#BlackLivesMatter and the Beauty Industry

With protestors around the world showing their support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement and using their voices to speak up about institutionalised racism and police brutality, consumers have urged brands to step up and do better.

The beauty industry is no stranger to accusations regarding lack of diversity and inclusion. Over the last few years, many beauty brands have expanded their product ranges to cater to all skin tones and hair types, however, there is still a lot of work to be done. Over the last week, anonymous beauty collective @esteelaundry has revealed statements made by owners of brands which lack diversity in their ranges; many claimed that the reason behind lack of inclusion is the ‘lack of black consumers’. However, a recent US panel studying beauty purchases reveals that black consumers spend 80 percent more on cosmetics and twice as much on skincare products compared to non-black consumers. A further study exploring the hair care market showed that black women spend nine times more money on hair products as opposed to their white counterparts. The hair industry net worth, however, was recently estimated by Mintel at $87.9 billion, with only approximately $3 billion being the value represented by products for black hair types.

When it comes to representation in both advertorial campaigns and Instagram feeds, many brands have been called out for failing to include black models and content creators. Consumers have noticed that many companies resorted to hiring black-looking representatives for their campaigns and imagery, with some ex-brand employees even revealing that they have been asked to Photoshop models to make them look ‘lighter’. A recent study released by a marketing agency depicted that 83 perfect of black women access beauty content through Instagram, however, many influencers have spoken up about the lack of diversity they witnessed both within the names on the contracts they sign, as well as at brand press events.

Brands are also being called on releasing a statement revealing the number of black employees within their organisations at corporate and executive level, following the recent #PullUpForChange campaign. This not only encourages organisations to hold themselves accountable for turning a blind eye to racism and misrepresentation, but more diverse teams also provide different perspectives that resonate with all consumers. Allowing black people to join the conversation. The campaign encourages consumers to refrain from spending money with the brands that are refusing to reveal their statements and challenge their internal structure. Whilst many brands have made donations and showed their support for the #BlackLivesMatter move, the ones that have revealed their statements displayed hardly any black employees in senior roles.

Black models working in the industry have also shared their stories about make-up artists, hair stylists and photographer that have displayed a lack of knowledge when it came performing services on their skin colour and hair type. From having to bring their own products to shoots and even having to re-do their make-up after unexperienced make-up artists wrongly colour-matched their foundation, many models have spoken about uncomfortable situations throughout their careers.

The beauty industry undoubtedly needs to change for the better and become more inclusive. Beyond promises, donations and Instagram posts, re-thinking internal structures and representing its diverse consumer base at all levels should only be the first steps.

By Maria Bita