The diversity of women must be reflected by makeup

Kereece McLean

As a woman of color, I have never found a foundation that was a perfect match for my skin. I’ve always been forced to mix foundations to create a matching shade. I know that I’m not alone.

The beauty industry is notorious for embracing white beauty standards and having a range of fair and light shades with only four or five foundation shades for women of color. Makeup brands are using the guise of diversity as a marketing strategy without reflecting this diversity in their products.

But, the makeup industry is slowly inching toward fully embracing diversity, with Rihanna’s Fenty line as an example. Rihanna’s Fenty line offers 40 shades of foundations, ranging from the palest to the darkest of shades to meet as many women’s natural skin pigmentation. A significant portion of Rihanna’s line is made with women of color in mind and the effort should be emulated through other brands. Diversity should not simply be advertised, but implemented.

Women come in infinite shades. Specifically, black women can have a yellow, pink, or warmer undertones, in addition to their natural pigmentation. Finding a foundation that fits perfectly is already difficult, so when only a few or none are available, it can make the process even more difficult. Fenty solves this issue for some by displaying variety in darker shades and actually supports its platform of diversity by embodying the multitude of skin tones that Americans possess.   

Companies like MAC, on the other hand, force diversity without truly mirroring its platform. MAC’s Pro-Longwear foundation offers five shades to women of color out of the total 24 shades. Yet since the release of Fenty, there has been a change in their social media themes, displaying models of color wearing the few shades they offer. MAC just wants the benefits of diversity — without the implementation.

There is a market for tailoring beauty products to women of color. Black women alone spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, which is 80 percent more on beauty products than non-black people. There is a market. Advertising diversity may gather support, but actually implementing diversity will have greater advantages. It’s just a matter of creating a variety of foundation shades that will successfully match all skin tones.

Makeup should not be white by default, nor should there be limited options for women of color. To achieve diversity, companies need to mirror what they promote and tailoring to as many individuals as possible. Diversity should never be the center of greed, but the objective.

McLean is an English junior from Houston.