On Sept. 8, pop star and fashion icon Rihanna released her long- awaited Fenty Beauty makeup line. With an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, Fenty Beauty proved to be different from other celebrity makeup lines, making it an overnight success.
Upon hearing about Rihanna’s makeup line months prior to its release, I found myself annoyed and indifferent. After the release of celebrity makeup lines from Kim Kardashian West and Kylie Jenner (both of whom I am fans of,) who time and time again prove that they are not interested in creating products for those with deep, dark complexions, I thought that celebrities had no business being in the makeup world.
While they are both smart women for capitalizing off of their best features (Kim’s “iconic” contour and Kylie’s lips,) we as consumers must keep in mind that these stars spend more time getting their makeup done by professional artists than they do trying new products at Sephora like the rest of us. Making and releasing products that match their pale/tan skin tones and then slapping their names on them is simply easier than studying color theory, undertones, formulas and skin types.
Fast forward to the release of the official Fenty Beauty commercial, which showcased women of various skin tones walking throughout the streets of (presumably) New York City and eventually uniting with Rihanna over their love of lip gloss. I was underwhelmed to say the least. While everyone on social media was praising Rihanna for including a diverse group of women- many of whom, like Asian and hijabi women, are never seen in ad campaigns- I refused to get excited until I first figured out what products were being offered and tested those products myself.
Consider this my formal apology letter to Rihanna. Rihanna, sweetie, I am so sorry for doubting and comparing your efforts to the Kardashians. In one launch, you proved that releasing 40 foundations, cream and powder highlighters, a universal lip gloss, cream contour, blotting powder and sheets and tools is possible. More importantly, you proved that these products could be accessible to the “average” person by releasing your products in Sephora rather than making them online-exclusives bound to be sold out in one hour.
The day Fenty Beauty was released in Sephora stores nationwide, I visited my local Sephora. In the aisles of JCPenney outside of Sephora stood displays of the Fenty Beauty KillaWatt Highlighters and Match Stixs. I was surrounded by other black shoppers in awe and overwhelmed by the number of highlighters and contour sticks available. It never dawned on me to look for the other products.
First, I took a look at the KillaWatt Freestyle Highlighters. Retailing at $34, the powder KillaWatt Freestyle Highlighters are mostly offered in champagne and pink-shaded duos, one shade being more matte and the other obviously more shimmery. However, two of the six KillaWatt Freestyle Highlighters are offered as singles: “Metal Moon,” a pearlish shade, and the metallic gold shade “Trophy Wife,” the most-talked about highlighter. Intrigued but intimidated by “Trophy Wife’s” brightness, I bought the duo “Ginger Binge/Moscow Mule” after achieving a satisfying blush- like swatch on the back of my hand.
But that wasn’t enough for me. After watching more than 15 YouTube reviews the next morning raving about the PRO FILT’R Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, I, to my mother’s dismay, returned to Sephora when they opened their doors at 10 a.m. This time I arrived with no makeup on my face with the intention of being color matched by a Sephora employee.
The employee, modelling “Trophy Wife” on her cheeks and eyes, eagerly and quickly came to my rescue. The process took less than two minutes, and when I was prompted to look in the mirror, I didn’t initially see what she thought was my shade. That’s because the cool shade 440 matched me so perfectly that I thought the swatch was my own untouched skin. Spending another $34 didn’t faze me. Before leaving the store, I splurged on the uniquely-angled, cheek- hugging highlighter brush for $32.
Note: During this Sephora visit, I achieved VIB Rouge status, meaning that I had spent at least $350 dollars on makeup in one calendar year.
Regretting nothing, I went home to put on my Fenty face. After priming my face with Mario Badescu’s rose water (to get in a bougie mood,) I pumped the foundation onto the back of my hand and then proceeded to use an Elf foundation brush to apply it onto my face. After applying two layers, I fell in love with the coverage, skin-like appearance and light-weight feeling. For years I had been using the MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation in the color NC50, and while it matched me well, I had been complacent with its at times cakey and oily finish- horrible for my combination skin. On the contrary, Fenty Beauty’s foundation gave me a natural, slightly dewy “I woke up like this” look.
Next, using the highlighter proved to be more challenging than I had hoped. The highlighter brush, while well-intentioned with its sharp angle, made my highlight (“Moscow Mule”) difficult to blend with its harsh, line- like application. Sweeping with the highlighter brush made the glitter travel further down my cheek. After applying with the brush, I had to use my pinky finger to dab and blend the highlight. Later in the week, I found that using one of my cheap Elf highlighter brushes was much easier. However, the color payoff was strikingly beautiful from a mile away. The other shade in my duo “Ginger Binge” because of its matte finish made a nice, subtle blush.
Overall, I am more than satisfied with my purchases, mostly with the foundation, which I will definitely be buying again. My “Fenty face” made up of only two Fenty Beauty products remained flawless for 12 hours. I plan on buying a Match Stix trio that can be used for highlight, contour and even lipstick and eyeshadow, and the foundation primer next.
As I examine the reason why I am so eager to buy more Fenty Beauty products, I realize that it’s because Rihanna’s belief in inclusivity is genuine, and that sincerity shows in shade range, customer testimonials, especially from those who are albino or deep-toned who before Rihanna’s line had to mix several foundation shades, and Rihanna’s interviews.
As Rihanna said in an interview promoting Fenty Beauty, “In every product, I was like, ‘There needs to be something for a dark skin girl. There needs to be something for a really pale girl. There needs to be something for someone in-between. You want people to appreciate the products and not feel like, ‘Oh, it’s cute, but it only looks good on her.’”
Surprisingly, it doesn’t take a lot of products to achieve a natural, but eye-catching look. All it takes is someone behind the brand to put in the effort to make people of all skin tones feel beautiful. And for that, thank you, Rihanna, for putting in that “work, work, work, work, work.”
Fenty Beauty is available now on the Sephora website and stores nationwide as well as the Fenty Beauty website.