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There has been much discussion about how the beauty industry has failed black and multiracial (BMR) people with a minimal range of tailor-made products available. Brands such as Carol’s Daughter, SheaMoisture, Black Opal and Iman Cosmetics have been catering to BMR beauty and personal care requirements since the early 1990s. Next, Nars and Mac were amongst some of the earlier mainstream brands to offer products for darker skin tones.
However, despite such efforts there has traditionally been a dearth of colour cosmetics specifically tailored to the diverse beauty and personal care requirements of BMR people.
As the major cosmetics giants experience a slow-down in some of their more traditional markets, they have started to concentrate efforts elsewhere in an effort to bolster growth prospects. Middle East and Africa’s (MEA) beauty and personal care market is expected to reach USD 34.7 bn by 2020, growing at a rate of 6.4 per cent compared to the global average of 4 per cent, indicating the market’s promise.
This, coupled with an overall shift of change in Africa’s disposable income has helped to bring about diversity in the global cosmetics market. There has been a notable increase in research and development into colour cosmetics and other beauty and personal care products that are specifically designed with the skin tones and hair characteristics of BMR people in mind.
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Of particular note here was the launch of L’Oreal’s Women of Color Lab which works “to scientifically understand the colors that make up the skin and how to translate that into products that are consumer-friendly and to specific formulations that address specific needs around the world,” as described by Head of Lab, Balanda Atis in a recent interview with Sarah Ballard.
L’Oreal’s Women of Color Lab develops colour cosmetics across all of L’Oreal’s brands from the mass market Maybelline to its more upscale brands such as Lancôme as they increase their efforts to develop make-up that caters to the diversity of the global cosmetics market.
According to Business Guide Africa research, L’Oreal enjoyed a 12.1 per cent growth in sales in MEA in 2015 while Procter & Gamble has an ambitious target to quadruple its sales in the African market between 2014 and 2020 and Unilever and Oriflame are also making strides to expand their presence in the African market.
The global cosmetics market has also started to invest in its marketing efforts to BMR women. In 2015 Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o became Lancôme’s first ever BMR beauty ambassador. In 2016 singer Ciara was named Revlon’s new Global Beauty Ambassador, although this was not new for the brand who had been working with Halle Berry since 1996. Procter & Gamble’s colour cosmetics brand Cover Girl has not been shy to appoint BMR women as beauty ambassadors having worked with names such as Rihanna and Queen Latifah before appointing Zendeya Coleman as their new beauty ambassador in 2016.
Kerry Washington works with cosmetic giant Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena colour cosmetics to help expand its foundation colour range while L’Oreal looked to Beyoncé to launch its Infallible lip colour cosmetics range.
In the UK, the first ever Black Beauty and Fashion Awards (BBFA) will take place in November 2017. The event focuses on beauty and personal care products “suitable for black and multiracial people” and aims to “increase representation of Black people in mainstream beauty”. This will further help to encourage increased diversity in the global cosmetics market.
While there is a long way to go before BMR people are fully represented in the mainstream global cosmetics market, new investments in research and development and increased marketing efforts are going some way to break colour barriers.