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Ethnic Cosmetics Fit New Beauty Paradigm

By: Sara Mason
Posted: December 12, 2008

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Whereas new products and technologies are more often launching internationally and then catching on in the U.S., the inverse trend applies to the ethnic market.“Typically, ethnic women, particularly blacks, look to the U.S. for innovative beauty trends and product offerings to follow,” says Tina-Gaye Bernard, senior manager of marketing and sales development, Sue Devitt Beauty. “In this way, brands that penetrate the U.S. market will have a domino effect of beauty awareness, globally.”

Yet, it’s important to remember that within each ethnic group, there are fundamental cultural disparities, histories and origins, according to marketing consultant Fanny Fagot-Coste. So what appeals to ethnic Americans may not systematically appeal to ethnic Europeans across the board.

The New Ethnic Woman

While blacks have been the focus of ethnic marketing in the past, Hispanics are now the largest and fastest growing ethnic group, with a current population of 44 million in the U.S. This “new ethnic” demographic —light- to dark-skinned women of Asian, South Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean descent—brings economic value, because it is still underserved.

Thevi Cosmetics launched its line earlier this year, targeting just this demographic. Inspiration for the vibrant shades used in the line came from Thambirajah’s own life as a first generation American who grew up in a multiethnic culture, and who is now adapting those color traditions into everyday looks.

Lubna Khalid founded Real Cosmetics in 1999 with a similar premise: beauty without boundaries. Committed to empowerment through personal enhancement and diversity of beauty ideas, she enlisted the help of a makeup artist with a background in color theory to develop four true-color undertones, including red-brown, red-gold, olive and golden, ensuring makeup that complements every skin tone. Herself a Pakistani-American, Khalid was frustrated with cosmetics designed for women who did not fit neatly into typical categories of beauty and skin color.