20 December 2021

Inclusive Cosmetic Products: Is the Cosmetics Industry Getting Better?

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Inclusive Beauty

Couture cosmetics and beauty influences the products available in high street stores. The changes that are made at the top, impact wider society and prompt inclusivity by producing products that can be used by everyone.

Inclusive cosmetics

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In 1974 Vogue’s front cover featured Beverley Johnson – this was the first time a black model had ever been featured on the cover of Vogue. In 1968 Naomi Ruth Sims was featured on the cover of the Ladies’ Home Journal – Sims is widely credited for being the first black model but in 1962 the Black is Beautiful fashion show, (turned movement) paved the way for her success by pioneering the way that fashion viewed diversity. In July 1970 Vogue featured it’s first solo male on a front cover – the man was Helmut Berger. This paved the way for Harry Styles to feature on the December 2020 cover of American Vogue, wearing a dress and challenging the gender stereotypes society has surrounding men. Laverne Cox was the first transgender Vogue coverstar in 2017 signalling that stereotypes are changing and opening up awareness of the LGBTQAI+ community as Bretman Rock became the first openly gay man to be a cover star for Playboy in 2021. The first Asian model to feature solo on a Vogue cover was Fei Fei Sun in 2013. Winnie Harlow was the first model with Vitiligo to walk the Victoria Secret catwalk in 2018, breaking the taboos associated with the skin condition. Sinead Burke became the first ‘little person’ to appear on the front cover of a Vogue magazine in 2019. The first down’s syndrome model featured in a Vogue magazine was Ellie Goldstein; a model whose path to fame was helped by Madeline Stuart. Stuart is a model with down’s syndrome who hit the headlines in 2015 and has since worked with some of the most successful fashion publications and walked some of the most prestigious runways; all the time advocating for diversity and inclusivity in fashion.

What do all these people symbolize? A change in tone (not without struggle) towards conversations that have been brushed under the carpet but need to be addressed across all sectors. But most importantly in the fashion, cosmetics and beauty industries. These conversations extend to packaging as well as formulations.

Inclusive cosmetics packaging

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68% of Americans would like to see more diversity in Beauty and Cosmetics Advertising, 56% say that diversity helps to show them different ways to be beautiful. BAME audiences reportedly spend 80% more money on products and in 2017 Rihanna launched her makeup brand Fenty Beauty – a launch which included 40 different colors, an unprecedented range for a brand launch and a strong statement that called for diversity in the products available on the market. After just one month of sales the brand was valued at $72 million – an indication that supporting BAME audiences by providing a range of tones and colours to suit all skin tones is also a beneficial business move. Fenty Beauty was not the first beauty brand to offer a range of tones – however it was the brand that got the most publicity for it. The first brand to give individuals of other than caucasians the chance to buy products that matched their skin was IMAN – this was the first beauty brand exclusively for women of different ethnicities. 

Kohl Kreatives offers makeup brushes that cater to those with visual impairments meaning that though it is niche – there are moves being made to bring further inclusivity into the mainstream.

However, what different age groups think of as ‘inclusive’ differs – 55% of Baby Boomers mark inclusivity by the range of products available for different ages, but only 32% of Gen Z would agree. 40% of Gen Z mark inclusivity by gender neutral products available but only 25% of Baby Boomers recognize this as ‘inclusive’.

Generation differences

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But being the largest generation to hold a considerable percentage of the consumer market, Generation Z are the generation who will define what ‘inclusive’ is on the shelves too. They make up 40% of the consumers in the US and by 2030 will make up 30% of the global workforce. But here’s the most important statistic: 98% of Gen Z own a smartphone. 

What does this mean? It means that Gen Z are the most connected generation yet – with a wealth of information at their fingertips and the ability to be contacted at all times of the day or night, almost anywhere on the planet. For brands this means an unlimited amount of marketing potential and for consumers it means an unlimited ability to spend. But due to being so informed about a variety of social, political and economic issues – Gen Z also cares about who they are buying from. 

Generation Z

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What does this mean? Brands now have to be more transparent while continuing to provide high quality products.

Brands such as Asos, Sephora and L’Oreal have made an effort to be more inclusive with their employees. Gender neutral language has become part of L’Oreal’s policy in the workplace since 2019. Asos now give paid leave for pregnancy loss, fertility treatment and flexible working hours for those going through the menopause; as well as up to 6 weeks paid leave for various life events including escaping domestic abuse and gender reassignment surgery. Sephora run virtual classes to raise awareness and inspire confidence around life transitions – such as a seminar on the transgender community. Due to legislative setbacks in the US – issues such as transgender rights taking longer to alter and put through the system meaning that while the law might not be able to do much; the fashion, beauty and cosmetics sectors can.


Want to learn more about how cosmetics and beauty products influence society? Take a look at our Child’s Play blog post to find out the impact that the children’s market has on the sector.