Audience Development

What Beauty Brands Can Learn From Influencers About Diversity

By Linda Freund · September 17, 2019

What Beauty Brands Can Learn From Influencers About Diversity

Beauty guru Jackie Aina took to YouTube earlier this year to talk about the diversity problem across beauty brands and the makeup industry in a video that drew 1.2M views and 148K engagements.

“You’ve got makeup brands that will launch 20 shades of beige. You’ve got eggshell, you’ve got cream, you have iPhone-extension cord,” Aina said to her 3.1M subscribers. “But then they’ll throw in two dark shades, like mahogany and espresso, and then be like… here, just to shut you all up.”

Aina is one of a handful of diverse beauty influencers on social video feeds who are urging brands to be more inclusive. Their message is resonating with audiences to the tune of billions of combined views and engagements annually.

The influencers’ collective plea: beauty brands should be inclusive not only on paper, but in their actual product lines. After all, foundation is not one tone fits all. 

And makeup tutorials that promise “eyes that pop” can mean something completely different based on your skin tone, cultural background, gender, and body shape.

So, how do beauty brands heed this call? It’s easy: through influencer collaborations. There is a surplus of successful content creators and homegrown makeup gurus to partner with and learn from.

Here’s our breakdown of some of the leading diversity influencers to follow in the beauty space today. 

Jackie Aina Is a Top Diversity Advocate

Black beauty influencer Jackie Aina earned 61.1M views and 2.3M engagements in the past 90 days for makeup tutorials geared towards women with darker complexions.

A YouTuber for more than a decade, Aina is known for her blunt product reviews and tutorials which integrate deeper commentary on racial disparities in the beauty world.

In one of her most-viewed videos to date, Jackie covers “The Worst Beauty Brands EVER For POC!” (2.8M views and 123K engagements). The video puts products designed for darker complexions to the test, to gauge which brands are worth her audiences’ time and money.

Fellow successful influencers in this space include Alissa Ashley, Nyma Tang, Monica Veloz, and Ace Watson, a Sephora brand ambassador.

Plus-Sized Beauty Guru Jah Embraces Body Positivity

Plus-sized makeup maven Jah got 4.9M views and 415K engagements in the past 90 days. Hailing from Australia, Jah promotes self-love with high-glam tutorials.

She encourages women to stand out with wild colors from electric purple to sunset-colored eye shadows and embraces all-things glitter. Nothing like bold and daring looks on the outside to inspire supreme confidence on the inside.

Muslim Beauty Vloggers Inspire Glamor

UK-based Muslim influencer Hani Hans garners thousands of views and engagement on Instagram, her platform of choice. Hans inspires Muslim girls to embrace their beauty, celebrating both their hijab and glamorous face makeup.

View this post on Instagram

I know I’ve been MIA, but I’m back ???? Products used: @nipandfab Orange corrector, Friday feels eyeshadow palette, basic beach blush palette, U ok Hun blush palette, foundation in shade 45 & multi-tasking fixing spray. @benefitcosmeticsuk Hello happy foundation. @ctilburymakeup Genius magic powder. @maccosmeticsuk Antique velvet lipstick. @hudabeauty @hudabeautyshop Power bullet matte lipstick in pool party. ~ #tutorial #makeuptutorial #wakeupandmakeup #maquiagemx #wamfam #maryhadalittleglam #makeupvideoss #make4glam #hudabeauty #pressplay #shophudabeauty #hypnaughtypower #allmodernmakeup #transformation #makegirlz #makeuptutorialx0x #fullfacemakeup #maccosmeticsuk #bretmansvanity #fakeupfix #universodamaquiagem_oficial #makeupfanatic1 #fakeupfix #universomakeup #1minutemakeup #hudabeautypowerbullet

A post shared by H A N I ???? (@hanihanss) on

Hans does this by offering makeup tips on how to express a strong personality. This includes bright glossy lips and a focus on one’s eyes, with smokey eyeshadow, darkened brows, or cat-eyed liners that truly accentuate your stare.

Hans joins the ranks of Muslim beauty blogger Nura Afia, who is one of the faces of CoverGirl’s So Lashy ad campaign.

