What Are You Using? Brands That Reflect Diversity And The Ones Who Missed The Memo

June 12, 2013  |  

Most people of African descent, from African American to Bajan, are fully aware of the difficulty in finding the right foundation or pantyhose to complement one’s skin tone. The frustration has even crossed over to medical devices, as non-whites have also felt shunned by Johnson & Johnson, due to a lack of Band-Aids for darker skin tones. A Greek-born entrepreneur invented the “Ebon-Aid”, a “bandage exclusively designed for people of color,” proving that the good fight for race inclusivity within the beauty industry still rages on. Having said that, let’s take a look at those brands who believe in the manufacturing of multi-ethnic products and those who do not.

WIN

The range of cosmetic products, specifically foundations and powders, for women of color has widened the past couple of decades. Before Iman’s Cream to Powder Foundation, the struggle to keep from looking like an ashy ghost was real! Now, besides Iman’s glorious array of makeup for, what seems to be, every WOC skin tone imaginable, other cosmetic brands such as Bobbi Brown, MAC Cosmetics (both owned by Estee Lauder) and Fashion Fair add to the multinational beauty revolution.

Nude/sheer pantyhose are another thing. But having to search for nude pantyhose when your skin has the tone of a Werther’s Original candy is another. There are some wonderful options, like Frangi Pangi, to select from. Frangi Pangi is one of a select few pantyhose brands that fill a deep hole in the world of hosiery.

If you thought that it was hard to buy the ideal package of nude pantyhose, then maybe you haven’t searched for nude underwear. After much research, very few brands of nude underwear for different skin tones could be found. However, MySkins bras and panties and the UK’s Marks & Spencer Nearly Unclothed line will do the trick, covering your bits in comfort and style.

For years, Pantene Pro-V has topped ‘Best Of’ beauty lists in popular women’s magazines. Luckily, its shampoos and conditioners protect and nourish all strands and the hair care trademark has gone so far as to create products exclusively for African-American hair through their Truly Relaxed and Truly Natural goods.

Dove is the ultimate in beauty marketing prowess when it comes to promoting diversity in beauty. Dove does not strive to solely highlight super tall, skinny, white females in their marketing campaigns, since their bar soaps, body washes, and deodorants are made for all. That message shows in their beautiful magazines ads and powerful online viral campaigns and television commercials.

FAIL

Regrettably, there are other beauty and  fashion brands that have yet to provide merchandise for women in their numerous shades of color.

Brands such as Benefit and Estee Lauder sell luscious mascaras, eye shadows, and lip glosses in fun, colorful retro packaging. But the pickings, such as the foundation and powders, are slim for non-whites. Other black supermodels, the next Chanel Imans and Noemie Lenoirs, are barely represented in their commercial advertisements or print campaigns.

Though, to give credit where credit is due, Estee Lauder did add Joan Smalls to its list of spokeswomen in late 2010 and has broadened its color palette with its Double Wear line of products. Other lines, however, are more limited.

DKNY and L’eggs are two of the most well-known fashion imprints for legwear, but if your legs are a hue of burnt sienna or dark chocolate, the chances of finding pantyhose or sheers are grim.

While some modern hair care brands like Pantene Pro-V are out there, the competition can be a little slow to catch up. Redken and Herbal Essences are considered world leaders in the beauty business, but their marketing tactics clearly exclude 99.9 percent of non-whites. Also, they have not created specific hair care lines geared towards black women, as Pantene has.

What are some of your favorite mass market beauty and fashion brands? Share your tips in the comments.

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