I originally wrote this post over a year ago but the issue arose again during the #brownbeauty discussion on twitter so I’ve decided to revise it and re-publish it.
The UK has come on leaps and bounds in creating makeup suitable for dark skin tones with ranges extending their colour choices to cater for the non caucasian beauty. This seems especially true to luxury brands like Giorgio armani, Mac and NARS. But there is one area in the beauty world where we are lagging. Where are all the non celebrity darker skinned models in beauty advertising?
I couldn’t remember seeing many so I sent the following tweet to my followers on Twitter earlier today -
beauty bloggers? can you tell me of any current uk beauty campaigns featuring dark skinned models?
All the responses were for non UK brands. Of course MUA recently collaborated with Alexandra Burke but she is a celebrity and not a model. The only UK brands that come to mind when talking about dark skinned models are Sleek and Illamasqua. It is a sad state of affairs when they are the only two brands that come to mind. But Illamasqua only use dark skinned models occasionally and their use of them can be a tad gimmicky. While Sleek seem to be drifting further and further away from their original ethos of creating makeup for darker skin types. Of course I realise that women of colour only make up around 2.5% of the UK population but would lighter skinned ladies really not buy from a brand that used a dark skinned woman in their adverts. Dove have the balance right with their real women advertising campaign featuring women of many different races and skin tones (as well as different sizes) The success of that campaign is proof that diversity can and does sell products.
Of course this lack of diversity in advertising isn’t just limited to the beauty world. The fashion world also has the same issues and I think it is time that brands embraced different races and made their advertising all inclusive. Mixed race and black women spend insane amounts of money on beauty products and the lack of representation for them can make them feel undervalued and pushed to the outside. I don’t know any woman who wouldn’t buy from a brand who used dark skinned models and the success of the likes of Joan Smalls and Jourdan dunn prove that dark skinned models CAN sell products. In a world where Rihanna and Beyonce are used to sell massive amounts of all kinds of products, dark skinned women can and do sell products to women of all races.
I long for a day when beauty advertising truly represents the women of Britain. I do believe that time will come. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have thought that I’d actually be able to purchase a foundation at John Lewis and now I actually have a choice of brands. There is no doubting that the beauty industry has made huge strides towarsds tackling the lack of makeup for darker skin tones in the last ten years but I hope it won’t take them another ten years to redress the balance in beauty advertising.