Are Cosmetics Companies Finally Realizing That Black Women Are Beautiful?

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Janelle-MonaeBy: Stephanie Allen-Gobert

Being black and beautiful is a wonderful thing. It encompasses a broad range of different beauty tones and shades from Halle Berry to Lupita Nyong’o. And while millions have always admired the allure, beauty and elegance of black women, lately the billion dollar beauty industry has been taking note.

In the last week alone, Saldana and Kelly Rowland have both been tapped to be the new spokeswomen of iconic cosmetic and skincare brands: Saldana is the new face for L’Oreal while Rowland is the latest “fabulista” to join the skincare line Caress.

These women add to a growing roster to black, female celebrities who, over the years, have increasingly been asked by numerous beauty companies to be the leading advocate for their top-of-the-line products.

Yet, while Saldana and Rowland contribute to this ongoing progress, Essence magazine Beauty Editor Pamela Edwards argues that the rise of black woman representing beauty brands is nothing new.

Instead, she says it is a continuum of a trend that has long since been launched.

Halle Berry was perhaps one of the most notable black females to first sign with a major deal with a beauty company. Berry teamed up with Revlon after winning the Academy Award in 2001 and signed a lucrative contract that plastered her striking face throughout a series of print and TV ads alike.

Shortly after, Beyonce’ signed with L’Oreal in 2004- and the singer’s beauty is still being endorsed by the brand 10 years later.

“I think there’s been a constant trajectory- it has definitely increased since Halle Berry got her contract almost 15 years ago,” Edwards said. “But I almost feel like I’m seeing more black women on television and in movies- I feel like that is at an all-time high.”

It was once an untapped market- but it echoed a great message when minority supermodels gradually came to grace the leading visuals of brands like Lancôme and Estee-Lauder. Liya Kebede and Joan Smalls are just a few of the models who have made such headway.

“When Liya Kibede signed on with Estee Lauder [in 2003], I was very excited about that and that was before Joan Smalls got her contract,” Edwards said. “Those were big ‘wow’ moments.”

Once these doors were opened, a steady and growing number of black women have followed along the same path in recent years, including actresses Kerry Washington and Gabrielle Union, who are endorsed by Neutrogena and Queen Latifah, Janelle Mona’e and Rihanna by Cover Girl.

As beauties like Lupita arise, one thing is clear…America’s acceptance of various forms of beauty is changing. “It allows the public to see a broader definition of beauty, which is important to see,” Edwards adds. “They are letting the public know that they understand that all women of color use their products so that should make them appreciate what they’re offering. It’s just a win-win, I just don’t understand why people never got that before.”