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*Sourced from courtesy of Jessica Felicio*

*Sourced from courtesy of Jessica Felicio*

What You Need to Know About DEI in Beauty

What does the landscape of the beauty industry look like in 2023? Here’s our crash course.


*picture sourced from (courtesy of Content Pixie)*

   The urge to celebrate Blackness is at an all-time high in February. Ornami loves the annual observance of Black History Month and strives to educate our community throughout the 28 (occasionally 29) days. This month is not only the perfect time to educate yourself on the plight and history of our people, but also innovate for a more fruitful future. When it comes to creative expression, especially beauty, fashion, art, and music, it’s no secret that Black culture moves the needle. It’s actually become quite common to see the influence of African-American culture in many different industries – beauty being one of them. Every market claims to be improving their efforts to reduce the inequity that exists within their structures, but how are they really? Let’s dive into what’s happening amongst diversity, equity, and inclusion in the beauty world.

Black Women and Beauty

Beauty rituals and practices are another way to contribute to one’s sense of identity. From personal makeup looks to intricate skincare routines, beauty and style is a way to affirm who you are. There’s an art to one’s personal style and practices, and it’s not taboo to see similarities within ethnic groups. For example, you have teeth blackening in Southeast Asia and Oceania, facial tattoos in Morocco, lip tattoos in New Zealand, and so much more all around the world.

In Black culture, beauty has played a monumental role for generations. We’ve expressed ourselves through these practices while also immersing ourselves within the community. The salon, skincare teachings from mom, and makeup lessons from big sis are all areas of refuge when society excludes us. ‘Black is beautiful’ was coined in the ‘60s with the intention to bring pride to the natural essence of Black skin, hair, and people; our style and beauty practices quickly became politicized during this time. Black hair was deemed ‘unprofessional’, and fashion statements like striking nail art was perceived to be ‘ghetto’ or ‘tacky’. You see – the irony of it all is now Black women and our favorite beauty looks have entered the mainstream and been whitewashed. Despite our influence, Black people are still extremely underrepresented in the beauty industry. There’s been some strides in recent years, but it is still clear to see the inequity that exists for Black brands and consumers. 

The Numbers

The beauty industry is a $60 billion business. Like many other markets, the Black community has a pretty significant buying power. McKinsey & Company reported that Black Americans spend $6.6 billion on beauty and represent 11.1% of the total US market. Unsurprisingly, despite the dollars spent and trends that started with us, Black consumers and CEOs are still underserved. The following statistics are just a needle in the haystack when it comes to inequity lingering within the beauty industry:

  • Black consumers are three times more likely to be dissatisfied than non-Black consumers with their options for hair care, skin care, and makeup.
  • On average, Black consumers travel 3.36 miles to a specialty beauty store, about 21 percent further than White consumers.
  • Only 4 to 5 percent of all employees in the US beauty industry are Black.
  • Black brands in the beauty industry raise an average of $13 million in venture capital, substantially less than the $20 million that non-Black brands raise. Yet today, the median revenue of those Black brands is 89 times higher than what non-Black beauty brands return over the same period.
  • 12 percent of Black women in the beauty industry say they have a voice.
  • 50 percent of Black women and 21 percent of Hispanic women have experienced open discrimination in the workplace.

Black beauty brand owners face many barriers when trying to build their companies from the ground up. Although Black consumers say to trust these brands more than others, they [black beauty brands] are still only making up less than 7 percent of shelf space in retail stores. Slow progress may be being made, but our founders and CEOs are innovating daily for the needs of consumers and continue to have to work to go against structures that have been in place for decades.

Reimagining Diversity and Inclusion

Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty in 2017. Her makeup line featured 40 different foundation shades and completely transformed what inclusion meant in the beauty space. This is what we mean when we say diversity and inclusion is not difficult for companies, but is merely about the intent amongst leaders. Following the unfortunate death of George Floyd and the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, there was an insurgence of companies announcing efforts to fight systemic racism. This sounds appealing on the surface, but years later, we can now see how a great deal of this could have been performative. One can easily spot performative diversity through the following: only declaring commitment to DEI during precedents, only supporting popular movements, partnering with brands with a history of racism, no diversity in management teams, and more. 

The truth is, a diverse workplace and team can provide tons of benefits for an organization. For starters, employees are more likely to stay at their jobs and enjoy coming to work in an inclusive workplace. Research has also shown companies see an increase in revenue when they close racial gaps. Not to mention, the greater readiness to innovate from employees and an engaged workplace environment. Beauty brands can absolutely see positive change in their organizations when they begin to alter their diversity efforts. Diversity and inclusion can take your company to even greater lengths, so how do you plan on working to break the barriers?

There’s no better way to end Black History Month than soaking up some knowledge from your favs at The Glow Guide. The beauty industry is far from easy to navigate, and as a Black and Latinx-woman owned brand, we’re still finding our footing. DEI can be an uncomfortable conversation for some, but we’re sure we all know how it’s absolutely necessary. Our work to inspire is rooted in wanting to be the change we want to see and the change our ancestors wish they could have experienced. Be sure to end this BHM with a bang, and feel free to give our February ‘23 playlist a listen!