Fenty Beauty resonated with consumers instantly—and thanks to the power of social media, beauty lovers have begun to put pressure on other brands to be more inclusive. In one instance, Tarte was taken to task after the release of its Shape Tape foundation. Fans had high hopes for the rollout, but when the line seemed to cater to fairer skin tones only, several high-profile bloggers voiced their disappointment. And as social does, word quickly spread among customers; including Black women, who will spend an estimated $1.7 billion on beauty this coming year, according to estimates from market research firm Mintel.
Of that total—which encompasses products like color cosmetics, nail color and care products and facial skin care—the biggest share will be spent on color cosmetics, according to Toya Mitchell, multicultural analyst at Mintel, which has just published its 2018 “Black Beauty Consumer US” report.
While mass is the leading spot when it comes to color cosmetics spending overall, the foundation subsector is driven primarily by premium products. “Regardless of income, women of color tend to gravitate to these products. They are willing to spend extra money to buy premium products that they know will work,” Mitchel told Happi.
That’s not to say only premium lines cater to women of color. Mass market leaders like Maybelline, L’Oréal and CoverGirl have had foundation shades for a variety of skin tones, too. Maybelline’s Fit Me! touts 40 shades, there are 30-plus shades of L’Oréal True Match face makeup, and CoverGirl TruBlend Liquid Makeup is available in 21 shades.
Since making the switch over from P&G, CoverGirl has been refreshed, as Coty hired new spokesmodels who better represent America’s shifting demographics. They include chef/TV personality/author Ayesha Curry, actress/writer and YouTube star Issa Rae, and personal trainer Massy Arias.
Speaking about the refresh late last year, CoverGirl senior vice president Ukonwa Ojo said, “In leading the relaunch, we started with the insight that people no longer strive for a singular standard of beauty, but use makeup as a tool for self-expression and personal transformation. CoverGirl has always been inclusive and is known for pushing the boundaries of what it means to be beautiful, which means we have a responsibility to elevate how we connect and communicate with people. This is bigger than a new campaign or a tagline. We hope to spark a provocative dialogue that shifts cultural assumptions about when, where, how and why people wear makeup.”
Stuck in the Middle
Necessity has always been the mother of invention in the cosmetics and personal care industry. Those blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit (and endless drive) have built better mousetraps—or new traps altogether—that address the specific issues of multicultural consumers. Iman, Jane Carter and Lisa Price are just a few of the women who have led the way. In this current indie beauty boom, more are following in their footsteps.
One is Monika Deol. Born in India and raised in Canada, she is the founder of Stellar, a year-old beauty line that is stocked exclusively at Sephora. As a successful broadcaster, she knew a thing or two about how difficult it was the get makeup just right.
“I spent hours upon hours in makeup. Throughout my career, artists were always mixing shades to match me. I finally got my foundation and powder custom blended, which was fabulous, but costly,” Deol said.
Years later, not much had changed.
“Flash forward, and I’m makeup shopping with my daughters for their graduations. I was surprised that 15 years later, there weren’t more options available for people with medium skin tones. Medium skin tones are a demographic that is emerging culturally and financially. We deserve quality and we deserve choices.”
Deol mapped out every shade of foundation available at Sephora on a Pantone skin tone chart. “I saw that there were a ton of options for fairer skin tones, and a surprising number of choices in the deeper range. In the middle, which is two thirds of the world’s population, and the fastest-growing demographic in North America, the choices were limited.”
Then she removed brands that retailed for more than $50 and the gap grew wider.
“That’s when my life-long obsession with makeup became a mission. I thought to myself, ‘it’s time for a clean line of high performance, accessibly-priced makeup that delivers to all skin tones, and actually over-delivers to medium skin tones.’ And so, Stellar was born.”
Deol described her emphasis on medium skin tones as the “easy” part of the development process.
“I’ve been looking at them all my life. I get the market because I’ve lived the market. I am the market. I know all about hyper pigmentation, industrial strength dark circles and literally different colors in different parts of our faces! I know that many people in the medium range want their complexions to look brighter and glowy, because we tend to get sallow.”
Deciphering undertones, she added, is essential.
“Within medium skin tones there is a vast range of undertones, not just yellow and olive, but pink, peach and red. Unifying our undertone is the key to finding the perfect shade,” she explained, noting that Stellar’s Limitless Foundations address the most common shades, light to deep, and offer various undertones within each shade.
“They’re based on real people and real life skin tones.”
Deol is also expanding Stellar’s Limitless Concealer line from its original six shades.
“We kept hearing from our customers on social that they needed more lighter and more deeper colors, so we’re doing a shade extension with two lighter shades and two deeper shades launching this spring.”
The Skin You’re In
Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, founder of fast-growing brand Specific Beauty, is also addressing unmet skin care needs of a growing populous. By 2050, statistics suggest, the majority of the US population will consist of dark complexions. Every Specific Beauty product contains the brand’s signature Melatone Therapy, a synergistic blend of botanical brighteners, gentle exfoliators and skin-calming agents to help reverse the appearance of dark marks, brighten and even skin tone, calm skin, and help protect it from future discoloration. When used as directed, 91% of women reported seeing a reduction in discoloration after just four weeks of continuous use, revealing a noticeably brighter and smoother complexion.
As a certified medical aesthetician and laser technician, Rachel Roff knows a thing or two about skin’s needs, too. She is owner and founder of Urban Skin Solutions med spa, and more recently, developer of Urban Skin Rx, a line of high performance clinical skin care.
“As a brand, we’re all about inclusion and making products that are targeted, but not limited to, melanin-rich skin. We listen to demands and create products that are tailored to specific concerns and skin types,” she told Happi.
