Rihanna Alters Makeup Norms with 40 Foundation Shades in New Line Fenty Beauty

Last week, Rihanna teased makeup lovers with her new venture into the cosmetic world, “Fenty Beauty” on her social media accounts. Her campaign ads on her Instagram foster the multiplicity of her brand releasing on September 8th at Sephora retail stores and online. What’s most eye catching is the campaign that features 15 models of different ethnicities, including models; Duckie Thot, Selena Forrest, Slick Woods and Muslim model Halima Aden, who wore a hijab in the ad. The collection will feature Shimmery duo highlight palates, with creative names such as Ginger binge and Moscow Mule, a line of Match Stix (lipstick) in various shades, and more. Notably, the most anticipated feature of this cosmetic line is the whooping 40 shades of foundations Rihanna has packaged with her brand. But what exactly does this mean for the diversity of the beauty world?

Partnering with Sephora allows women of all shades to use their Color IQ system to find their perfect shade of Fenty Beauty foundation. This system is a handheld camera device that takes photos of several places on the skin allowing a precise match of any makeup brand. Not only does Color IQ find matches for foundation, but it also explores the perfect concealer and lip shades all offered in Rihanna’s beauty line. This can combat the horrors of women wearing the wrong shade from light tones in African American albino women to darker shades in our melanin goddesses. Fenty Beauty offers women of darker skin and light skin tones the wide variety of makeup shades that mainstream beauty products fails to achieve.

The lack of diversity in the mainstream beauty industry has always been problematic. Finding makeup to fit their unique complexions has caused distress to the point of distrust in some mainstream products, but we hope to find relief in Fenty Beauty. Other ambassadors in makeup have had struggles with their own clients in finding their correct shades including Hip-Hop legend Queen Latifah. In 2006, she collaborated with makeup empire Cover Girl as a Brand Ambassador. When she first joined forces with Cover Girl, she noticed that their products were not flattering on women of brown skin. She remembered them being “ASHY” and leaving a gray undertone on the skin. In a interview with HOT 97, Queen Latifah spoke candidly about the process she went through with Cover Girl, in order to make her QUEEN collection more suitable for women of color.

…The first thing we did was go to the chemist and got rid of that ashy stuff that makes black girls look gray. They weren’t the tones that made our skin look the way it should look…We just didn’t have enough shades offered to us. I figured well if I’m a CoverGirl, I need to try to make this happen. We met with them, they were into the idea and we created the line wit the 12 different shades.

Along with brown skin struggles, there have been many articles have been written by women who speak on the trials and errors of finding the right makeup shade for their undertones. Cosmopolitan published an article in 2015 titled, “Why Are Women Of Color Still Having Trouble Finding Foundation?,” written by Andrea Arterberry. She wrote about her disappointing beauty trials with different brands as a fair skin woman, a point of view far less explored. Arterberry, also dealt with the excruciatingly “Trashy ashy” look, that most women of brown skin have to endure. In the article, Arterberry also spoke about darker hues a Instagram post from a South Sudanese model, Nykhor Paul who asked a very valid question about the lack of diversity in the makeup industry:

“Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional [fashion] show when all the white girls don’t have to do anything but show up?

Dear white people in the fashion world! Please don't take this the wrong way but it's time you people get your shit right when it comes to our complexion! Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional show when all the other white girls don't have to do anything but show up wtf! Don't try to make me feel bad because I am blue black its 2015 go to Mac, Bobbi Brown, Makeup forever, Iman cosmetic, black opal, even Lancôme and Clinique carried them plus so much more. there's so much options our there for dark skin tones today. A good makeup artist would come prepare and do there research before coming to work because often time you know what to expect especially at a show! Stop apologizing it's insulting and disrespectful to me and my race it doesn't help, seriously! Make an effort at least! That goes for NYC, London, Milan, Paris and Cape Town plus everywhere else that have issues with black skin tones. Just because you only book a few of us doesn't mean you have the right to make us look ratchet. I'm tired of complaining about not getting book as a black model and I'm definitely super tired of apologizing for my blackness!!!! Fashion is art, art is never racist it should be inclusive of all not only white people, shit we started fashion in Africa and you modernize and copy it! Why can't we be part of fashion fully and equally?

A post shared by Nykhor-Nyakueinyang Paul 🇸🇸🇺🇸 (@nykhor) on

Balanda Atis, a chemist in Research and Innovation at L’Oréal USA, spoke about traveling to different regions of the U.S., and South Africa, to collect different skin tone measurements to accommodate shades suitable for all skin tones. She is also the manager of L’Oréal Women of color lab in New Jersey.

“I aspire to not only create better foundation products for women of color, but to create better products in general. Whether it’s a foundation, whether it’s a lipstick, an eyeshadow, if its learning how to better customize and personalize products for women, I aspire to go to that next level. I want to see what is out there that allows me to continue to grow.”

Whether you are fair skinned like writer Andrea Arteberry, a brown hue like Queen Latifah or strutting darker hues like Model Nykoh Paul, you have experienced at one time or another the constant issue of finding the right makeup shade which Fenty Beauty helps to eliminate.  Real diversity isn’t just having a woman of color as the spokesperson of a campaign, it also includes having the makeup shades available to compliment the recognition of the change of times. This is something we know Fenty Beauty will bring to the table as Rihanna continues to diversify mainstream makeup.


A big believer in the advancement of the culture, Megan Ambers supports celebrating the trailblazers in the game. Prior to starting her own pop culture website, Megan worked a number of years as both a staff writer and Public Relations specialist. It's time to push society forward and embrace a new way of thinking.

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