Within the past few months, articles have popped up discussing the rise of a globalized world, women of color, and their noticeable increase in spending power in the world of cosmetics. Beauty Inc magazine, a publication that provides a behind the scenes look at all things beauty in the U.S and other countries, fastcompany.com and bloomberg.com both, publications focused on business, technology, and design have all published these articles to name a few. Fast Company’s article, “The L’Oreal Chemist Who’s Changing The Face Of Makeup”, and Bloomberg Business’s article, “The World’s Biggest Cosmetics Brands Are Finally Courting Minorities” both mention that in 2014 the “multicultural beauty products market grew 3.7 percent in the U.S., outpacing the growth of the overall market for cosmetics and toiletries. This data means what exactly? About ten years ago, I remember reading an article in Essence magazine, a publication that caters to women of color and especially black women, that provided some very similar statistical data. The article stated that women of color out spent every other demographic in the cosmetics industry by large margins. Lets take it back even more.
In 1905, Madam C. J. Walker went down in history as arguabley the first female millionaire in America. She made her fortune off of you guessed it, the cosmetic industry. Recently I learned that before she made her millions, she had a mentor who also was African American, and also, was a self made millionaire. Both of these women made their fortunes off of creating, manufacturing, and selling hair care products to women of African descent. For those of us who remember high school history class, we remember that on those two pages that covered black history in our American history books, that black folks were not doing so well economically in the early 1900’s. I mean, there was the “discovering of America” by Christopher Columbus, a strange “disappearance” of Native Americans, which left none of the Native American women to buy cosmetics, and then us. When I say us, I mean Africans brought over as slaves to “help out” on plantations and in urban settings leaving us strapped for cash to say the least. Even given those circumstances, shortly after slavery, somehow black women all over the U.S were able to make not one but two black women millionaires and several of their employees financially “comforatable” by purchasing their beauty products.
In summation, I would love to give a great big You can’t be serious shout out to all of these publications and cosmetic giants that have finally decided to stop ignoring me and women who look like me. It has been proven by a ton of geologists and archeologists and anthropologists that we all originated from Africa. It has also been proven that the remains of the oldest human belong to an African woman. What does that suggest L’Oreal and Estee Lauder? It suggests that when Cleopatra, also African, was busy enticing Ceasar we had incredible spending power. It suggests that when the queen of Sheba was busy running an empire, she might have wanted to even out her skin with some clay that matched her complexion. It suggests that Madam C.J. Walker knew that if she created hair care products that worked on her self that she could probably sell them to other women whose hair texture was similar. It means that Lupita, Taraji, Traci Ross, Jennifer Lopez, Coretta King, Assata Shakur, Pocahontas, YoNasDa Lonewolf, Vera Wang, etc … all deserve to not be ignored!!
Last question, since our spending power is proving to be the main catalyst for major cosmetic companies to finally see us, does that mean that money trumps race in the world of cosmetics?