Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Contoured, Highlighted And Bronzed: The Business Of Makeup

Rihanna's Fenty Beauty brand has been praised for its wide range of shades.
Rihanna's Fenty Beauty brand has been praised for its wide range of shades.

Okay haters, the makeup industry isn’t frivolous.

It’s worthy of our time. For one thing, Forbes values the makeup industry at $445 billion.

And not only that, it can be a coping mechanism.

Here’s what Jia Tolentino wrote in The New Yorker:

Over the summer, in one of many small, ridiculous attempts to affirm to myself that I will outlive the Trump Administration, I decided to incorporate both retinol and sunscreen into my daily skin-care routine. Both were recommended to me last year by a dermatologist. Retinol is an anti-aging ingredient, and I flinched, a little, fancying myself too young, at twenty-eight, for the Sisyphean hobby of trying to halt the effects of time on one’s body…When my skin feels good, I feel happy: my skin is a miraculous six-pound organ that keeps my blood and muscle from spilling all over the C train, and I’d like to treat it well.

Rihanna’s Fenty beauty brand was praised upon its launch last year for including 40 foundation shades.

From Elle:

It was an unprecedented launch — brands often do shade extensions later — and makeup lovers sang her praises for creating a truly inclusive makeup line that catered to all women, men (see: Daniel Kaluuya), deeper skin tones, albino skin, and anyone who identified any way in between. The much-deserved excitement and joy sent a clear message to the beauty industry: Do better.

What’s going on in the beauty industry? How has social media affected makeup consumers?

And will we ever get to the bottom of how to do a perfect liquid eyeliner cat eye?


Tiffany Gill, Associate professor of history and Africana studies, University of Delaware; author: Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry

Jordyn Holman, Reporter, Bloomberg

Ofunne Amaka, Founder, Cocoa Swatches

Arshia Moorjani, YouTuber and beauty blogger

Krystal Robertson, Makeup consumer

For more, visit

© 2018 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio.

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.