It’s quite evident that beauty industry professionals often demonstrate a deeper understanding of fair skin and straight hair than they do of darker skin tones and textured hair. This unfortunate reality remains a prevalent issue.
Many beauty schools still have curriculums that aren’t designed to teach students how to cater to all races, which is truly surprising and disheartening considering our diverse world.
It’s not uncommon to hear from white beauty professionals that they lack the knowledge or expertise to effectively work with Black complexions or hair. What they may not fully grasp is that such statements, whether intentional or not, can be seen as reflections of a larger societal issue.
An interview with Coree Moreno, Cynthia Erivo’s hair stylist, published by CBS, shed light on this.
He observed that white artists and stylists spend more time on white models .Yet, when it’s a person of color, the process can sometimes feel hurried, or their unique needs might be overlooked.
That treatment “chips away at your sense of self,” he said.
Countless models, actors, and actresses, including famous artists, have shared their anxiety and unease while sitting in the makeup chair. Their grievances range from being forced to do their own makeup and hair, to hearing their textured hair described as “difficult” or terms like “nappy.” Not to mention having to carry their own foundation because beauty professionals often lack the correct shade for their dark skin.
Consider these real-life incidents:
The late Cicely Tyson revealed to the Hollywood Reporter in 2020 that at the onset of her career, her makeup often appeared “gray.” This was because makeup artists lacked the knowledge or skill to correctly match her skin tone.
KJ Smith, before she landed her regular series, Tyler Perry’s Sistas, received instructions to simply arrive with washed hair for a commercial shoot a few years back. The instruction blatantly disregarded the special care and styling that her hair type required.
Malcolm Barrett highlighted the inadequate situation in Hollywood regarding Black hair stylists. He commented that several Black actors often resorted to getting their hair styled privately before arriving on set for a film or TV show. The reason? On-set hairstylists who claimed to be a one-size-fits-all solution often excluded the needs of Black individuals.
Despite the persistent challenge, many brand production teams still hire beauty professionals who aren’t necessarily experts in dealing with darker skin tones and textured hair. Additionally, budgets often don’t accommodate for those clients who need beauty professionals possessing the skills to cater to such specific needs.
A significant shortage of beauty professionals skilled in working with darker skin tones and textured hair remains. This is confirmed by experiences such as that of Laci Mosley, an actress from Pop TV’s Florida Girls. She recently shared her struggle on Twitter, stating, “I’m a dark skin actress in Hollywood and like 3 union makeup artist[s] know how to do my makeup and they’re all busy as hell.”
However, imagine the potential shift if brands started hiring professionals adept at handling darker skin and textured hair. The benefits could be manifold.
- Improved productivity and work quality might be the most immediate effects. If clients didn’t have to worry about their hair and makeup, didn’t have to arrive at work early to do it themselves, or didn’t have to stress about whether their appearance was handled appropriately, they could concentrate better on their actual work, leading to improved performances.
- Time and money would also be saved. By hiring the right professionals the first time, the need for re-dos and additional touch-ups would decrease. The post production editing around hair and makeup would reduce.This would result in a smoother, more efficient process, allowing more focus on creating the final product—be it a film, commercial, or photo shoot. This not only saves time but also reduces the overall cost associated with production.
- Increased Diversity and Inclusion: When beauty professionals can effectively cater to all types of skin and hair, it sends a clear message that everyone is valued and respected. This can foster a more inclusive and diverse environment, which is beneficial not just on set, but for the wider industry as a whole.
- Better Representation: It can lead to more accurate and positive representation of diverse cultures in the media. By showcasing people of color looking their best, it challenges stereotypes and can encourage greater acceptance and appreciation of diverse beauty.
- Reduced Stress for Talent: It can significantly reduce stress for actors and models of color. Knowing that they are in capable hands and that they will look their best can enhance their confidence, leading to better performances.
- Enhanced Reputation: Brands that invest in inclusive beauty teams can also enhance their reputation and appeal to a broader audience. Demonstrating this commitment to diversity and inclusion can resonate with customers and talent alike, potentially leading to a more loyal following and attracting more diverse talent in the future.
- Encouragement for Beauty Schools: Increasing the demand for these specialized skills can encourage more beauty schools to broaden their curriculum to include training for all skin tones and hair textures, fostering a more inclusive future for the beauty industry.
Understanding and catering to darker skin tones and textured hair remains a challenge, but one with a potential silver lining. The opportunity lies in hiring skilled professionals who can competently work with all skin types and hair textures.
This approach not only enhances the experiences of individuals who have often felt overlooked but also paves the way for a more inclusive environment. The benefits are abundant, from increased productivity, cost savings, and more accurate representation, to fostering a sense of belonging, reducing stress for talent, and improving a brand’s reputation.
This shift could even spur beauty schools to adapt their curriculums to prepare future professionals for a more diverse clientele. Through fostering a culture of learning and inclusion, the beauty and entertainment industry can catalyze a positive transformation that reflects our diverse world, ultimately benefiting everyone involved.