A couple of months ago, if anyone had said Rihanna would be the leading proponent in broadening the racial inclusivity of the makeup world they would have gotten some strange looks.
Yet, hardcore makeup fans have sat and watched as Rihanna’s “Fenty Beauty” earns headline after headline since launching Sept. 8, with more additions planned to launch in the future. “Fenty Beauty” launched with 40 different shades, offering more variety and specificities than nearly any makeup product before.
However, starting a profitable makeup line does not seem to be about the success or fame for Rihanna, likely because these are things she already has.
“Makeup is there for you to play,” Rihanna said on the about page of the “Fenty Beauty” website. “It’s there for you to have fun with. It should never feel like pressure, and it should never feel like a uniform.”
The headlines coming in droves aren’t just about the success or genuine nature of “Fenty Beauty,” as most makeup fans have already started picking up on the variety it offers on their own.
“How Rihanna's Fenty Beauty Is Ushering in a New Era of Inclusivity in the Beauty Industry,” a wmagazine.com headline reads.
“Fenty Beauty Reviews Show It's the Inclusive Brand Everyone Has Been Waiting For,” according to a blog post on bravotv.com.
Circulating and driving home the message the pop-star turned makeup specialist hopes to get across is one word: inclusive.
It’s not about issuing a new fan base to the makeup market, it’s about issuing a new understanding of what makeup can be for beauty and equality.
N’ninah E. Freelon, a junior human services major, says she is obsessed with “Fenty Beauty” and has dealt with with lack of color diversity in the makeup world. She says Rihanna’s new line is the step makeup has needed for years.
“In America, the epitome of beauty is a white woman,” Freelon said. “With most makeup brands, they do not showcase black beauty and black women as ‘beautiful.’ Before Rihanna’s line, when walking into Sephora, there were more products for a white woman than products for a black woman.”
A lot of the problems makeup brands have been facing in regard to inclusivity is a lack of options for those with lighter skin tones and darker skin tones. For example, albino makeup users have notoriously dealt with the impossible task of finding colors and brands that even come close to matching their skin tone.
Many of these same users who had problems, have now found the beauty in “Fenty Beauty” because of its inclusive nature.
Creating “Fenty Beauty” wasn’t as simple as just picking a large color pallet, it was an involved and taxing project.
Rihanna personally worked with women from different parts of the globe who had difficulty finding the right color to match their skin. Research and investigating eventually turned into the next step for the makeup world.
Raegan Wagner, founder of “Makeup by Raegan” and Northwest alumna, started her own makeup business in January of 2017 and is infatuated by the possibilities the face modifying product can present.
“I think makeup is important for society, especially for women and men,” Wagner said. “I think it is a way for people to express themselves.”
Wagner was adamant to explain how makeup is more than just a beauty product, but she says it is a way to express oneself through art and emotion.
“Think about if you had multiple artists working on one model and that model requested the same look from each artist,” Wagner said. “That look would be completely different each time, because each artist would express themselves differently. That is what I love about makeup.”
YouTube has been the home of personalities and content creators who are wanting to reach a wide audience. This fact as made it extremely easy for makeup tutorials to be a big hit in recent years with personalities such as Jeffree Star, Jacqueline Hill and Shay Mitchell all growing their own online communities.
Star reviews makeup and vlogs on YouTube and recently reviewed Fenty Beauty. One of the main standout points he made in the video fell in line with what a lot of the community has been saying.
“I think something really important to note is that her brand is very inclusive and she spent a lot of time working on this,” Star said. “There are 40 shades with even more coming. I think that is so epic because a lot of the time brands will only release like 10 shades. So the fact that she spent a lot of time perfecting the formulas and creating a really cool shade range I think is really awesome.”
Makeup has been on an upward trend toward racial, age and gender inclusivity since around 2009, but it wasn’t until the worldwide launch of “Fenty Beauty” where recognition became widespread.
Wagner agrees the makeup community has been crying out for change for a while. One of her favorite YouTubers, Jackie Aina, is one of these community members with a voice big enough to make change.
“One of my favorite YouTube artists is a woman of color and she used her voice and platform to express that there weren't enough shades to match her skin,” Wagner said. “A prestigious brand, Too Faced, heard her loud and clear, and now she is their beauty ambassador for their foundations.”
Wagner continued speaking on the importance of speaking up, in every scenario. The fight for equality and inclusivity does not end with makeup, it is only one of the many battles.
“Because she spoke out, and that brand was willing to listen, every person, of every race can enjoy that product,” Wagner said. “These brands are using diversity to their advantage because the quality of products is evolving more and more.”
In the grand scheme of things, it is easy to forget how big a role makeup plays in society. Most everyone is wearing some sort of makeup and some make an entire career out of it.
So imagining a world where a large group of people are shut out by makeup brands is counterintuitive, and goes against the fundamentals of what the product is all about.
“Fenty Beauty” is getting the idea of inclusivity back to the forefront of discussion, because for Rihanna, makeup is about making skin look like skin for every man and woman.