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It Took A Cash Grab For Big Beauty Brands To Finally Acknowledge Our Dark Skin

It's long overdue, but the success of small and independent brands has helped the larger companies realize that beauty comes in every shade.

12/14/2017 14:11 EST | Updated 12/14/2017 14:38 EST

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder — unless that beholder happens to be a cosmetics company. In that case, beauty is black and white, with white being "beautiful." Many of us melanin-rich girls have been pretty much non-existent in the world of beauty until very recently, unless we were the targets of whitening and lightening products — oh, that sneaky little $18-billion dollar industry — so we could be whitened and brightened and made to be beautiful.

Getty Images for FENTY PUMA By Rihanna
A model has her makeup done with Fenty Beauty products backstage at the FENTY PUMA by Rihanna Spring/Summer 2018 Collection at Park Avenue Armory on Sept. 10, 2017 in New York City.

When it comes to facial cosmetics like foundation and powder, though, most major brands only carry broad ranges of beige. You can really only find two or three deeper shades for each product — and that's if you're lucky. While some of the higher-end brands, like NARS and IMAN, as well as independent brands like Vasanti Cosmetics and Huda Beauty, have made strides with more inclusive choice, overall it's still pretty slim pickings if you have a darker complexion like myself.

But this past September the beauty game changed dramatically when RiRi took stage. Rihanna's Fenty Beauty cosmetics line quite literally laid the foundation to bring diversity to the beauty industry. With 40 shades of foundation, Fenty was the first cosmetics line to offer a truly inclusive range of shades for darker skin tones. And clearly the need was there. Over half of the deepest shades sold out within the first week on shelves at Sephora stores.

Even celebrities like Mindy Kaling and Gabby Sidibe were thrilled to see a cosmetics line finally catering to women like themselves.

The launch of Fenty Beauty stirred an awakening in the beauty industry of the importance — not to mention lucrative profitability — of diversity in cosmetics. Surprise! We have money to spend and don't have any desire to look like an orange rind. (There's already an American president that has that look on lock down, besides.)

Never one to miss a money-making opportunity, Christmas came early for the Kardashian-Jenner clan as Kylie Jenner found a way to cash in on diverse beauty. Kylie Cosmetics recently launched 30 shades of a new concealer product, with products ranging from "fair" to "deep dark."

While many are applauding Baby Jenner for her inclusive new offering, others are throwing shade at Kylie on social media, blasting her for jumping on the bandwagon to get in on a cash-grab.

Personally, this is one of the cases where I'm letting it slide, because the possibility of the positive outcomes outweigh the possible not-so-honourable intentions.

Diversity and inclusiveness in beauty is long overdue

If it's taking small independent brands, singers, superstars and (gulp) even reality stars like Kylie to push big beauty brands to get into the game and finally acknowledge us, and meet and exceed our beauty wants and needs, then so be it.

While I may no longer qualify as a fill-in for Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy, if I can finally find a product that conceals my dark circles — a very common problem for many darker-skinned women, one yet to be tackled by the beauty industry — I will be amazingly impressed and thankful for inclusive cosmetics brands that follow this trend.

In the meantime I'll be sitting pretty, cautiously optimistic about the cosmetics industry embracing a darker side of beauty.

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