Growing up, I always had an interest in makeup. As far as I can remember, I would go to the mall with my friends to visit the beauty counters. We would slather on all the samples that each counter had to offer, and while my friends were fine after, I would end up with a red face full of hives. I’ve always had super sensitive skin, which made it really difficult for me to find beauty products that wouldn’t hurt or damage my skin. Most mainstream makeup and skincare brands are made with ingredients and added fragrances that would make my face like a swollen stoplight. For the longest, I thought that I could never wear makeup. It wasn’t until a few years ago my luck took a turn for the best. The clean beauty industry began to explode right before my eyes.
Numerous women began to become more conscious of the harmful ingredients in all of their beauty products and began to demand safer cosmetics. Finally, women like me with skin allergies finally began to feel catered to by the beauty community. Although I was happy to be seen finally, I began to notice the ads on the TV. The posters in the makeup stores and the meticulously curated brand pages on Instagram all push the “clean beauty aesthetic” all marketed to white people.
At first, I tried to ignore it. There were only a few clean beauty brands at the time, so I just brushed it off. However, as the years went by and clean beauty became more mainstream, one thing remained the same. Women of color were being left out of the clean beauty conversation. We were left out of ads and campaigns. We were left out of shade ranges. We were left out of the conversation.
It is no secret that the cosmetics industry has a nasty history of marketing beauty products that contain harmful ingredients and are dangerous for women of color. Infertility, fibroids, alopecia, and even cancer have plagued our communities as a result. In terms of clean and safe beauty, women of color are the most in need.
To jump further in the conversation and relationship between the clean beauty industry and racial inclusivity, let’s take a look at the company Goop, made by Gwyneth Paltrow. What started off as a weekly wellness newsletter eventually exploded into a website. Rachel Brown from Beauty Independent described Paltrow: “She helped define clean beauty as a healthy alternative to conventional luxury beauty with the aspirational, exorbitant, and restrictive trappings of its predecessor. She embodied the category as a thin, wealthy white woman.” The brand had roughly 230 clean beauty brands on the website; however, only 5 brands had Black founders.
It wasn’t until May 2020 that people began to call out clean beauty retailers for their lack of diversity. The lack of inclusivity among black, clean beauty founders and consumers is not a surprise. Yet, despite the protests, progress has been slow. Only changing the foundation shade ranger wider isn’t enough for inclusivity.
The world is changing, and I hope that clean beauty changes with it. It is time to end the image of exclusivity. To uplift BIPOC creators, influencers, and entrepreneurs in the clean beauty space, it is critical that consumers hold white brands and companies accountable for their actions. When we support companies that are racially inclusive when it comes to clean beauty, we ensure a diverse and inclusive industry because everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, should be able to access clean, healthy, and safe beauty.