TWith the new standard set by Fenty Beauty’s 40-tone foundation, inclusivity has become an integral part of the makeup world. But while advances in make-up may lead you to believe that beauty in general has taken great leaps towards truly inclusiveness, diversity in the skincare industry still needs priority.
“Good skin is a symbol of luxury and status in this country, and the community of color is left behind,” says Caroline Robinson, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Chicago. In the United States, black women spend about $ 465 million a year on skin care, but despite their purchasing power, most of the main skin care products are created with European skin in mind. According to dermatologist Heather Woolery-Lloyd, M.D., some products like cleansers and moisturizers are suitable for all skin colors, dark skin has its own needs when it comes to remedies and the industry is not meeting them. According to a poll of 2,000 people by Le Cerre Skincare, 63 percent of women of color feel “ignored” by the industry and that “products are not effective enough for them.”
Melanin-rich skin is more susceptible to discoloration and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PPH) than Caucasian skin, but there are few OTC products that work to treat these problems in darker skin tones. “You can see a product that advertises itself, saying that“ 50 to 90 percent of women felt their brown spots were gone in four weeks, ”but that actually means 90 percent of skin types one through three – and it’s not that hard to do, says Dr. Woolery-Lloyd, pointing to the Fitzpatrick scale, a classification system that dermatologists use to classify skin color from lightest (type 1) to darkest (type 6). “For someone with black skin, this may not work because their dark spots are much more pigmented and harder to fix.” She adds that even the ingredients that make Working to reduce discoloration on darker skin, such as hydroquinone, can cause halos or a lightening “halo effect” around blemished areas if not applied carefully. Hardly a perfect solution.
While the lack of inclusiveness is clearly evident in the industry products on offer, the roots of the problem go deeper: For too long, women of color have been underrepresented in medicine, medical research and leadership positions in cosmetics companies, and this is reflected in the products we see on the shelves.
Part of the problem starts with dermatologists who often consult on the development of skin care products. Skin conditions often show up differently in darker skin tones and therefore darker people have different needs. However, a 2012 survey found that 47 percent of dermatologists believed their medical education did not prepare them for treating black skin, and a 2008 study found that only 12.2 percent of dermatology programs had a rotation in which patients received specific experiences. treating patients with skin color.
“You will find African American cosmetologists and dermatologists who can treat both Caucasian and African American skin, but you won’t find the opposite,” says Sandra Morgan Downey, medical esthetician and founder of Amenda Beauty.
It would be helpful to have more black dermatologists (they make up only 3 percent of dermatologists in the US, which is in stark contrast to the 15 percent of black patients who make up the country’s population), but all dermatologists should be trained to treat and recommend products for colored skin. “You can think of this as another insidious form of racism. Why [doctors] Consider taking care of skin color as an additional area of study? “Asks Chaneve Jeanniton, MD, a board-certified ophthalmic and facial plastic surgeon in Brooklyn, NY.
Another issue related to the lack of inclusion of skin care products is clinical trials. Although the FDA requires trials of topical drugs to include a range of skin tones, OTC products are not subject to any inclusion standards. “I definitely still think that when cosmetic brands do research, they don’t include so many people of color in their research because they are not coerced,” says Dr. Woollery-Lloyd.
With products like harsh scrubs, strong acids, and chemical peels – even those sold over the counter – this discrepancy is especially problematic. “When we conduct clinical trials, we worry about safety and efficacy, and safety becomes important for colored skin because melanocytes are more reactive and any slight irritation can cause hyperpigmentation,” says Dr. Woolery-Lloyd. She adds that the effects of the product can vary depending on where your skin is on the Fitzpatrick scale. “For a person with skin type two or three, a deep peel is fine and there really is no risk of any problems, but a deep peel for a person with skin type four or five is very risky.”
Lack of research can cause serious long-term skin problems in people living in BIPOC communities. “I know so many women who have come to my office who have suffered at the hands of poorly formulated products – who have invested their money in something and then suddenly have to do renovations because it is annoying. in their skin, ”says Dr. Janniton.
However, this is not all bad news: while the industry as a whole continues to fail, some researchers are focusing on melanin-rich skin. The Colored Skin Society, founded in 2004, has conducted a series of studies addressing the specific needs of colored skin, such as how to diagnose rosacea and how to manage PVC in darker skin tones. And just this year, to help dermatologists care for a more diverse set of patients, British medical student Malone Mukwendé has developed a guide called Mind Gap Here are photos of typical skin problems on black-brown skin, which is sorely lacking in many medical textbooks.
“We are becoming an increasingly diverse nation, and traditional texts and textbooks must evolve along with a changing society,” says Dr. Robinson.
Addressing the challenges of corporate inclusion
The problems are not limited to the medical field; It is also important that more BIPOC executives take on leadership positions in cosmetic brands. “We need black leadership in major white brands,” says Dr. Robinson.
In June of this year, Sharon Chutter, founder of Uoma Beauty, launched the Pull or Shut Up Challenge on Instagram, naming beauty brands for more than a lack of organizational inclusion and pleading with them to hire BIPOC candidates. “Everyone was talking about a lack of inclusion in terms of a product, but I thought they were looking at it from the wrong point of view,” Chuter said during a Well + Good Beauty State of the Union TALK speech in September. “The reason the result looks like this is because the input is wrong: most product development teams are not diverse … So when people ask for more product inclusivity, [they] you should ask about the composition of these organizations, because you cannot ask people to solve a problem that they cannot understand. ”
It is hoped that with more senior management, the beauty industry – and more importantly, its black consumers – will be able to see more products that actually satisfy their needs.
The best products on the shelves
There are lines of skin care products that cater to the needs of those with darker complexions, such as Mele, Epara, SheaMoisture and Dr. Barbara Sturm Darker Skin Tones, but remedies are still difficult to find, especially in bulk stores.
Once new products are created, they still have to go to retail stores. Before Sephora pledged to supply 15 percent of its inventory to Black-owned brands in early June, only nine of the 290 brands on its list were founded by BIPOC (and only two of those brands included skin care products). “[Companies] just throwing the same foods at people of color as others that may react differently to our skin, ”says Kay Cola, founder of OrganiGrowHairCo. “Nobody really has developed or formulated things that are non-toxic and beneficial to us that can help us cope with these skin conditions.”
It’s no surprise that several dark skin care products are created by independent brands founded by Black skin care professionals. Dr. Woolery-Lloyd’s Special Beauty aims to address pigmentation problems in melanin-rich skin, Dr. Jeanniton’s Epi.Logic program was designed with hyperpigmentation in mind, and Downey’s book Amenda Beauty was inspired by her own skin concerns as a black woman. “I think women of color want to hear that they are being counted in the wording and also know that what is being done will not make their anxiety worse,” says Dr. Jeanniton. “You can understand why people will be more confident in buying from a brand owned by Black, because there is confidence that they have been accounted for in this formulation.”
Part of the reason is that the brands owned by Black are responsible for developing skin care products that meet the specific needs of their community. But it takes money to develop, and investors largely ignored the black business owners. According to the 2017 My Investor Rating report, only 1 percent of venture-backed entrepreneurs are black and 0.2 percent are black women. The Let’s Consider Better Initiative, led by beauty entrepreneur Lauren Napier and Whitney Brown, founder of the digital platform Meet the Owner, aims to change this by helping black women founders raise capital but are unemployed. And the responsibility to create safe, stable products for all skin tones should not rest solely with black-owned brands: it should be included. each brand. It will take a multi-layered industry shift to make skincare truly all-encompassing and having its own 40-shade foundation style.
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