Fenty: What Rihanna Did Right / by Ruby Vishnuk

If you are in touch with pop culture, even in the slightest, you will be aware of the influence of Rihanna. And if you are in touch with the beauty industry, if only minutely—for example, having stepped into a Sephora within the last year—you will be aware of Fenty Beauty.

However, if you have been living under a rock since the summer I will give you a brief overview. Fenty Beauty is a cosmetics line created by Robyn Rihanna Fenty, professionally known as Rihanna. Rihanna is a singer turned actress turned designer and is now a beauty product creator. But Fenty Beauty is not your average celebrity cosmetics line. Rihanna has started an aesthetically pleasing, inclusive, innovative and easily accessible brand.

As soon as it was launched, the brand was immediately praised for its inclusivity. The Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation has 40 shades. Not only is this shade range incredible, but it is a frequent topic of conversation in the beauty community because it does what other brands have yet to—achieve true diversity. Rihanna and her team have done their research and delivered what people want and deserve. All people.

In a video created by Sephora, one of Fenty Beauty’s retailers, Rihanna stated, “Fenty Beauty was created for everyone: for women of all shades, personalities, attitudes, cultures, and races. I wanted everyone to feel included, that’s the real reason I made this line.”

Along with the foundation, the line includes Match Stix in a matte and a shimmer formula, providing a large range of contour, highlight and blush shades for all skin tones.

The initial launch of Fenty Beauty was predominantly skin based. Foundation, stick products, and of course the powder highlights. Of the powder highlights, there are six different compacts, four of which contain two shades. The two single pans are the lightest and darkest shades. The deepest shade, called Trophy Wife, has a unique gold hue made with deep skin tones in mind, a choice that the internet highly praised.

Trophy Wife was a standout product in the initial launch, and it is incredible to see a product specifically for deeper skin tones being in the limelight. This is not something that is occuring with other brands. A recent controversy in this realm of the beauty industry is the embarrassing release of Tarte’s highly anticipated Shape Tape Foundation. When the color  selection was first published it was so appalling that people thought it was a meme. Out of the 20 available shades, there are only four deeper shades. The brand has been roasted on social media and this launch has definitely had a negative effect on their reputation. They have also delayed the release of the foundation with rumours spreading that they are going to add more shades. However, adding more shades at this point is a little too late.

Another crucial inclusive element of the Fenty Beauty brand is their initial lip products. When the brand first launched, there were only two lip products, the Gloss Bomb in the shade Fenty Glow and the Stunna Lip Paint in the shade Uncensored, both of which were marketed as universal products that anyone could use.

The Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb, a shimmery glitter gloss uses the angular packaging that runs through the whole line. Uncensored Stunna Lip Paint is described by the brand as a “perfect universal red.” This is a bold statement to make and one that brands have made the mistake of declaring before, but something about Rihanna’s red allows it to work perfectly on every skin tone. It seems to have a typical blue undertone in the red but with a little something more. This red being the first, and initially the only shade of Stunna Lip Paint released, emphasises the importance of inclusivity as a pillar of this brand.

While the launch of Fenty Beauty on social media drew a lot of attention due to Rihanna’s name recognition, the social media upkeep since the launch has been very admirable and engaging. With Instagram ignoring their users' complaints, the current algorithm makes it very difficult for followers to see content organically. There are two outstanding ways that Fenty Beauty is trying to counter the algorithm and keep up their engagement. The first being reposts. Members of the beauty community and all makeup lovers definitely enjoy snapping a selfie of their favorite products on a good makeup day and tagging the products used has become customary. And with the potential of being reposted by the brand, the incentive is even higher than receiving likes from their own followers. The followers of an account as large as Fenty Beauty could be seeing an average Instagram user’s look. Fenty Beauty reposts customers makeup looks almost everyday, creating a strong relationship with their shoppers and brand lovers. The captions are written with care and attention, playing with humor. Little details like this can really set a brand apart from the others.

Another social media tactic Fenty Beauty has implemented is showing the products at work on their Instagram Stories. They take such care in showing each individual product and how it can be used on so many different skin tones and in unique ways, encouraging followers to purchase what they see.

A third great way that the brand has used social media is to tease new products. Rihanna would Instagram a selfie wearing a periwinkle lipstick tagging Fenty Beauty, implying that this is a new product to come. This builds excitement before the product has even been announced.

There is so much more to say about this modern and thriving brand but what’s most important is it’s inclusivity and innovation. Hopefully, Fenty Beauty will be the catalyst for existing brands to up their shade ranges to include everyone. Pop into Sephora, even if just for a look, to explore the Fenty Beauty world.

Art By: Eleanor Hilty