The Many Shades of Multiracial Beauty
The Color of Us: Blog Post 05
By: Sydni Mackey & Sonya Colattur
The lack of available cosmetic products that are manufactured and marketed to a growing demographic of multiracial people is disconcerting and frustrating. In an industry that has historically served and promoted the beauty standard of white women, the options for people of color, and multiracial individuals specifically, are limited. The struggle to find images that are reflective of multiracial identity and beauty, combined with products that do not meet the needs of various skin tones and hair types, remains challenging. Although recent years have seen a movement towards inclusivity in cosmetic marketing campaigns, the shift to expansive product lines based on multiracial diversity has been limited.
Multiracial beauty is becoming increasingly accepted and is a growing demographic and consumer base. According to the most recent U.S. census of 2020, the U.S. is more diverse and more multiracial than ever before. People of color represent 43% of the population in 2020, a substantial increase from 34% in 2010. Additionally, the number of people who identify as multiracial, being of more than one race, increased from 2.9% of the population in 2010, to 10.2% of the population in 2020.
With this growing diversity and demographic, the beauty industry is under pressure to become more inclusive and develop a wider array of beauty products. Some brands have launched numerous different shades of foundations and concealers pushed by women of color working within the beauty industry itself. Women such as Blanda Atis, who is the cosmetic chemist who is the head of L’Oreal’s Multicultural Beauty Lab. Her team has developed dozens of new shades of foundation after studying the skin tones of women representing 57 countries.
Progress is also being pushed by outsiders to the beauty industry. Fenty Beauty, launched by pop-star Rihanna in 2017, has over 40 shades of foundation specifically developed for women with varying darker skin tones. In the years since it launched, Fenty continues to earn profit and is consistently sold out in stores proving that there is a market for multiracial cosmetics and that developing, producing, and providing such products is financially lucrative.
Brooke Devard Ozanydinli is the founder of The Naked Beauty Podcast and states, “We (women of color) have spending power, so it goes far beyond a trend for companies: It’s in their best economic interest to be more inclusive.”
One additional area for improvement and growth in the beauty industry is in the skin care market. Carlos A. Charles, M.D., Board Certified Dermatologist and Founder of Derma di Colors, calls out sunscreen development as one product category that is continuously struggling when it comes to creating products for consumers with non-white skin tones.
While many large mainstream cosmetic companies may cite overhead development costs as the main reason for not expanding and developing product lines to meet the needs of an increasingly multiracial consumer base, brands such as Fenty clearly prove that investment leads to profit. Additionally, cosmetic chemist Stephen Alain Ko states, “Whether or not a formula is harder or easier to make should be irrelevant. A brand should face the challenges of the formulation to serve its customers.”
In conclusion, as beauty standards evolve and change, as society becomes more inclusive and diverse, the beauty industry must adapt to creating product lines that represent real people, real consumers. As multiracial consumers, we must continue to insist that the brands we support embrace the many shades of multiracial beauty.