Women with pigmented skin rarely find their choice in cosmetics. Kruidvat now comes with over 40 shades of fond de tint. Dutch criminal lawyer Natacha Harlequin and influencer Angela Onuoha are rocking drugstores.
From makeup to skincare routine to hair products and perfumes. For billions of people, beauty is a fundamental part of how they feel and present themselves. Yet the beauty industry, which generated sales of more than 390 billion euros last year, according to consultants McKinsey, is still ignoring many customers.
Beauty influencer Angela Onuoha was obsessed with makeup as a teenager, but she couldn’t find products that suited her. “I remember the first time I went shopping for makeup with my girlfriends. There were over ten light shades available in the displays and only one dark one. ‘You’ll never find tinted skin,’ says Onuoha, who has a Nigerian father and Dutch mother. Can’t cover the full range of tones.
- Kruidvat is the first major retailer in Belgium and the Netherlands to significantly expand its range for foundations.
- All 45 shades of L’Oreal Paris and 39 shades of Maybelline are available in 43 stores, 10 of which are in Belgium. Next year it should be 100 stores.
- Dutch criminal lawyer Natacha Harlequin and influencer Angela Onuoha are rocking drugstores.
- According to inclusive communications and marketing expert Hanan Chalouki, the purchasing power of women of color is vastly underestimated.
A few years ago she came into contact with Dutch criminal lawyer and television personality Natacha Harlequin. During Corona she expressed her frustration on social media that she can no longer go abroad to get the right color foundation and how bad it was that it was not available anywhere in the Netherlands. I sent him a message as I had the same frustrations.’
The two women shook hands. Specifically, they wanted drugstores to display darker shades of foundation on their store shelves.
That wasn’t the case yet, according to Onuoha, is the chicken-and-egg explanation. “Drugstores choose how many shades they offer. They don’t buy a very wide range, because they don’t know if it will sell. I understand makeup has an expiration date. But never selling it Consumers do not find a way to reach the shops, they feel that they will not get their color anyway.
foundation for all
Onuoha and Harlequin succeed. Kruidvat is the first major retailer in Belgium and the Netherlands to significantly expand its color range. All 45 shades are from L’Oréal Paris, in 43 stores, including 10 in Belgium
And Maybelline has 39 shades available. We will expand to 100 stores in the coming year,’ says Jose Maes, Head of Communications at Crudewatt.
That success didn’t come easily. The two women contacted not only Krudvat, but also de Bijenkorf, Atos, and Douglas. For a long time there was silence at other drug stores. ‘In the end we were all invited to meet,’ says Onuoha, ‘but Krudwat was the only one who persevered.’
There is a lot of talk about diversity, but it often stops there.
However, beauty brands have been offering a wider range of shades for some time now. Five years ago the industry was shaken up by the arrival of pop star Rihanna’s hyper-inclusive brand Fenty Beauty. The first collection had a range of 40 shades and raised 100 million in the first month.
But those products did not reach the village medicine shop. ‘The entire collection is available online, but without a tester it is very difficult to sift through the screen to determine your exact colour,’ says Onuoha.
The fact that the crudeweight foundation is between 10 and 20 euros is a moot point for Onuha. ‘Of course you can go to major brands like Bobbi Brown, Givenchy or Dior, but that price range is not feasible for everyone.’
“When we first invited Angela in for a chat and tour of the store, she herself was shocked by how incompetent we had inadvertently been in some areas. And in how many areas can we still focus on diversity,’ says Mays.
‘After all, it’s much broader than the foundation,’ says Onuoha. Think ‘naked’ plasters or underwear. They should be available in different skin tones. Or boob tape, a type of tape that many women use under certain dresses and blouses to keep their breasts in place.’
That’s why Crudweight set up an Inclusion Council a year ago, which assesses a range of products on diversity. ‘We’ve recently done extensive research into sunscreen,’ says Mays. ‘We researched the whitening left behind by some creams, and now we’re featuring darker skinned people in our campaigns too. We have also adopted our own brand of sun cream.
It is much wider than the foundation.
Belgian inclusion strategist Hanan Chalouki has a seat on that council. She responds enthusiastically to the extensive collection of colors at Crudwatt. ‘I have quite pale skin, but like many people of Mediterranean descent I have olive undertones. Finding a suitable foundation isn’t easy, which is why I’ve often carried around a lot of orange in the past.’ (laughs)
“Diversity is talked about a lot, but it often stops there,” says Chalouki. ‘Companies forget that they have to invest in market research as well. As a result, the purchasing power of women of color is still grossly underestimated.’