Over the last few years, the beauty industry has begun to embrace inclusivity while breaking stereotypes of gender, identity and colour more than it had done in the past.
While there have been brands like MAC Cosmetics who have represented various genders and ethnicities in the ’80s, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty brought a sea change in the industry with its extensive range of foundations catering to varied skin tones in 2017.
Following suit, several beauty brands introduced paler as well as darker shades in their product lines suitable for all skin colours.
Here are some of the most inclusive beauty brands that have positioned themselves globally.
In 2017, Fenty Beauty made headlines as the disruptor of the traditional beauty industry with an impressive debut of 40 foundation shades that catered to a wide range of light to dark skin tones. It was named in Time Magazine’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017 list alongside iPhone X and Tesla.
Robyn ‘Rihanna’ Fenty, who is the founder of the brand, now co-owns it with French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH. According to her, the idea behind launching the makeup line was “that people everywhere would be included.”
Later, around 10 more shades were added to the collection, including a variant to accommodate the condition of albinism.
This innovation of including harder-to-find shades for women of colour took over the world by storm. It was popularly termed as the ‘Fenty Effect’ with every other brand following the multiple-shade concept to be the industry standard.
One of the most sought-after makeup brands, Lancôme came into existence in 1935 in France and is now part of the L’Oréal Luxury Products division.
Lancôme launched its inclusive “My Shade, My Power” campaign to celebrate diversity in 2017 that featured 40 women from different parts of the United Kingdom. These women with various skin tones belonged to different ages and ethnicities.
Later, the shade range of Teint Idole Ultra HD foundation was expanded to 50 with variations in warm, cool and neutral undertones. Additionally, Lancôme’s Le Teint Particulier range enables customers to create the perfect foundation for their skin tone by customising the shade, hydration levels and the desired coverage.
The French luxury cosmetic brand has been inclusive in the choice of brand ambassadors as well — with Zendaya as their youngest and Lupita Nyong’o as their first black female brand ambassadors.
MAC Cosmetics has long been known as one of the most inclusive makeup brands out there. Launched in 1984 in Toronto, Canada, by Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo, the brand started in their kitchen. Soon, the duo began selling their products to fellow makeup artists and models.
With a vision of “All Ages, All Races, All Genders”, MAC relies heavily on diversity as well as inclusivity.
The cosmetic brand has been representing LGBTQ+, blacks and browns in their campaigns since the year of its inception. They have over 63 shades in their best-selling Studio Fix Fluid foundation line that was unveiled in 1984.
Their website offers an easy-to-use Foundation Shade Finder which lets you choose from over 100 shades in different hues and undertones.
Bobbi Brown Cosmetics
The eponymous makeup brand owned by celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown has been challenging the status quo to be an all-inclusive beauty brand since 1991. In 1992, they came up with 10 foundation sticks for different skin tones.
Bobbi Brown further emphasised inclusion in 2016 to mark their 25th anniversary with the launch of “Be Who You Are” to honour 40 women of different races, backgrounds and skin tones.
Their best-selling foundation comes in 42 shades. You can choose the perfect shade of foundation matching your skin tone using the guide which includes different formulas, shades, skin types, coverage and undertones.
Haus Laboratories is a vegan and cruelty-free beauty brand owned by American singer-songwriter-actress Lady Gaga which bolsters self-acceptance, authenticity and inclusivity. As per a 2019 press statement, Gaga said, “We really want people to feel free and to love themselves, no matter how you identify.”
“This is a party where everyone is invited. Everyone is invited to break all the rules!” she added.
The brand’s first campaign focused on breaking societal stereotypes and included LGBTQ+, non-binary and black models. Its Born This Way Foundation donates $1 for every purchase to support the mental health of young people.
With the launch of the ‘nude is not beige’ campaign in 2017, Cover FX gave a push to diversity and inclusivity in the beauty industry. The New York-based clean, vegan and cruelty-free beauty brand lets you customise products as per your preferences, skin tone, skin type and complexion.
