Long Island Makeup Artists of Color Speak Up About Inclusivity in the Beauty Industry

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On Sept. 3, actress, singer and producer, Selena Gomez launched her cosmetic brand, Rare Beauty, which is exclusive only on the brand’s website and Sephora. The brand’s mission statement promotes uniqueness and supporting customers of all ages, backgrounds, sexual orientations and more. The brand also advocates for mental health with its “Rare Impact” which has a goal of donating $100 million over a 10 year span to mental health services. 

Gomez, however, is not the first celebrity to launch an “inclusive” makeup line. Rihanna launched her makeup line, Fenty Beauty, in September of 2017, which also has the mission statement of including everyone with all skin types and tones. Both these brands have over 40 shades of foundation and concealer, detailing undertones with them as well, and run by women of color Gomez also designed her packaging so people with arthritis, which she once struggled with due to lupus, can easily open it. Latina makeup artist (MUA) from Brentwood, Michele Hernandez, tried out Gomez’s brand recently. 

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“It’s a really nice, setting foundation,” said Hernandez. “Their blushes are great too. It’s so nice the way that she even made her packaging because it’s supposed to be designed for people who have like weaker hands so that they can actually open the packaging and they can access it easier.”

Just like Gomez, Rihanna uses Fenty as a platform for philanthropic work as well with the Clara Lionel Foundation

Other competing brands, like Cover Girl, began launching 40 shade products after the Fenty launch. 

MUA’s of color, like Danielle Burney from Mastic Beach, were ecstatic and proud Rihanna was advocating for all makeup lovers to be represented.

“Here we have this icon who is going to put us on the map,” said Burney. “She sees us and she is going to make sure we have what we need. For it to be a high-end brand that was really catering to us, I thought that was big.”

Being more inclusive means more customers willing to buy products. However, some MUA’s question whether this is genuine or just a marketing tactic. 

“I feel like as soon as Fenty came out, then you see other brands kind of jumping in,” said Shay Nieves, a Puerto Rican Long Island traveling MUA. “I don’t know if it was as genuine as Fenty was, but now you see a different, more of a shade range. I still think there’s work to be done. But I think it’s starting to improve a little bit more.”

Some other makeup artists of color, like Amber Taylor, a Long Island makeup artist of Amber Taylor Artistry and Garden City N.Y. media, feel that adding extra shades aren’t always successful.

“I feel like these brands, they make extra shades, but it’s really not working for us,” said Taylor. “So part of it being inclusive, to me, feels like you have to actually understand what that consumer wants.”

When Taylor refers to “us” she means people of color in the beauty community, like herself. The U.S. personal care market, which includes makeup, skincare, etc. was valued at over $134 billion dollars in 2016, and estimated to grow by 2025. Although revenue is growing in the industry, the price of makeup ranges from brand to brand. 

Through the makeup community, there are high end brands like Pat McGrath Labs and affordable brands like Juvia’s Place and Danessa Myricks, who is from Long Island, that are owned by women of color. MUA’s like Valerie Mardi from Hempstead, prefer more expensive makeup due to it applying to the skin better than lower-end brands. 

“The lower end products would come off gray and I’m darker,” said Mardi. “I had to find colors that had wider ranges. To me it’s always the higher end, and I like the quality.”

The beauty community is advocating to continue inclusivity in brand and products, but also for equal representation of staff at beauty brands. This summer, Instagram account @pullupforchange began calling out businesses to reveal their employee demographics. Beauty brands were part of this as well. 


Kylie Cosmetics revealed that a little over 50% of her employees are white and 13% black. Morphe put out that their staff are made up of 62% people of color and 14% being black. Tarte Cosmetics revealed 42% of staff are people of color and six percent Black. 


Certified MUA, Juliana Fink from Centereach, believes social media is a powerful tool for marketing makeup. She believes that there are ways brands can utilize this to be genuinely inclusive of everyday people and different skin types and tones. 

“I feel like if they try to add more people that are more like everyday people, I think that will be a big leap and also including different skin tones to show in their social media,” said Fink. “I think once the Black Lives Matter thing came out, a lot of them [brands] just put a Black person up there just to say that they were supporting it. But again, I don’t think it kept going after a while.”

All of these MUA’s are advocating for investing into minority, female owned beauty brands, especially those who are still considered small businesses. The following brands were recommended by all six MUA’s and are all owned by women of color. 

  1. 1. Danessa Myricks Beauty
  2. 2. Black Opal Beauty
  3. 3. Fenty Beauty
  4. 4. Rare Beauty
  5. 5. Pat McGrath Labs 
  6. 6. Beauty Bakerie  
  7. 7. Juvia’s Place 
  8. 8. Fenty Beauty
  9. 9. Rare Beauty

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