If there’s one topic that has been abuzz in the beauty community in the last year or so, it’s been inclusivity. If we are completely honest, black and brown skin has never been high on the list of priorities in the beauty industry. In my 34 years on Earth, I never remember a time when I could walk in a store and see shades of makeup that truly complimented me – until now. Historically, there has been a handful of major brands that made an effort to extend shade ranges and consider ethnic skin, but they were few and far between.
In 2017, the launch of Fenty Beauty reawakened the conversation about color in cosmetics. In 2020, the swelling of the Black Lives Matter movement made brands more aware of the need for higher regard for Black women in beauty spaces. Some brands made genuine efforts to reform their strategies, but others, on the other hand, went for an obvious cash grab. This introduced another facet of the diversity discussion – representation in ownership. It was one thing for brands that traditionally ignored women of color to suddenly expand their offerings, but it was another to look around the shelves of the major cosmetic retailers and realize that the Black women buying these products were not the ones making money off of them.
Enter the 15% Pledge. This non-profit initiative brings awareness to the fact that the percentage of brand representation in major retailers is not commensurate to the percentage of Black people in America, which is around 13%. This pledge challenges retailers in all industries to dedicate 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands, but in the beauty industry, Sephora, Ulta, and Blue Mercury have chosen to take the pledge.
This fall, Sephora launched its Black Beauty Is Beauty campaign, highlighting Black-owned beauty brands available at the retailer, and adding new brands across categories. This includes specified space on the website, new ads, and prominent displays at the front of brick-and-mortar stores. Joining Fenty Beauty and Pat McGrath on Sephora’s shelves this month were Fashion Fair, LYS Beauty, and Danessa Myricks. I treated myself to two products from each of these brands.
It’s only fitting to start with Fashion Fair. Fashion Fair is the mother of Black-owned beauty brands. This prestige cosmetic maker ran so many other Black-owned brands could fly. Starting in 1973, Fashion Fair was created in response to the lack of cosmetic options for darker skin at the time. The brand continued to flourish during the 1980s and 1990s but was ultimately a casualty of the recessions of the 2000s, as was its parent company, Johnson Publishing.
Through the efforts of Desiree Rogers and Cheryl Mayberry Mckissack, Fashion Fair was officially relaunched last month with five products for face and complexion, plus the Iconic Lipstick.
Fashion Fair Skin Flex Stick Foundation
$37 – www.sephora.com
In my recollection, it was Fashion Fair’s foundations that made me unsure about the original brand. In observing them at the counter and on other people, they seemed to be great in shade but leaving much to be desired in terms of finish. I was intrigued by the new release and wondered how the modern Fashion Fair complexion products had evolved.
The Fashion Skin Flex Stick is Foundation is designed to offer medium coverage with a natural, semi-matte finish. It is vegan and comes in 16 medium to deep shades. I love how this foundation looks on me. It gives great coverage – enough for me to forgo my concealer, if I choose – but not so much that it looks unnatural. It feels very lightweight and the true satin finish looks very sophisticated and polished. This will be my go-to for special occasions and events. It also doesn’t hurt that the stick formulation is easy to travel with.
Verdict: Mighty Fine
Fashion Fair Iconic Lipstick
$26 – www.sephora.com
As beautiful as this lipstick is, I was hesitant to buy it because of the price point. There are very few makeup items that I will pay more than $20 for and lip color is generally not one of them. I took a chance on this lipstick because it was the only Fashion Fair product that was physically available in my local store. Also, I immediately noticed how beautiful the packaging is (it’s also magnetic). I ended treating myself to the shade Chocolate Raspberry.
Available in 14 shades, the Fashion Fair Iconic Lipsticks claim to deliver a satin finish with medium buildable coverage. Sunflower seed oil and rosemary leaf extract set the stage for hydration and conditioning of the lips. This was evident the moment I applied the lipstick. Chocolate Raspberry is a gorgeous pearl shade, but the formula is the star here. This lipstick glides on like butter and it’s so comfortable to wear. I will eventually treat myself to another shade.
Verdict: Mighty Fine
LYS Beauty is the first Black-owned brand to be touted as part of the Clean at Sephora collection. LYS offers the full gamut of complexion products, plus blush, featuring skin-loving ingredients and melanin-friendly shades.
Triple Fix Serum Foundation
$22 – www.sephora.com
This serum foundation offers buildable light-to-medium coverage while fostering healthier skin. Featuring ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ashwagandha, turmeric, and avocado oil, Triple Fix provides a flawless natural finish while protecting and nourishing the skin.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect in trying this foundation the first time, especially since I could not see it in the store before purchasing. I chose the shade DN5 based on the shade matching tools available, and it was spot on. I had tried serum foundations in the past without success. This foundation firmly turned that track record around. I absolutely love how glowy and fresh my face looks while wearing Triple Fix. It does cover my imperfections fairly effortlessly while leaving a nice, youthful finish. It’s like my skin, but better. It does its job as well or better than competitors twice the price. Dare I say, it may be my new favorite foundation.
Verdict: Might-T Fine
Higher Standard Satin/Matte Cream Blush
$16 – www.sephora.com
I chose the Higher Standard Satin/Matte Cream Blush in the shade Passion. Higher Standard delivers on its promise to give a natural flush in a non-greasy formula. The color payoff is excellent on this blush. It also features kaolin clay, avocado oil, and vitamin E, which is a big plus for skincare lovers.
Verdict: Mighty Fine
Danessa Myricks Beauty
Danessa Myricks is a veteran in the beauty industry, having transitioned from the publishing side to makeup artistry about 20 years ago. Her fashion-forward techniques are staples across media and red carpets alike. Launched in 2016, Danessa Myricks Beauty is revolutionizing the approach to beauty education and accessibility, offering a full line of multipurpose products for all skin tones.
Vision Flush Blush, Eyeshadow, and Lip Color
$20 – www.sephora.com
Vision Flush is a liquid color that is designed to offer a matte to semi-matte wash of buildable color. It is simple to use and ultra-portable in its lipgloss-like packaging. I bought this product because I am favoring a lot more multipurpose products for quick, natural looks.
I chose the shade Ballet Slippers, as I do not currently have a similar shade in my collection. The color grew on me as I wore it, but I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the wearability. On the eyes, I did experience some creasing and I found the formula a bit drying on the lips.
Verdict: It’s Okay
Dew Wet Balm Hydrating and Highlighting Balm
$22.00 – www.sephora.com
Do you ever wonder how makeup artists get that high fashion glow on models’ skin? Enter Dew Wet Balm. Dew Wet Balm adds a beautiful “glass” finish to the skin without the metallic look of a highlighter. It has jojoba oil amongst its ingredients to promote hydration and soften skin.
The more I concentrate on improving my complexion skills, the more I am leaning toward natural enhancements to the skin. Dew Wet Balm does just that. I love the subtlety of this product. You can see that it gave the skin a little something extra, but you wouldn’t look at the finish and say “oh, she’s wearing highlighter.” I also like that it can be worn beneath OR on top of powder. It’s great for just going about the day with a tinted moisturizer or classing up your glow for something more formal. I bought the shade Hot Water and I just may go back for the shade Clear.
Verdict: Mighty Fine
Beauty retailers still have a long way to go in terms of representation of BIPOC ownership on their shelves, but it is refreshing to see the effort. I am especially elated to see more representation of Black-owned companies in the prestige beauty space. The bigger picture is that this Black-owned beauty expansion benefits EVERYONE, not just Black people. ALL people, regardless of color, deserve access to brands that care about them and what they need.
What do you think about the new push for diversity in the beauty industry? Let’s talk in the comments below.