Black Women Love Makeup, But Does The Beauty Industry Love Them Back?

Essence magazine held a "Smart Beauty" panel last week, and WWD has the sad, tragic details:

Because when the question is what kind of experience black women have when shopping the beauty market, the answer is bleak. Stephanie D. Smith writes:

African-American women spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, but shell out 80 percent more money on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care products than the general market, according to the research. That difference comes as African-American women sample many more products to find the ones that are most effective on their skin.

"She spends a lot, but there's little satisfaction. What keeps us buying is the hope that this product will do what it's supposed to do," said [celebrity makeup artist] Sam Fine.

So despite being generally ignored or marginalized by mainstream magazines, black women spend billions of dollars on cosmetics, desperately searching for something that works. According to Smith, Fine also said he believes that the typical African-American shopper is "more likely to buy products from aspirational labels — Chanel lipsticks and Versace perfume, for example — than brands that are associated with celebrities." Could it be because many of the black celebrities who pitch cosmetics — Halle Berry, Beyoncé, Rihanna — represent only a light-skinned sliver of what the general population of African-American women look like?

Fine also noted that older black women are overlooked by the beauty industry: "There's no face of aging in the African-American community," he said. "There's Sharon Stone and Christie Brinkley, but no one who's African-American." Do the cosmetics companies actually believe the old saying "black don't crack?" Or do they honestly have no interest in tapping into that $7.5 billion a year?

Essence Panel Explores Beauty Purchasing [WWD]

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