Read our Q&A with Benefit Cosmetics to learn more about the brand’s multi-faceted global beauty strategy! 

Male Beauty Influencers Rule Social Video Feeds

Male beauty YouTuber James Charles scored 178.9M views and 11.5M engagements in the past 90 days. Charles provides a safe (and entertaining) space for men who want to experiment with makeup.

“When I get messages from [men] saying that my wearing makeup inspired them to do the same and feel more confident, it makes me so happy,” Charles said in a recent interview with Allure.

Charles, who is making waves as a CoverGirl spokesman, publishes videos that normalize the concept of makeup for men, such as his search for the perfect makeup concealer(15.2M views and 831K engagements). Charles’s compatriots in the space include Patrick Starr and Jeffree Star.

Here’s more info on the groundswell of enigmatic male beauty influencers

Influencers Understand Diversity. How Well Do Beauty Brands?

Social video feeds are teeming with makeup tutorials. Brands and influencers uploaded 25.8K videos in 2019 thus far, raking in 1.4 billion views and 83.1M engagements across platforms.

Beauty has been at the forefront of video (ahead of other content genres) for quite some time, notes Toto Haba, SVP of Global Digital at Benefit Cosmetics, a LVMH subsidiary, in a recent webinar with Tubular.

There’s a clear reason why: there’s power in seeing a product on a person who looks like you.

“It’s a very visual product; you want to see how it looks on you, you want to see how it looks on other people,” Haba said. The impressive video performance of diverse influencers exemplifies this.

As such, beauty brands must constantly take the influencer pulse and figure out ways to integrate successes into their media strategies.

“What you can learn from these other industry players is look at how they set themselves up for success and follow that,” Haba said.

In the case of beauty, brand videos that feature more diverse people are resonating. In 2019 so far, makeup brands have accounted for 1630 beauty video uploads.

Among them, the top 10 makeup tutorials regularly featured diverse people, including this Latinx cateye tutorial published by Mexico-based B’Glam (#1) and this concealer how-to for deeper complexions published by Fenty by Rihanna (#5).

And last year, the high-performing Vogue “Beauty Secrets” series featured “Rihanna’s Epic 10-Minute Guide to Going Out Makeup”, which earned 24.2M YouTube views and an average V3 of 5.8M.

The tutorial generated nearly 6x the platform’s average engagement rate, indicating there is clearly a yearning in video feeds for diverse voices and beauty tips for different ethnic backgrounds.

Takeaway: The Demand is Totally There. Are Major Beauty Brands Getting the Memo?

There is clearly interest for diverse voices on social video feeds. But when it comes to product lines, store shelves still have limited supply for darker and mixed complexions.

Of late, only a handful of brands have woken up to this truth. The ones that have are winning in this retail market.

In 2017, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty released a 40-shade foundation range, one-quarter of which were designed for darker-skinned women. Stores sold out swiftly after the launch. The brand plans to up its shade count to 50 in January.

In what’s been dubbed the Fenty effect, other brands started adding to their color palette. Mac, for example, has expanded its foundation offerings to 60 shades.

But it takes more than just adding darker shades to be inclusive. It’s all about the right kind of color mixes, variety, and undertones that make for an optimal product.

In 2018, Jackie Aina partnered with Too Faced to address this. The influencer helped design nine colors to add to the makeup brand’s Born This Way foundation line. Ganache, the darkest shade in the new collection, sold out instantly.

Aina has just collaborated with Anastasia Beverly Hills on a 14-shade eyeshadow palette with colors designed to complement deeper complexions.

YouTube beauty vlogger Alissa Ashley has always had trouble finding her right shade, often having to mix foundations to get her honey-like undertone just right. Last year, the creator partnered with NYX Professional Makeup to help the brand design in-between shades (with realistic undertones) to improve their Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Full Coverage Foundation range. Now she and others finally have a blend that works for them.

Clearly, input from creators on important product decisions can put brands in better touch with their consumers in addition to impacting their bottom line.

More beauty brands would benefit from partnering with diverse influencers in both video campaigns and in backroom product design. Because when makeup companies give influencers a seat at the beauty table, beautiful things can happen.

Learn more about the latest trends in beauty video.

Be ahead of the curve in
the age of video.