Rihanna came along about a year ago and revolutionised the beauty industry with her
Rihanna is the cover star for Allure s Best of Beauty edition celebrating one year as a beauty business mogul with her hit line Fenty Beauty. Allure transforms the star in a series of edgy editorials featuring Fenty products.
She is a wizard of reinvention, and every time Rihanna conjures something new, we happily sink further under her spell. This year, with Fenty Beauty, she reinvented the beauty business.
Rihanna has given us so many things. Every summer for over a decade, she blessed us with new anthems for beer-drinking and sex-having and man-slaying. I think she also invented denim? But this year, Rihanna’s already-seismic influence exploded with the launch of Fenty Beauty, and its rallying cry for inclusivity in beauty was heard around the world.
The brand's expansive (and successful) foundation shade-range not only set a new standard for cosmetics companies but also brought women of color to the forefront of the beauty conversation, making thousands of consumers feel heard and seen in that enthralling, palpable, and exciting way that a Top 40 song simply cannot. For this, we wanted to hear the voices of those people, so we asked a few to pen letters to Rihanna.
When I was a model, back in the early ’90s, it was really tough to find my own foundation, or to have makeup artists understand my skin tone at all, so I mixed my own and made it work. I ended up doing makeup for all of the other girls, and that’s how I became a makeup artist. (For a while, I assisted Bobbi Brown, and then I worked with her as the global head of artistry for her brand.) In 2007, I launched my own brand, a series of makeup sticks in a variety of shades, called Color by Cynde Watson. I thought it would be cool for them to be dual-ended, a warm and cool shade. Undertones are everything for women of color. That was key. I went to HSN with it and started selling it.
But it didn’t work out. It was too ahead of its time. First of all, being a black woman selling to all women — it was referred to as a line for women of color. And I was like, “No, it’s not, it’s for all women.” It was so crazy for people to wrap their heads around that in 2007. Ten years later, it’s finally time.
Rihanna, I truly commend your fearlessness and passion to continue the amazing fight to normalize inclusivity in the beauty industry. To be fair, there are a few key makeup brands that I recognize and appreciate from “back in the day” whose missions were and still are to celebrate multiple skin tones, but I credit you for breaking boundaries and shaking things up in today’s beauty space with your intense conviction and celebrity influence. You are inspiring consumers, retailers, and future beauty brands to think globally and recognize that all skin tones matter.
And that’s a beautiful thing.
I met you during the Fenty Puma Season 2 show in Paris — it was my first time out of the country. I always thought your shit was made for me, and I wanted nothing more than to model for you, so hearing that I was cast in your show had me ecstatic. That you continued to use me was just surreal — business turned family real quick.
You introduced me to a more mainstream level of exposure. I was famous for all of the wrong reasons before. People loved the idea of Slick, but you gave me countless platforms to let people actually fall in love with who I am. You made inclusivity cool, and that’s revolutionary. Now people are putting money toward inclusion, rather than putting money toward a certain supremacy. It’s a beautiful switch in pace. You have my loyalty until the end of time. My gratitude for the growth, love, and support you’ve put in my life will never subside. You are a true angel and the most multifaceted, immortal boss I’ve ever met. I’m so thankful for you. But you knew dat.— Slick Woods, model
When we met at your Fenty Beauty launch in London, I gushed at you like a proud auntie, as I have been fighting for diversity in the beauty industry for over 18 years.
But it goes deeper than that for me. Fenty Beauty has helped to heal my 14-year-old broken heart. As a teen, I would go to beauty counters filled with excitement, wanting to express myself through playing with colors. Instead, I was shooed away by beauty consultants who looked like they belonged in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands — all lacquered bangs and blue eye shadow. They told me, “There’s nothing for you here, go to the back of the beauty hall and try and find Fashion Fair.” When I asked for blush, I was told, “Black girls don’t do pink.” I was told, “You’re so dark, you don’t need foundation. This is not for you.” It made me feel like I was nothing. I was angry and frustrated that they were telling me that the world of glamour, power, and acceptance wasn’t for me. The beauty apartheid that I felt trapped in was the last bastion of open segregation. I wasn’t welcome, and I certainly wasn’t being catered to by major beauty brands with foundations that matched my rich, deep skin tone.
So when I saw your campaign with its collective of powerful women of all shades, backgrounds, and religions, I shed a tear. My twin daughters are seven, and they are of mixed heritage with lighter skin and looser curls. The world is changing for them. At three, they used to cry that they wanted yellow hair like Elsa from Frozen. Now when we walk into beauty halls together, they see faces that look like them shining down and they feel proud and accepted.— Ateh Jewel, writer and blogger