Riley Rose is Making Inclusivity a Priority From the Start
Summer 2019 is around the corner, and that means new makeup, new shades and new places to shop! From black-owned makeup brands in stores to K-beauty for deeper skin, we are all for more inclusivity in the new year, staring with the expansion of Riley Rose.
Branded as a beauty store for Millennials and Gen Z, Riley Rose is a cross between Ulta and its parent company, Forever 21. Opening its first brick-and-mortar stores in late 2017, Riley Rose is home to makeup brands you know and love, brands you could previously only get online and brands you probably haven’t heard of yet. And they sell more than just makeup. From skincare and hair products, to home décor and little knick knacks, the store is pink, photogenic and making steps to be inclusive from the very beginning.
Upon entering Riley Rose, their makeup section is different than most other mainstream beauty retailers: it is full of indie brands. Lime Crime, Ace Beatuē and Sugarpill are all within steps of each other, and it is astonishing to see them all in one physical store. But there are two brands in particular that are quite refreshing to see on the shelves: black-owned makeup brands Beauty Bakerie and Coloured Raine.
Founded by African-American breast cancer survivor, Cashmere Nicole, Beauty Bakerie formulates makeup for a wide range of skin tones. Known for their baking-themed products, they have a Cake Mix demi-matte foundation and Cake Face concealer complete with coffee-inspired shade names like “What’s Frappenin’” and “Mug Life.” In the summer of 2018, their Flour Setting Powder once again made headlines when Huda Beauty’s usually desert-themed brand came out with the strangely similar Easy Bake setting powder.
Coloured Raine was founded by Loraine Dowdy in an effort to make bold makeup that includes pigmented shades for people of color. The brand values self-expression and diversity, making shockwaves in the beauty world with their Queen of Hearts eyeshadow palette and other colorful shadows worn by celebrities like Cardi B.
Although other stores like Ulta and Target have brought black-owned brands under their roof in recent years, the fact that Riley Rose has chosen to include them from the very beginning is significant. It points to a new standard of beauty where consumers not only expect wider shade ranges from individual makeup brands, but from retailers too. While not always consistent, Riley Rose has made an effort to include people of color on their Instagram.
The retailer has also collaborated with beauty YouTubers of various subscriber counts on makeup tutorials featured on their website. Through these, they have showcased people like Ohemaa Bonsu demonstrating one of Beauty Bakerie’s highlighter palettes. With 20k subscribers, Bonsu has built her channel on makeup for deep and rich skin tones (she herself is rich in complexion) and has a series called The Perfect Foundation where she tests out potential shade matches.
Still, one of the more surprising brands you will find in Riley Rose is not black-owned at all, but an L.A.-based K-beauty brand, The Crème Shop. Launching their first color products at the end of 2018, The Crème Shop is a unicorn in the K-beauty trend that has swept the U.S. by storm. Though there is still much work to be done, their new luminous foundation comes in at least two rich shades and their BB cream comes in five shades - fair, light, medium, tan and deep. And their “deep” actually looks pretty deep! They also have a cushion bronzer they note is ideal for “medium, deep and dark skin tones.”
As we round up the last year of the decade, it is awesome to see a new retailer like Riley Rose carry black owned indie brands and relatively inclusive K-beauty brands. Cheers to this becoming the new standard rather than the exception to the rule.