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Beauty marketing in 2017 was all about inclusivity

Just as beauty publishers like Allure and Teen Vogue widened their scope this year to focus on inclusivity, so, too, did a number of beauty brands.

Once restricting their marketing messages to thin, young white women, traditional brands from Covergirl to Almay changed their tack, aligning themselves with faces across age, race and gender lines. New brands, including Fenty Beauty and Glossier, set a similarly inclusive tone. Everyone, it seems, is waking up to the reality that selling to more people results in more money, too.

But it wasn’t all trending in that direction. One area that still needs work? Size inclusivity.

Boy beauty ramps up, leads to the “genderless” fad
The “boy beauty” movement started gaining traction in 2016, when Covergirl selected 17-year-old YouTube star James Charles to front its “So Lashy” mascara campaign. Maybelline carried the trend into the new year when it chose Manny Gutierrez to star in its “Big Shot Mascara by Colossal” campaign. Known to his fans as @MannyMUA733, Gutierrez is an openly gay online influencer known for his beauty tutorials.

Kat Von D, already considered a more welcoming brand for its inclusive shade selection, jumped on the bandwagon in October, when it collaborated on a “guyliner” with Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong.

Manny Gutierrez

Other brands have decided to take the movement one step further by looking beyond gender.

In March, Milk Makeup worked with David Yi, the founder of the men’s beauty site “Very Good Light,” on a gender-fluid campaign called “Blur the Lines.” The resulting video featured models of varying genders and sexual identities reciting messages like: “Masculinity and femininity are the two forces that make up every individual human experience.”

MAC Cosmetics has also gotten involved, debuting genderless makeup lines with the likes of Caitlyn Jenner and Instagram-famous makeup artist Patrick Starr.

Anti-aging takes a backseat
In August, Allure’s editor-in-chief announced the magazine would no longer use the term “anti-aging,” in an effort to shake the negative connotations that surround getting older. While no beauty or skin-care brands have explicitly claimed to do the same, some are updating the way they label their age-fighting products. Kiehl’s, for instance, released a “Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream” this year.

Maye Musk for Covergirl

Beyond changing labels, however, beauty companies have continued to focus on expanding their youth-centric criteria for brand ambassadors. This year, L’Oréal sent two of its older faces, actresses Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren, down its makeup-first runway on the Champs-Élysées at the spring/summer 2018 shows in Paris. In addition, Covergirl, in the midst of a relaunch, selected 69-year-old model Maye Musk as one of its newest ambassadors.

The trend has been brewing for a while now. In the last few years, companies including Nars and Lancôme have called upon the likes of Charlotte Rampling and Isabella Rossellini, respectively, to star in campaigns.

Race barriers start to break down
It wasn’t just a wider age range that Covergirl chose to celebrate with its new campaign — it also selected more women of color as ambassadors than any other beauty brand this year. The actress Issa Rae and Food Network host Ayesha Curry (both African-American) also star in the brand’s new video and prints ads, as does Insta-famous Hispanic personal trainer Massy Arias.

Rihanna’s much-anticipated Fenty Beauty launch worked to fill a race-related void in the market, too: the lack of diverse product shades available to non-white consumers. Offering 40 different shades of foundation, the brand succeeded, even making it onto Time’s “Inventions of the Year” list. In the corresponding ad campaign, Fenty reinforced its message by featuring 15 models across races and body sizes, including Duckie Thot and Halima Aden.

Duckie Thot for Fenty Beauty

Sephora’s latest holiday campaign touched on this trend, as well, casting ten diverse store employees (both men and women) in a photoshoot lensed by the famed photographers Inez and Vinoodh.

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