Colorism in the Beauty Industry

When thinking of Black History Month, it is also important to consider the present.

America has progressed significantly, yet racial inequality remains present in many industries. Specifically, the beauty industry continues to lack proper shade ranges that reflect the true variety of skin tones.

Photo courtesy of Temptalia

At first glance, it is easy to assume a brand has an adequate shade range. Fair, light, medium, dark, deep. What else? Well, not every person will fit in one of five shades,  considering factors such as undertones.

In recent years, several brands have stepped up to the plate to be more inclusive of people of color. For example, Too Faced now has 35 shades of their Born This Way Foundation, Maybelline Fit Me Foundation has 40, Colourpop Cosmetics has 42, and Fenty Beauty has 50. Some of these shade ranges reflect an uneven balance of light and dark, meaning a majority of these shades might be light to medium, with a few dark shades, and even fewer deeper shades.

This is where the beauty industry goes past surface-level racism and meets colorism. Representation of all shades is so crucial; when deeper shades are not reflected in the industry, many feel excluded, forgotten, and diminished. The beauty industry claims inclusivity when sadly, a preference is commonly shown towards light-skinned clients. These brands must grow because inclusivity means accurately reflecting the world in which we live.

Photo courtesy of Glossier

Photo courtesy of Glossier

Many mainstream beauty brands are praised for any expansion in shade range, such as the recent relaunch of Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint. Originally, the sheer tint only offered five shades but has recently expanded to twelve. When compared to the previously mentioned brands, twelve shades appears as extremely lacking. The small shade range may be attributed to sheerness, but many still say it is not enough.

On the other hand, some beauty bloggers, such as @Sofieuh, have praised Glossier for switching up the shade titles, with the darkest shades being labeled as G1, rather than at the end of the spectrum. In small strides, colorism in the beauty industry may diminish dramatically.

While some beauty brands continue to expand their shade ranges, it is vital to recognize any growth. Brands should not be praised for meeting the bare minimum, but by showing creators their growth is valued, more beauty businesses will continue this shift. For too long, black beauty influencers have been pushed to the side. Even with growth in shade ranges, a glance at many brands’ accounts will show a lack of people of color, reducing their deserving artistry. Making voices heard will continue to encourage a push in inclusivity, and more importantly, equality.

Photo courtesy of @Jackieaina via TwitterPhoto courtesy of RevelistPhoto courtest of @Cinnamonryan via Instagram

Photo courtesy of Asia Jackson

For inspiration, some black beauty bloggers you should follow include Jackie Aina, who broke the internet with her “I Don’t See Color” video, Nyma Tang, known for her series “The Darkest Shade,” Ryan Norville (@cinnamonryan) for beautiful, vintage, beauty and fashion, Asia Jackson for fashion and beauty, and many more.

This month, this year, focus on all of the beauty we see in the real world and reflect that in the realm of beauty.