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Skin of Color in the United States

Daphne Kasriel-Alexander September 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
Euromonitor International logo

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The crowning of Arab-American Rima Fakih as Miss USA in mid-May 2010 has been a public affirmation of the shifting and broadening of beauty ideals in the United States. Fakih has become a poster girl for religious and ethnic diversity, and her success reflects the degree to which the United States’ melting pot ideal is now being superseded by a richer pattern of mosaic pluralism and the broadening of beauty ideals that comes with it.

Eva Mendes, another current U.S. beauty and style icon, declared in a recent interview with W magazine, “I have Cuban parents, but for me, I am the new American girl. It’s not only Drew Barrymore and the blond Midwestern girl. This [pointing to her face] is also what we look like now.”

Clearly, the ethnic tapestry of the U.S. population has had an impact on the country’s beauty ideal, and the landscape of beauty products and services currently available help U.S. women and men come closer to it.

The broadening beauty ideal

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Retail Tips: Skin of Color in the United States

The United States dwarfs other markets in terms of total expenditure on personal care. Euromonitor International data shows that total sales reached $194 billion in 2009. The need to be thrifty following the recent Great Recession does not seem to have forced U.S. consumers of color to compromise too much on their beauty regimens. A 2009 Essence magazine study indicates that African-American women spend billions of dollars per year on beauty products—more than 80% more money on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care products than the general market, but it notes that that African-American women are still largely under-represented by fashion and beauty brands.

Spas need to make themselves accessible to more frugal consumers, and savvy new spas combining less-expensive treatments and a touch of glamour are hitting a sweet spot between nice and price. Attractive local spa packages offer less hassle and expense, and also appeal to the current consumer desire to vacation nearer to home. Pampering seems to be taking a back seat to prevention.

To tap into the market of clients with skin of color, figure out how to offer these less expensive treatments and provide skin care lines that appeal to—and provide results for—the cultures frequenting your spa. Market the fact that your spa specializes in a particular skin of color and help provide a much-needed service and product outlet for an underserved clientele, resulting in big business for your spa.

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