Fenty Beauty Meets Ulta

Photo from Punch-us.com.

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 1, 2022 (updated Feb. 18)

Rihanna’s groundbreaking brand Fenty Beauty is coming to Ulta Beauty, a chain of beauty stores that carry cosmetics, fragrances, and bath and body products. According to Elle magazine, Ulta Beauty is one of the largest beauty retailers in the country. Fenty products will be available at over 1,300 locations starting March 6.

Rihanna announced the news on Instagram. “I created Fenty Beauty with a global vision in mind, and that vision transcends everything from our shade ranges and products to where and how people can shop the brand. I want everyone to truly be included and Ulta Beauty’s amazing community shares the same passion for beauty that I do,” Rihanna said in a press release about the news.

Rihanna was inspired to create Fenty Beauty after years of experimenting with the best in beauty and still seeing a void in the industry for products that performed across all skin types and tones. So Rihanna developed a new brand with French luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey. Starting with Fenty Beauty foundation, face primer (to smooth the way for better foundation application), and a “Gloss Bomb”, she launched a makeup line “so that people everywhere would be included”, creating formulas that work for all skin types and pinpointing universal shades. It launched with 40 (and later 50) different shades of foundation, 30 shades of makeup sticks, six highlighter shades, and lip gloss (per Buzzfeed News).

The music star launched her line on September 8, 2017 at Sephora in Times Square, and the products went on sale online in 150 countries early Friday morning, according to Fortune. They became available in Sephora stores across the U.S. later that day. (In the UK, Fenty launched in Harvey Nichols department stores.) Present at the launch of the brand in one Sephora location in New York, the Barbadian singer explained her approach:

“It was really important for me in every product, I was like, ‘There needs to be something for a dark skinned girl; there needs to be something for a really pale girl; there needs to be [something] for someone in between. And there are so many different shades, there’s red undertones, there’s green undertones, there’s blue undertones, there’s pink undertones, there’s yellow… You want people to appreciate the product and not feel like, ‘Aw, that’s cute, but it only looks good on her.’”

“Fenty Beauty is for everyone,” she told The Times of London two days after the launch. “All skin tones and races.”

Rihanna at the launch of Fenty Beauty in 2017. From The Independent.

Fenty Beauty drew praise for its wide range of shades and tones. Essence complimented its “modest price point ($10-$54) and wide range of color shades.” ThinkProgress noted: “Rihanna’s makeup line is, as advertised, really for everyone; not for darker-skinned women at the exclusion of her fairer fans or vice versa. And at $34 a pop, Fenty Beauty foundation lands in a price point sweet spot: More expensive than what you could grab at CVS, but far less costly than what you’d find at a luxury brand’s counter.” They added: “What’s noteworthy is that Rihanna has engineered an entire marketing campaign around the idea that her brand is inclusive.”

Cosmopolitan lauded the company in an article with the headline ‘Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty Is Exactly What Women Of Color Need — and Deserve — Right Now’. Writer Andrea Arteberry raved; ‘”I gasped when I saw the brand’s 40 foundation shades. A celebrity launching a cosmetics collection with that many shades?! It’s such a dope thing to see. Too many companies have launched foundation lines and waited to add shades for black women later on.This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.”

Cosmo declared: ”Fenty Beauty’s 40-shade launch right out the gate is a long-overdue approach that all cosmetic brands need to follow.” OkayAfrica added: “Black women finally have a brand that we can believe in because it was crafted with all of our uniquely beautiful tones in mind, but our love for Fenty runs much deeper than lipgloss and highlighter. The first look at Fenty Beauty was released only 7 days before the actual launch of the brand with a trailer highlighting women of all shades and ethnicities.

In the guerilla-style video, we see the Fenty girls fiercely navigating the streets of a busy urban city, all serving strikingly appealing looks. With their glossy lips accentuated, we eventually see the women holding what will come to be known as Gloss Bomb, one of the brand’s hero products. What’s so amazing about the simplicity of the video, though, is the fact that every single model is wearing the same lip gloss and it looks amazing on every shade of woman featured.

This is the guiding principle behind why I think Fenty Beauty has been so immensely successful. It’s an ode to every woman: I am perfection. You are perfection. We are perfection. Rihanna would later go on herself to say that she wanted to make beauty line that looks good on women of all skin tones, with all of her diverse friend groups in mind. She did just that. And it turns out that the well-crafted range of universally flattering offerings for is exactly what black women needed. Plus, girl power is a little easier to stan for when you’re actually included in the celebration.”

The celebration was widespread — and profitable. Fenty Beauty recorded $72 million in earned media value, which is the dollar value marketers give to word-of-mouth publicity. By this measure, Fenty Beauty beat out more established labels including NYX, Benefit, and Urban Decay. According to the Guardian, Fenty Beauty was Harvey Nichols’ biggest beauty launch ever; one bottle of foundation was sold every minute, and one lip gloss sold every three minutes. Forbes added that Fenty Beauty generated an estimated $570 million in revenue after only 15 months in business.

The success of Fenty Beauty — a spectacularly diverse makeup brand launched by a Black woman — broke new ground in the industry. It was a disruptive force that sparked important conversations about diversity and inclusion. Now, the brand is making waves in a whole new way.

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