like you in real life

    3. haha thank you :), there are more of us than you may think… unfortunately the ones with the most toxic ideologies always shout the loudest. It’s all about education. To be honest, a year or so ago I wasn’t near a open minded as I am now, I’m not proud of it, mostly because my family always lived in such a white place and so never bothered to learn about other races. Of course, my family has always been against segregation and racism, but I don’t think they ever really thought about how they would react to POC coming to their country properly before the refugee crisis. Now our minds have changed and it’s all through education teaching people what the world looks like from different perspectives. That’s why videos like these are so important.

  4. Doesnt take 9 minutes to explain this. It’s because fair = beautiful. We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that being fair is the gold standard and that darker skin tones mean you’re not pretty. Darker skin tones have been neglected and ignored, and now Rihanna broke the mould and made it compulsory to offer more shades for darker skin tones.When other brands saw her profit from it, they all decided to follow the “trend” and offer more shades because it was now “cool” to be dark. The world is still a VERY racist place.

    1. That was the case in the 1800s, but not now. Fair skin used to mean you were rich, didn’t need to work on the fields outdoors, so your skin was lighter…. and the wealthy were dumb enough to put lead paint on their skin in some cultures and time periods to look even more pale. But consider how many white people tan their skin to darken it. Now, ‘tan’ is beautiful and pale is ghostly and unhealthy. Is there racism in our culture? Absofuckinglutely, however, I would say with darker skinned people lightening their skin, and lighter skinned people tanning their skin, a mid-light-brown colour is probably deemed the most beautiful now.

    2. in the far East Asia, it is still known that being pale is beautiful and being tan or dark means you are ugly because in their history, slaves worked in the sun which tanned their skin a lot and this trend doesn’t end for them. As a deeply coloured Chinese girl, I think this is not a good trend to keep following because it is now known that no body is a slave anymore and this trend is not looking to stop anytime soon. I have actually been bullied severely because of it. I have an African mum and I carried most of my genes from her so I came out to be dark. I was born in China and this beauty trend went as far as not allowing me to school because I looked like “dirt”. being there for 7 years and not allowed to school just because of that. I had to move from my home and go back to Africa which was also a bad thing for me because I couldn’t speak English or French fluently at that time and I could only speak Chinese so I was classified as “stupid” in school. This whole disaster in my life has been caused only by that one idiotic trend. Beauty shouldn’t be on someone’s skin colour it should be on their personal features and that is why some people believe that everyone is beautiful in their own way

    1. adri so is beauty blender ✋🏻✋🏻✋🏻✋🏻✋🏻✋🏻✋🏻✋🏻✋🏻✋🏻✋🏼✋🏼✋🏼✋🏼✋🏼✋🏼✋🏼✋🏼✋🏼✋🏼✋🏽✋🏾✋🏿

  5. I’m asian with a very yellow dark skin and I can never find my foundation color, because most colors are too light and not yellow enough. It’s such a pain and it makes me so sad looking at those light colors foundation in my country even though I live in equator where most people has dark skin
    The colorism is far too damaging for us

    1. @PrincessKLS not undertones
      So a lot of east asian, central asian and southeast asian skin color basically are different shades of yellow aka dark yellow light yellow etc
      We may have different undertones (can be green, pink, etc)
      In fact my skin color is dark yellow with neutral undertone, so i cant use any makeup with warm undertone nor cool because it clashes with the shade of my skin even though hypothetically, it should be okay because i have neutral undertone
      Thus, i can only wear colors with neutral undertone so it wont clash with the shade of my skin

    1. ravenrose mia he’s saying the truth. All we ever care about is looks when we tell other ppl not to judge others by looks yet WE still care about it… embrace natural you. You would attack him if he said women look better with makeup than with out 💅🏿 period

    1. Moonbyul Kimie im the same color when im sick….im the same color when i cant breathe…(same goes for if i “blush” or get “sun burn”😂)

  6. I remember when I was younger one of my teammates told me that she didn’t know that black people wore make up it was really funny. She said that she thought that black people were just naturally beautiful and it hadn’t ever occurred to her that people of color used make up

    1. As a kid it never occurred to me that anyone used makeup; when I went to stores I only saw the sweet ile and everyone in my class had baby skin! 🙂

    2. Most women especially in Africa don’t wear makeup. They are OK going without makeup except maybe lipstick or eye liners, it mostly has to do with makeup usually looking ashy, maybe Rihanna helped.

    3. @Yolanda Black woman in africa have much clearer skin and a lot dont wear foundation
      People here do because the climate isnt good for our skin so we get more ‘blemishes’ and unclear skin hence the want to wear foundation
      I could be wrong on the want though

  7. Tarte:


    1. that’s cool that Fenty does that. But if you are a small business owner in rural Ohio, should you really be expected to stock and restock every single skin tone equally when you know as a small business owner that the darkest make up skin tones only account for 1% of the total make up you sell? Why should that small business owner stock thousands of dollars of make up every year that she knows for a fact will never be purchased? Whenever a new line of make up is released, should that small business owner be obliged to purchase every skin tone available in equal portions, regardless of the fact that certain skin tones sell 5, 10, 20 times more than other skin tones?

  8. As a dark skinned Indian women, I never found any foundation that matched my skin tone, I use MAC now which I bought from London, we don’t have Fenty in India yet 🙁

    1. Same in Pakistan! For some reason we have porcelain skin shades in South Asia but not actual shades that will match majority of our population

    2. @Maha Nadir exactly my question!! Why wont they make darker shades when india pakistan Bangladesh Afghanistan etc countries literally have like 80% brown people?!!

  9. Of course they were sold out fast, it was the first time black women found foundations that match their actual skin tone!
    I was so happy to see all my black friends finally having decent foundations to buy, they were SO happy and I was so happy to see them smiling that way.
    I hate wearing make up, but I love *doing* make up and my friends love to be my models.

    1. I hope more people catch on and make cheaper versions, fenty isn’t exactly cheap (i love rihanna not attacking her) and cheaper ones for both pale and darker skinned people should be there for everyone

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