The Power Play foundation comes in 40 shades and four undertones to match a range of skin shades across the spectrum. Their digital shade matcher also helps you find the best match for your skin.
Maybelline is a famed drugstore makeup brand that offers inclusivity through its best-seller Fit Me! Matte + Poreless foundation with a total of 40 extensive shades to flatter various complexions at an affordable price.
The New York-based brand has been at the forefront of the campaign on diversity and inclusivity with 1000+ lip colours and 18 shades of under-eye concealer. Maybelline also collaborated with Shayla Mitchell and Manny Gutierrez as part of its diverse and outspoken branding that speaks for all identities and ethnicities.
With a vision to be the most equitable, diverse and inclusive makeup brand in the world, Estée Lauder launched the Equity and Engagement Center of Excellence (COE) in March 2021. The brand is committed to reaching its diverse consumers across 150 countries.
One of the brand’s key offerings — Double Wear Makeup — has a whopping 55 shades across different undertones with a guaranteed perfect match for every complexion — light, medium and deep.
According to the Estée Lauder Companies President and CEO, Fabrizio Freda, “We are deeply committed to doing, even more, to facilitate a culture of equity, inclusion and belonging within our company and our communities.”
The brand recently started the ‘Beauty in Me’ campaign to commemorate Black History Month — a platform for black women to share their perspectives on beauty.
Make Up For Ever
The French beauty brand has been all-inclusive long before the ‘Fenty Effect’ began. Soon after Fenty Beauty’s launch of 40 foundation shades, Make Up For Ever pointed out in an Instagram post that they have been an inclusive beauty brand since 2015 when they launched their Ultra HD foundation in 40 shades.
Founded by Dany Sanz in 1984, the brand’s foundation is rooted in diversity and individuality. Its bestsellers Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation and Ultra HD Concealer have 50 and 26 impressive shades, respectively, to offer a genuine match for a range of tones and complexions.
One of their recent campaigns — ‘Blend In. Stand Out’ — celebrates inclusivity and diversity with six beauty influencers with different ethnicities and identities from around the globe. They have been garnering the spotlight by debunking stereotypes and promoting LGBTQ+ and genderless beauty through their campaigns.
Co-founded by Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson, Too Faced’s philosophy is rooted in individuality to celebrate and inspire beauty for everyone. Their renowned product, Born This Way foundation, added 11 more shades to reach a total of 35 shades in 2018.
The beauty brand capitalised on the ‘Fenty Effect’ under their ‘Born This Way’ campaign in collaboration with beauty blogger Jackie Aina who helped create a new line of shades in dark hues. Later, they expanded into a diverse line of Born This Way concealers as well.
In the words of Jerrod Blandino, the caption of his Instagram post from 2018 read, “There is no beginning and there is no end. It’s more than makeup, it’s a movement.”
The brand mentions on their website: “At Morphe, there are no rules. Stereotypes? Not interested. We’re real all the way. Dare to create. Push those boundaries. Make an impact.”
Morphe has collaborated with beauty moguls and makeup artists to inspire creativity regardless of societal norms since its inception in 2008. Also known as Morphe Brushes, the inclusive beauty brand actively engages with its audience on social media and recognises its diverse consumers.
In 2019, it partnered with The Trevor Project and donated $436,000 to support the young LGBTQ community. Morphe also donated $459,000 through their Pride Free to Be Collection to support GLSEN, an education organisation working to create a safe space for schooling K-12 students, in 2020.
In 2021, Morphe launched a limited-edition Continuous Setting Mist in collaboration with Make It Black, the programme striving to shift society’s perspectives on the black community around the globe. The brand donated $62,480, which was 100 percent of their net proceeds of all Make It Black products.
It recently launched a sub-brand Morphe 2 to cater primarily to Gen-Z consumers.
This story first appeared in LifestyleAsia Kuala Lumpur.