Black History Month is upon us and while it is a beautiful time to champion black people everywhere, it is also a time that reminds us of where society falls flat. During the BLM movement last year there was a call of action to major companies and brands to commit themselves to diversity and inclusion. Multiple beauty companies came forward promising to dedicate themselves to these calls to action, but with time came crickets. Fast forward to the present and black/brown influencers are coming forward detailing that brands are asking them to be a feature without compensating them at their rates or having asked them prior to it being Black History Month. These moves making these influencers feel tokenized. This is very common in the beauty industry specifically, to alienate black and brown people until it benefits them.
The beauty industry has always been incredibly Eurocentric and ostracizing to people of color. In 1994 supermodel Iman Abdulmajid created her own cosmetic company, Iman Cosmetics, due to her experience of having to be asked to provide her own makeup during runway shows. Beauty influencer Jackie Aina, called out brands for their lack of inclusivity, which led to brands feeling attacked and ending partnerships with her. Multiple actresses came forward this year admitting to having to do their own hair on set when the set hair stylists were unaware of what to due with black women’s hair.
While the Eurocentric beliefs of beauty are still heavily ingrained in us there have been lots of shifts. Korean beauty and skincare have always been a huge thing in Korea, and with time it has transverse onto this side of the world. Our very own Bchee went to Korea a few years ago and brought me back face masks that I have been rationing for special occasions. The hype around Korean skincare is big and beautiful and necessary. With innovative ways of using certain ingredients to combat aging, breakout, flare ups, and overall upkeeping glass-like skin their beauty industry is booming. Common ingredients used in Korean beauty such as snail mucin, pearl, green tea, and propolis from bees have been commandeered by western beauty companies to be used, manipulated and promoted as their own invention without credit to the 13-billion-dollar industry. While interpretation is flattered, it is only flattering when acknowledgment of the proper sources and credit to the proper groups exist.
In 2017, Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty and with the launch, she announced a quantity of forty different shades of foundations. This launch blew waves in the beauty industry. Companies scrambled to create wider and more inclusive ranges to compete with Fenty Beauty (which sold out all their ranges in multiple stores when they launched). The disheartening thing about the beauty industry is that most North American companies are run by white men who hire a wide variety of white people to work in an industry that all people of all backgrounds would like to partake in. POC’s exist and POC’s are a huge profit margin companies are neglecting.
During this pandemic I have spent many nights deep-diving into skincare social media (Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram) and let me tell you, it’s a goldmine. Industries have lacked educating the public on what exactly their products do and more importantly if their products truly work for ALL skin tones. Social media has taken hold of educating the public and more POC’s are present making videos to break down skin issues, products that work and don’t work for different skin tones, and creating a community of inclusion. It took a younger generation to take over an industry , flip its mode of delivery and reintroduce it in an approachable way.
It took me 27 years to understand my skin. It took me 27 years to see young people explain the science of skincare in layman’s terms. And pray it does not take 27 more years to see real change in a discriminatory industry.