Urban Skin Rx’s “Clear Tone Advanced Technology” is a blend of six ingredients that work synergistically to fight inflammation and hyperpigmentation that can lead to an uneven skin tone. The proprietary blend is found in many Urban Skin Rx products.
Roff considers Urban Skin Rx’s Cleansing bars as the hero product and the perfect entry point for those new to the brand.
“They are a ‘treatment bar in a jar’ that also work as a daily cleanser, mask and exfoliator,” she said. The Even Tone Cleansing Bar is a complexion perfecting cleansing treatment that improves the appearance of uneven skin tones and dark marks with a formulation that includes kojic acid, azelaic acid, niacinamide and Urban Skin Rx’s Clear Tone Advanced Technology. The Clear Skin Cleansing Bar is a gentle, yet effective formula that helps soften skin while deep cleansing the pores and gently exfoliating to prevent blemishes. The Anti-Aging Cleansing Bar helps reduce the signs of aging skin by smoothing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and exfoliates to prevent a dull complexion.
This year, Roff added Urban Skin Rx HydraNutrient Radiance Restore Oil, which is billed as an age-defying, multitasking, luxury face oil that nourishes skin with a potent dose of “radiance restoring” vitamins. More recently, Urban Skin unveiled cleansing bars in a new 2oz package. Perfect for on-the-go, these bars are now stocked in select Target stores and online at Target.com urbanskinrx.com.
Hair It Is
Hair care remains the largest category in the multicultural beauty marketplace where brands compete across a wide spectrum of outlets with products that emphasize natural ingredients.
Taliah Waajid’s newest collection is Green Apple & Aloe Nutrition, which Waajid says was designed specifically to give “busy naturlistas, texlaxed or relaxed hair wearers their strongest, healthiest hair in an easy three-step regimen.”
The collection includes shampoo, leave-in conditioner and curl definer formulated with apple, aloe, silk protein and coconut oil. Green apple’s hair root and strand-strengthening power improves hair texture and supports new healthy skin cells on the scalp; aloe conditions, prevents itchiness, and rejuvenates both hair and scalp; and silk protein protects strands and prevents scalp and hair dehydration while coconut oil stimulates hair growth and prevents breakage, according to the brand.
Also new from Taliah Waajid is the Protective Styles collection, which offers nutrient-rich hair care solutions for any way the hair is worn, even when it is being worn in protective styles such as wigs, braids, weaves and updos.
“Braided and twisted styles are really on trend right now—especially those that feature combination styling such as cornrowed updos with cascading twist outs,” Waajid told Happi.
Dealing with damage is big business for hair care formulators who focus on textured hair.
Venerable category leader Dark and Lovely is fighting seven common damage factors—moisture loss, breakage, heat, color, environment, transitioning and relaxing—with its new Damage Slayer line. The range is described as a weekly-use, salon-grade reparative system designed to fight damage and strengthen weak bonds in relaxed, transitioning and natural hair.
The brand boasts that within three to six uses, users can achieve up to 96% less breakage with the system. Damage Slayer is designed to deeply saturate strands to do more than provide a surface level fix; it penetrates to the core with Texture Bond technology that reinforces “weak” bonds and improves the quality of hair, according to the brand, which is part of L’Oréal-owned SoftSheen-Carson. The formulas also work on the outer fiber to help lock in moisture and strength, creating a protective barrier that helps prevent future damage.
Damage Slayer includes a treatment, shampoo and conditioner as well as the Protector Leave-In Spray (a lightweight-conditioning milk infused with lotus flower) and The Hydrator Steam Conditioning Mask, which is infused with castor oil.
Online or In Line?
Once segmented in small shops and beauty supply stores, the growing roster of products that address the needs of multicultural consumers can be found throughout the retail landscape from mom-and-pop stores to premium outlets. The LVMH-owned Sephora, which enjoyed a burst of activity thanks to the large-scale 1600 store debut of Fenty Beauty, recently named KJ Miller, co-CEO of Mented Cosmetics, to its 2018 Accelerate Cohort. Mented, which is short for pigmented, is an upscale beauty brand for women of color started by two Harvard Business School classmates who lamented over a glass of wine how difficult it was to find the perfect nude lipstick.
Mitchell of Mintel contends brick-and-mortar will remain a critical hub for multicultural beauty, especially in areas like facial makeup, where consumers want first-hand experience testing products to insure attributes like color match, coverage and feel.
In addition to brick-and-mortar, there’s the endless shelf space of the internet, which allows smaller brands to be discovered by consumers who are eager to find products that are just right for them.
The largest online marketplace is taking note. Amazon, which is becoming a much larger player in the beauty space overall, recently added a curated section called Textures & Hues, specifically for black hair care.
And consumers will continue to search for advice online. According to a 2017 Nielsen study, more than 50% of Latinx receive most of their beauty information through social media. In addition, one million Latinx women are making regular recommendations on social media, 11% more than the average internet user, according to Estilo Y Forma, a bilingual beauty education and an online store that speaks to US Latinx professionals and consumers.
“Bloggers are very important in the category,” said Mitchell of Mintel, as there is often extra credibility that comes “when a consumer can connect with someone on YouTube, Instagram or Twitter who looks like them and is an everyday woman.”
But as Fenty Beauty demonstrated, high profile celebrities hold sway. Mitchell said the line’s success can also be traced to the trust Rihanna’s fan base has in her. (One wonders if shoppers will have the same confidence when it comes to Rihanna’s foray into lingerie!)
“Fenty is the perfect storm that has put the entire industry on notice,” said Mitchell. “It will be interesting to see how the market evolves.”