When rumours surfaced about Rihanna’s plan to launch her very own cosmetic range, I can’t say I was very excited. Don’t get me wrong. I adore Riri’s edgy fashion style, her campaign for global education reform and you’ll definitely find me moving to the dance floor the moment any song from “Pon De Replay” to “Work,” start playing. However, I was sceptical and assumed Fenty Beauty would be just like any other misleading celebrity cosmetic deal that played on the celebrity’s name and label, selling overpriced products with substandard quality.
My expectation of a stereotypical celebrity beauty line was almost instantly shattered when teaser videos flooded Instagram and Twitter, featuring some of the most exciting upcoming models of various ethnicities and skin tones all showcasing what was suddenly anticipated as one of the most diverse cosmetic lines set to launch in 2017. When Fenty Beauty finally dropped in stores, the online beauty community was noticeably shaken up by the whopping 40 different shades of foundation that were available for very pale to very dark skin tones. Too many companies have waited until later on to launch darker shades when releasing new foundation lines, leaving a significant number of consumers who were people of colour out of the loop. Nonetheless, with the darker foundations of Fenty Beauty flying off the shelves immediately after their release, Rihanna provided a very public and concrete example that darker foundation shades are actually in very high demand.
Makeup brands have disregarded the diversity of their consumers for far too long. Products are manufactured with a certain market in mind, resulting in most complexion products failing to cater to women at extreme ends of the shade spectrum. Many using the excuse that their shade range for concealers and foundations are narrowed because deeper hues do not sell well on the market. This limited spectrum of shades has made a wide number of minorities feel that they do not belong in the makeup world. Whether it be ashy foundation shades or unflattering lip colours, the lack of products for those who differ from the industry’s standard of beauty leaves an unwelcoming message. It implies that consumers of colour are not as valued and instead they should fit the Eurocentric standard of makeup to be able to make purchases from the brand.
The introduction of Fenty Beauty into the makeup industry has begun changing this misguided status quo. Rihanna announced that she specifically created the collection for women of all skin tones.
“In every product, I was like, ‘There needs to be something for a dark-skinned girl; there needs to be something for a really pale girl; there needs to be something in-between,’” the singer said at the brand’s NYC launch event.
With the release of her cosmetic line racking up more press and social media coverage than most beauty companies dream of getting in a year, Rihanna has sent a very clear message about inclusivity and makeup. It has put many other brands in the hot seat, with companies rushing to promote the deeper shades of their foundation collections on Instagram. But the damage was done and Fenty Beauty had raised the bar. I believe that many companies will finally be thinking of expanding their foundation shade ranges and, overall, making their lines more inclusive to stay relevant and, more importantly, to stay in the game.
In detail, the Fenty Beauty collection is strongly complexion focused, with the aim for its users to have fresh, glowy, and healthy-looking skin. In addition to the liquid foundation, Rihanna is dropping one soft-focus primer and one shimmery peachy-bronze lip gloss that accommodates and enhances all skin tones. She also launched six wet-to-dry powder highlighter shades. Trophy Wife in particular has stunned beauty enthusiasts with its glittery golden shade that basically looks like freshly grounded gold chunks straight out of Fort Knox, ensuring that you will most definitely shine bright like a diamond (sorry, I had to) with it on your skin. The collection includes 30 Match-Stix, which are basically multi-purpose complexion tubes. 20 of the matte shades are set to aid you with your every highlighting, contouring, correcting, and concealing need while the other 10 shimmery shades are the only pop of colour in the collection. You could get creative when using them be it as a sheer eyeshadow, highlighter, blush or even lipstick. Finally, a translucent powder as well as a few makeup tools finishes off the collection.
“The biggest challenge was making sure that each product covered all skin tones, and it was a challenge I was up for,” she told BAZAAR.com. “I didn’t care how long it took, I was going to make sure that we covered most skin tones. Diversity and inclusivity are important to the brand. I hope that fans, makeup lovers, and makeup artists feel that.”
Makeup should be created for everyone, and Fenty Beauty has proven that no matter how pale or pigmented you are, you can still be a part of the makeup industry. By providing products for all skin tones, Fenty Beauty places both financial and social pressure on other brands. It has highlighted that many consumers with deeper skin tones do exist and they’re definitely willing to spend their money on the right products. That coupled with the fact that the brand is cruelty free and not available in China – where by law all makeup products must be tested on animals – it’s not difficult to see why the launch has sent everyone into such a frenzy. Rihanna said that the main goal when launching her line was that she “wanted everyone to feel included” and I think it’s safe to say that she has succeeded. Fenty Beauty welcomes and includes all, and other companies should take note.