What Clean Beauty Brands Can Learn From Fenty Beauty

Rihanna recently celebrated one year since the launch of her makeup line Fenty Beauty. We think this is the perfect time to share why we believe it is the best makeup launch we have seen in a very long time and share what clean makeup brands can learn from it.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! We must really be losing it to be suggesting that a clean makeup brand can learn something from one that is not, but stay with us.

According to Nielson, “In 2017, products featuring natural claims represented 3.1% of the U.S. personal care market, generating $1.3 billion in annual sales last year. That’s up from 2.1% of the market in 2013 (representing sales of $230 million). Comparatively, beauty has been slower to go natural (natural products currently make up 1.4% of the market), but sales are growing quicker than in personal care.” Basically, the beauty industry is not shifting to cleaner products as quickly as personal care, but it is growing at a faster rate.

If there is abundant opportunity in the beauty industry, what is stalling the growth of the natural segment as compared to the natural segment penetration in personal care? This is where Fenty Beauty comes in. What makes it so good and why should clean makeup brands learn from it?

We acknowledge that a huge contributor to the success of the Fenty Beauty brand is that it was created by a megastar who also has considerable financial backing. That said, it is still possible to learn from their approach and apply these strategies on a scale that is achievable for your business.

The Lip Bar
Rituel de Fille
  1. Offering diverse shade ranges from the start. When we first launched Coup de Coiff, we were already using clean skincare products, but had not found any clean makeup brands that truly provided us with the complexion and pigmented products for our skin tone. It was something we believed in, that the existing makers did not think we were a part of. Thanks to this, we learned how to make a basic face powder as a DIY.

    Fenty launched with 40 diverse shades, providing options for the palest and deepest skin tones. The key takeaway for us is that paler and deeper skin tones should not be an afterthought because it is a trend, or added later when you feel like it. According to Nielson, “…the number of colors available on shelves in facial cosmetics alone has grown 22% over the last five years. This growth has outpaced that of new product development for cosmetics by 7-fold.”

    Even if you are starting with 5 shades, because as a new brand that's all you can do, make it 5 diverse shades. One brand that does this effectively and affordably, and did it this way from the start, is The Ordinary.

  2. Show us what's possible. When Fenty launched many people were excited, but many were also confused. They weren't sure what to do with some of the shades or how some of the products worked. The Fenty team did an amazing job of creating imagery and producing content to show people new ways of using and applying makeup on a multitude of skin tones. They pushed us to try it this way or that way, and many of us did just that! We learned to love shades we never would have considered wearing before. They showed us that there was no such thing as being too pale or too dark to rock whatever color excites your senses. A clean brand that does this very well is the Lipbar.

    Using Fenty products has encouraged us to step outside of our comfort zones and try new things with makeup, inspiring creativity in all of us. Also, there are some brands who do this, but it seems like a huge commitment to buy into an occasional product. That's where the next point comes in.

  3. Multi-use and multi-impact. Every single product has levels. You can go for the easy no-makeup look using the exact same products you would use for a very extra night out. There might be clean brands that you can do this with, but Fenty showed us how.

  4. Pigment payoff. One of our biggest drawbacks we have experienced with clean makeup brands is the pigment payoff. Since we have discovered a few clean beauty brands who do this remarkably well, we know it is possible. This goes back to the first point. People will not participate if the products do not work for them. Low pigment products basically say, sorry this is not for you. One natural brand that does pigment exceptionally well is Rituel de Fille.

  5. Engage. If you scroll through Fenty Beauty's Instagram feed and stories you will see that there is a considerable amount of user generated content. They praise, celebrate and uplift the people who use their products, making everyone feel like a community of frankly, badasses.

While the natural beauty segment continues to outpace the overall growth of the beauty industry, its growth has slowed down over the last three years.[Nielson] The reality is, being natural is simply not enough. Today, beauty purchases are more emotional than ever. Customers want functional products they can connect with, that represent what they value, and that work for them.

Check out our Inside Beauty Section for more Industry specific posts catered to beauty entrepreneurs.


We are big on the data. Check out the links below for additional references on key segments driving the beauty industry.