Over the past few years, a rallying cry for a widening of beauty ideals has been sweeping the beauty industry. From gender identity and age inclusivity to skin color and condition, consumers have been calling on brands to update the products they sell and who they sell them to. Brands are heeding the call, from indie marketplaces to mass retailers like Sephora and Ulta, who both pledged in February 2021 to double the number of Black-owned brands on their shelves by the end of year.

Neutrogena unveiled a new brand mission “for people with skin” In April 2021. The 91-year-old beauty brand’s refreshed purpose is meant to combat inequality in skincare as it pertains to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and access to health care. “We want to be there for all skin, and all people,” said Kerry Sullivan, general manager of Neutrogena.

Vaseline is working to make dermatology and skincare more equitable. The brand partnered with Black Entertainment Television (BET) in March 2021 to promote its “Equitable Skin for All” campaign, first launched in November 2020. The campaign focuses on three key areas to promote equality in skincare: education for skincare professionals to better treat, diagnose and care for skin of color; resources that connect consumers with medical professionals who specifically understand their cultural, physical, and mental health needs; and facilitating access to care through a network of nonprofit health centers and clinics that provide affordable, comprehensive, and culturally competent services to those who need it most.

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Tula #EmbraceYourSkin

Tula Skincare launched the #EmbraceYourSkin campaign in April 2021 to promote skin tone inclusivity, body positivity, natural beauty, and ageless beauty. As part of the campaign, Tula partnered with five influencers who are “redefining the concept of beauty in today’s world,” said Savannah Sachs, CEO of Tula. Each collaborator helped create a skincare kit that reflects their unique identity, catering to a range of skin tones, types and ages. “By creating an inclusive space where everyone can openly explore and share their experiences,” Sachs said, “we hope that this will help others to discover how to love their skin and embrace what makes them different.”

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Sofia Grahn @isofiagrahn, courtesy of Instagram
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Alongside brand initiatives, a rising class of influencers promoting heritage and skin positivity are shaking up the beauty world. Beauty bibles including Cosmopolitan and Glamour have recently highlighted “skin-positive” influencers—like Sofia Grahn and Rocio Cervantes—who are embracing breakouts, scars and texture, reflecting the shifting tone of the beauty industry. And, as CNN reported in April, “on deeply personal terms, Asian Americans are disrupting the beauty industry…with a wealth of products and more inclusive beauty standards.” Omani influencer Ayesha Amar is working to “normalize all kinds of skin,” and Deepica Mutyala founded Live Tinted “to showcase deeper skin tones,” she told CNN. “I wanted people like me to feel they were represented by this brand.”

These brand moves and media coverage reflect a larger movement in the beauty category—one that does away with the idea of “normal” beauty. The concept of a one-size-fits-all beauty ideal has been thrown out the window—and there’s no going back.

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