“Make-up is there for you to play with. It’s there for you to have fun with. It should never feel like pressure, and it should never feel like a uniform.” Rihanna.
By Aisha Aliu
August 02, 2022
“Don’t panic, calm down and breathe”, are the set of affirmations I have been subscribing to since Rihanna announced on the 10th of May the launch of Fenty Beauty in Africa. Today 27th of May, the beauty brand has officially launched in 8 African countries.
What is the hype behind the presence of the brand in Africa and how does it revolutionize our relationship with the beauty industry?
It is common, the talk of inclusivity and diversity in the beauty industry, but are you truly diverse if people who are slightly or largely different than your demographic’s appearances have a hard time finding products that are best suited to them and eventually must settle for the okay alternative? What Fenty Beauty however achieved was, that they created a product that catered to everyone’s needs. Beauty needed redefining and Rihanna and her team made just that happen. The brand’s tagline says it all, “Beauty for all.” Which can be translated to depict “You don’t have to look like the beauty standard, your appearance shouldn’t be subjected to a test of worthiness, all you must be, is you.” The brand also promotes gender neutrality with its products catering to both men and women.
In 2017, when the brand first launched, it offered 40 foundation shades, from the lightest tone #100 to the darkest shade #498. There is something for every girl. The very pale girl will find her exact skin tone without the weird undertones accompanying it and the really dark girl will find her exact shade without having to settle for a product a couple of shades lighter than her. Fenty beauty isn’t the first brand to offer 40 shades but the genius behind the brand’s marketing is the use of models from different ethnicity and being the first brand to truly reach everyone – from lightest to darkest– allowing the brand to be seen as “The new generation of beauty.” Little wonder how the brand made $570 million in the first 15 months of its launch.
Not many brands have done a great job at inclusive and diverse marketing like Fenty Beauty has, although, they never fail to include “diversity and inclusivity” in their campaigns. This goes far to tell us how Fenty Beauty is a “show not tell” brand. And again, the brand did just that when it announced its launch in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It’s a great time to be alive and of today, Africans in these countries will be able to walk into a store and have access to Fenty Beauty. What does this mean for Africa and is this the wakeup call the global beauty industry needs?
Will we see a rise in the global beauty industry's entry into the African market? I should think so, the Fenty Effect has that kind of influence. In the coming years, we will very likely see more and more beauty industries walk closely with Fenty and make better on their inclusivity campaigns by setting up in Africa. The surge in these entrances will pique at the curiosity and interest of people in beauty and its significance. More people will be willing to restructure their views of beauty and unlearn what they have originally been made to believe. We will also see more women lean more into their femininity and appearances while feeling seen. It is one of the many achievements of Fenty, with the offers of their diverse products, people began to feel seen, beautiful, and normal.
We should have seen this launch coming when African content creators started collaborating with Fenty Beauty in 2021. However, with this launch, we will see more international and high-end brands work with African creators living in Africa. The familiar influencers known and loved will resonate well with locals than unfamiliar creators. With the collaboration will come improved campaigns and truly inclusive products and services. More brands will also strive to be “show not tell.”
When beauty is concerned, people automatically assume it’s a talk concerning women, but it is not. Man or Woman, we possess beauty, which should be tended to and catered for. With Fenty being a gender-neutral brand, we will see more masculine acceptance of makeup and skincare. More men will take their skin conditions seriously and work actively to improve on it and we will see more women embrace cosmetic skincare and recoil from poorly formulated organic skin remedies that only destroy and bleaches their skin.
I’m not big on high-end or luxury brands but for Rihanna, I’m ready to spend all my non-existent squillions of Naira purchasing her products, in hopes that I will eventually come to her notice, and she will realize I’m the one for her after all. There are many people who also, are not inclined towards high-end products but will make excuses for Rihanna. Technically, we won’t classify her products as high-end, but her name, reputation, and fame change the dynamics. Fenty Beauty products are relatively affordable and cost similarly to the drugstore beauty products we are already used to.
Fenty Beauty is conscious about their brand, from formulation to distribution, they make certain that their products are generally environmentally harm-free, they also have some products which cater to the vegan needs and are keen on eco-friendly products. The African beauty industry can benefit from the impact and take the time to pay attention to their consumer’s needs while also reeling away from environmentally harmful activities and ingredients.
In earlier times, when the world changed, it didn’t always remember to bring Africa along but these days, we are finally getting recognized and seen beyond being the poorest continent and we are ready to for every growth, innovation, and challenge as we gingerly step into the spotlight.