People • Inspiration
Diversity Isn't Black & White: Listening to Asian Beauty Advocates
Apr.14.2022By Boulevard Staff
Asian beauty is not getting the attention it deserves and needs, and it’s time to put that to a halt.
If you thought the days of beauty being a white-focused industry were long gone, we have some bad news for you. Though we have made some progress in being more inclusive of diversity when it comes to the promotion of the beauty industry as well as the products themselves, we still have a long way to go.
Today we are looking at the perspectives of some individuals who work in the beauty industry and are focusing their efforts on bringing more Asian inclusivity into that world. This market has been grossly overlooked and deserves recognition.
What Asian beauty advocates have to say
It’s no secret that Asians are underrepresented in beauty and fashion campaigns, but the issue extends beyond that. They are also underrepresented when it comes to beauty product design. For example, it can be challenging to find makeup to match Asian skin tones, as brands typically focus on the highest-selling shades.
However, some brands have done a great job of including a wide range of shades. A prime example of this is Fenty, which offers 50 different shades of its foundation, While we certainly want to praise this inclusivity, it’s also important to recognize that doing this isn’t possible for smaller indie makeup brands. They simply don’t have the budget for that many different products and SKUs.
This is the case for the creator of Orcé, Yu-Chen Shih. She recognized the massive gap in products that worked for Asian skin, which is “structurally different from other ethnicities.” Products did not exist that were made specifically to highlight the beauty of Asian skin, even in countries such as Japan and Korea. Instead, these countries used products that worked to cover up the natural skin tone with other products.
However, with the creation of her line of beauty products tailored specifically to Asian skin needs, Shih may be the catalyst of some majorly positive changes in the beauty industry. And she’s got Neiman Marcus on her side to help. The retailer launched her line last year, and she is thrilled to have “found a retailer who sees the value in a brand like Orcé.”
But high-profile BIPOC-owned and/or represented brands aren’t enough by themselves to make the necessary changes in the industry. Priyanka Ganjoo, creator of South Asian-focused beauty brand Kulfi recognizes that there is “limited space for only a number of BIPOC-created brands and products,” and that “isn’t enough for the industry to be truly representative.” Though there are over a billion South Asians across the globe, Ganjoo saw that beauty brands were not acknowledging this population, along with many others.
The lack of representation when it comes to Asian beauty does not exist only in the world of makeup, but in the world of hair as well. It seems there is even less acknowledgment of Asian culture in the hair industry, as shared by Daniel Martin, makeup artist and Global Director of Artistry and Education at Tatcha. He is very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of a brand like Tatcha that helps bring awareness to diversity issues and sees that “Everyone has a voice, we must find the courage to use it to be heard.”
How to make change
By supporting smaller brands such as Orcé and Kulfi, you open up the doors for additional smaller indie beauty brands to succeed in creating and selling products that speak to all different races.
While some retailers are dedicating part of their products to Black-owned brands, this is not the case for Asian-owned companies. We all need to support a broader definition of inclusive beauty, especially when it comes to stocking the shelves in our businesses.
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