Letter from the Editors: What is Progressive Beauty?

When we started Coup de Coiff in 2014, we were on a quest for a more progressive and inclusive beauty industry. We saw multiple makers from around the world creating products because they either did not have access where they live or the available products did not satisfy their beauty needs.

In a span of five years we’ve seen an explosion of Indie Beauty makers, albeit still limited across demographics, particularly in the United States. In addition to the expansion of indie beauty brands, the industry is becoming more and more aware of the need to create products for what they call an increasingly diverse demographic, but what is really just their realization that there is significant market and financial opportunity by expanding products to be inclusive of more ethnicities. In addition to expanding shade ranges, brands are expanding their marketing efforts to reflect more diversity in how beauty is represented. You can see this in beauty campaigns that reflect diverse ages, ethnicity, gender identities and even makeup application styles.

We have also visited Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa and noticed distinct differences in how this trend towards more progressive beauty translated. Globalization has made Korean Beauty a craze, took ingredients like tsubaki oil from Japan to new heights, and made ingestibles and foods like acai from South America all the craze. Interestingly this craze and influx was really specific to the U.S. market. When K-Beauty expanded in the US, one of the biggest criticisms was that the products really only satisfied a limited demographic. They did not know immediately how to speak to a more diverse customer base. In many ways, there has been less of a shift in beauty trends in more homogenous countries and cultures and a more apparent shift where there’s a more diverse audience.

Some brands have had to change how they communicate attributes because of the long history of negative associations with specific beauty standards, particularly in countries that were former European colonies. For instance, Korean beauty brands that were labeled as “whitening” updated their branding to “brightening” because of the negative perceptions associated with whitening skin care products in the US that do not exist as significantly in Asia.

These are only a few examples of the continual shifts brands and marketers are making as consumers demand to see themselves reflected in the products they choose to buy. This month we dive into the brands creating positive change, the questionable pursuits and obvious pandering by others and our take on how brands can be more genuine and progressive in their approach.

- Fawziyya & Kawthar