One way or another, 2016 threw all of us for a loop. It felt like a rough year for a number of reasons. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to discuss a far more positive aspect of the year: strides made towards beauty equality!
Makeup and beauty brands get a bad rap for being superficial, but this past year, many brands made conscious efforts to put forth more meaningful messages in both their products and in their advertisements. This new attitude was a much-needed changeup in the beauty industry. Here are the three ways the industry turned a corner:
1. Inclusive Products and Meaningful Collaborations
Makeup brands truly stepped it up and created foundation and concealer lines that encompassed more skin tones than ever before. Standard foundation ranges today include at least 25 shades, which is better than ever before. However, most shades in these ranges still cover only fair to medium skin tones. There’s still some much-needed work to be done to provide the same kind of shade selection to those in the tan or deep range. I have a good feeling this is going to be a main focus for the makeup industry in 2017.
Companies also kicked it up a notch by taking part in meaningful partnerships and impactful collaborations. The MAC Selena Collection honored the beloved Mexican-American singer, Laura Mercier’s Ovarian Cancer Fund continued to educate women on ovarian cancer and raise money for research, and Honest Beauty helped fund STEM and coding programs for young girls through their continued partnership with Girls Who Code. These kinds of collaborations make me feel so warm inside. I hope we see even more of them this year!
2. Notable Changes in Beauty Advertising
Beauty companies also implemented big changes in their advertisements. Models are meant to represent real people, and too often, the models we see in beauty ads set unrealistically high standards. This year, it was nice to see models that actually look like the people I see in my day-to-day life. This shift towards more “realistic” or “natural” models sparked huge outpourings of self-confidence in people across the world. Talk about positive steps in the right direction!
This year, Katie Meade became the first woman with Down syndrome to be featured as the face of a beauty campaign. Her story as a special olympics Olympian is inspiring enough, but the fact that she was featured in a beauty campaign is huge. Her position helped show other girls suffering from similar disorders and physical disabilities that makeup isn’t something meant to cover up our individuality. Makeup is truly a tool to help promote self-expression and to display each person’s unique personality. Fingers crossed that more brands follow the example set by Beauty & Pin-Ups!
Covergirl also introduced their first male spokesperson, the internet-famous makeup artist James Charles. This was a gigantic step in helping normalize makeup for boys and men. Huge. Makeup ads are normally aimed solely towards females, so it was amazing to see this change. This was definitely one of the most impactful beauty moments of 2016. Hopefully this trend continues well past 2017!
3. Celebrities Convey Powerful Beauty Messages
Celebrities also played a big role in helping people feel confident enough to embrace their natural beauty. Motivation from popular celebrities gave some serious inspiration to us mere mortals in terms of promoting self-love and self-confidence when it comes to all things beauty.
Alicia Keys threw everyone for a loop when she arrived at the VMAs sans makeup and again at the BET Awards (above) in a natural look. Her rejection of cosmetics began earlier in the year and continued well through the VMAs. Her powerful statement on self acceptance demonstrated how we’re all capable of generating that level of self-confidence. Kerry Washington made equally stirring waves with her decision to wear her natural hair at the Emmys. She was invoking some serious Olivia Pope vibes in this moment. Power, to you girl!