Let’s Talk About: Makeup Inclusivity

Story and photo by Elizabeth Reyna-Hernandez

The number of makeup brands out there are endless. From the dollar store to the high end shelves of Sephora, you can find makeup at nearly any price point. The question is, do cosmetic companies offer shades that were specifically made to suit your skin tone?

Inspired by makeup inclusivity, Grand Central gathered 11 girls of different skin tones around campus to help us on our mission to find the perfect highlighter shade for different skin tones. From perfectly pale to beautifully bronzed, we were determined to find something for everyone.

While some people are lucky enough to walk into the store and walk out having found their shade, not everyone gets to experience that.

“Dark foundations often can look ashy, or chalky. Often, there aren’t enough variety of darker shades from big retailers like Revlon and such,” says sophomore Simonae Dismuke.

Dismuke wearing Anastasia Beverly Hills “Bronzed” and The Balm “Betty Lou Manizer”.

Taking a look back at makeup trends over the years, the Queen Elizabeth Era sticks out. During this time women would cover their face in a combination of white lead and vinegar to look as pale as they could. This makeup look was sought after because it was considered a sign of wealth and nobility.

Presently, select cultures view light, pale skin as the best skin color to have. A pale skin tone showcases economic status. In this case, women with light skin symbolize that they are wealthy and do not work outside in the sun. Women in Asian cultures purchase lightening skin creams to lighten their complexion as much as they can because of this.

In American culture today people crave the coveted bronzy look that says “I just got back from vacation.” Consumers want some color along with access to cosmetics to help them enhance their appearance and get that “J-Lo” glow.

“People have a hard time finding shades that will match their skin complexion because the lack of development.” says senior Cia Elder.

Elder wearing Becca “Prosecco Pop” and “Champagne Pop”.

One cosmetic company heard the cry for makeup inclusive products and decided to take initiative. That brand? Fenty Beauty, created by none other than Grammy winning singer, Rihanna.

Rihanna’s new makeup line has us and makeup junkies around the world swooning over all the options she has given us. Fenty Beauty offers consumers 40 different shades of foundation to choose from. These shades created in mind to cater to the needs of people with albinism all the way to the darkest of skin.

“Fenty Beauty was created for everyone: for women of all shades, personalities, attitudes, cultures, and races. I wanted everyone to feel included. That’s the real reason I made this line.”


Fenty Beauty has raised the bar for shade ranges in makeup lines that has got the entire world talking. The problem with many brands of makeup is that they don’t recognize the need for an inclusive shade range of makeup.

When there is a “must-have” product that everyone is buzzing about and people of color cannot buy it due to the lack of shades, it is extremely disappointing. Products that are marketed as “universal” and only carry a couple shades, are excluding all of the other beautiful skin tones out there from pale to dark.

NYX Cosmetics, a professional makeup brand sold in drugstores, carries a BB cream with only three shades that are all similar in color. Assuming that people of all skin tones who want to buy a BB cream can fit into one of the three shades that NYX offers is not all encompassing. However, NYX is not alone when it comes to being a brand that does not offer an extensive shade range. From drugstore to luxury, the majority of brands that are on the market are also guilty of completely disregarding a range of different skin tones.

Makeup brands need to recognize the need for an inclusive shade range and follow in the footsteps of brands like Fenty Beauty. Another popular brand that has recognized the need for many shades and is currently making a step in the right direction is Too Faced. Too Faced is known for their alluring packaging, innovative products and the infamous “Born This Way” foundation. The problem with their foundation is it started out with only 12 shades. Recently, Too Faced expanded their range and added 2 lighter shades and 4 darker shades to meet the needs of more people.

While we wait for the rest of the cosmetic companies to step up their shade range, it is clear Rihanna has changed the makeup game. Inclusive makeup is here to stay and we’re all for it.