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Fenty Beauty Should Make the Rest of the Industry Want to Do Better

40 foundation shades shouldn't be incredible. It should be normal.

Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

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If you haven’t heard the news (are you okay?), Rihanna finally released her much-anticipated beauty line, Fenty Beauty, at the start of New York Fashion Week last Thursday.

Take her wild success with the Fenty Puma line (and countless other entrepreneurial endeavors and collaborations) into consideration, and it would be easy to assume that Rihanna’s entering the beauty space was just a shiny financial play, but you'd be assuming wrong. There's so much more here.

Obviously, everyone is in awe of Rihanna’s seemingly perfect being. But what’s being most celebrated about Fenty Beauty isn't celebrity, but rather its wildly accommodating and accessible range of 40 different foundation shades. Oh, and its great quality, too. Media’s toughest beauty critics — like Cheryl, Racked’s senior beauty reporter — and seasoned makeup pros alike agree that the 91-piece collection is actually very good.

It’s honestly unheard of, really, for a brand to take so many different types of women into consideration upon its debut. Which is, of course, upsetting to sit with as a black woman. The frustrating dilemma of where and how far women of color have to go to find makeup made for their complexions — not to mention at what cost — has been going on long before I even knew what makeup was.

Fenty Beauty isn’t the first brand to attack (or at the very least, acknowledge) the industry’s ugly inclusivity problem. Maybelline put a lot of energy into the marketing of its 40-shade Fit Me foundation line, and the much-loved Becca is known for its diverse, accommodating products — especially its $44 Ultimate Cover Foundation.

Still, when drugstore brands extend shade ranges, they don’t often take the skin tones of women of color into consideration; everything is too yellow, too orange, or too ashy. And when brands do get it right, like Becca, you can rarely find anything under $40.

Mom #FENTYBEAUTY FOR ALL Regram: @catquinn

A post shared by FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA (@fentybeauty) on

What Fenty Beauty has done differently and better is recognize that accessibility and genuine inclusivity — not marketing jargon, but the real time and energy and research that delivers 40 completely different, nuanced foundation shades — will sell product. More than that, it will make women feel seen, heard, and beautiful. No Kardashian limited-edition hype. No selling out in seconds. Supply, meet serious demand.

It’s also worth noting that there are dozens and dozens of black-owned beauty brands doing their absolute best to 1) make sure you know they’re there, and 2) get the product out to the people who need it. Aside from the obvious good that has come from the launch of Fenty Beauty, it’s also shed much-needed light on how majorly we need actual women of color in the beauty industry: on the teams, in the labs, and at the conference tables, calling the shots.

So to the beauty industry at large: It must be known by now, with unwavering proof, that if you make products for women of color with actual women in color in mind, we will spend the money. Shit, we're buying Fenty Beauty in bulk, and its darker shades are even selling out of Sephora stores around the country and online. It’s your move, and we’re waiting on it.