It’s a Fenty Beauty kind of world, and it seems many other cosmetics brands, even long-standing names like Revlon and Maybelline have found themselves at the mercy of the Rihanna-created brand. Fenty shook up the beauty industry last year by introducing an all-inclusive 40 shade foundation range that took into account women’s various skin tones from very fair to very dark, with notably the shades on the darker side of the spectrum selling out rapidly. Critics initially even called out other brands for attempting to quickly adapt in an effort to steal attention for the brand and not for the purpose of truly offering products that place their customers’ diversity as a priority. In September, shortly after Fenty’s release, Makeup Forever introduced an Ultra HD Foundation line that offered 40 different options for various skin tones and captioned the line on social media with what seemed to mock Fenty’s popularity, saying “40 shades is nothing new to us,” to which the “Umbrella” singer responded herself, “Still ashy.” Even Kylie Jenner who had already found tremendous success in the beauty industry with her Kylie Cosmetics line, released a 30 shade foundation series a short time later which sent a message loud and clear that the beauty world had gotten the memo: Buyers wanted more choices that reflect what they see in the mirror, and more than that they wanted to be seen in a world that up until Fenty hit the scene, seemed to ignore them.
The Almay brand (owned by Revlon) is the latest in line to realize that they’ve been dismissing the demands of large majority of consumers and their buying power. Yahoo reports that the brand was a favorite in the eighties due to the non-irritating, hypoallergenic formulas offered in many of it’s products. In the early nineties, a time when women of color seemed to only be catered to by brands like Fashion Fair and Zuri, Almay expanded it’s shade collection to include darker and deeper shades with its “Darker Tones Of Almay” line, a ground-breaking move at the time. The brand tapped model Beverly Peele as the face of the product that offered “a new range for shades of sensitive skin.” But soon after the brand took a left turn and began featuring actresses like Courtney Thorne-Smith as spokespeople, and although other popular brands like MAC and L’Oreal grew to be more inclusive, Almay was left in the dust with ads that failed to feature women of darker skin tones. Even until lately the brand has only tapped celebrities like Carrie Underwood and Kate Hudson as the face of the brand, sending a message that Almay wasn’t for African-Americans or anyone who wasn’t white with blonde hair. Not to mention, the criticism that the brand’s hashtag #SimplyAmerican has received in a time where race, culture and politics are repeatedly at the center of debate in this country.
Amanda Asher, an Almay representative, says in 2018 it’s time for a change:
“To not be inclusive was hurting our hearts. The brand wants to be hyper-aware going forward.”
In 2017, Almay tapped Rashidah Jones comedienne and producer who comes from a mixed ethnic background.
Marketing Director Antonette Bivona is has also been instrumental in Almay’s re-branding and is aware that the company has a long road ahead:
“During research for our new brand positioning, we received feedback, directly from consumers, that they had felt excluded from the brand and that our product range did not meet their beauty needs. This was never our intention.”
“Our brand belief and product offerings should reflect the brand’s desire to be more inclusive. Somewhere along the way, Almay lost its way, targeting a small range of skin tones.”
“We needed to reach a more diverse audience.”
The brand recently launched the “Best Blend Forever” foundation line in an attempt to move forward. However, the line features only three shades for darker skin tones and 12 shades total. Still, the brand continues to take baby steps with social media and ads featuring more women of color with textured hair, women with freckles and a message that beauty doesn’t just come in one shade.
Bivona shared although they’re pleased with these first steps, Almay has a lot of catching up to do:
“We have a long way to go, but we’re excited about the first, important, steps we have made.”
I’m more of a L’Oreal “True Match” girl myself. It’s affordable and Crème Café has never failed me as far as coverage or not clogging my pores. While, I’m glad Almay is attempting to get its act together, I can’t believe in 2018 cosmetics brands still continue to believe that beauty can be limited to such a narrow selection of shades. Unfortunately, with so many other brands already following Fenty’s Lead, it may already be too late for Almay.
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