Is the beauty industry too exclusive?

Emily Davison

Online blogger Emily Davison discusses whether the beauty industry is inclusive enough in today’s world. 

The beauty industry has come a long way in embracing diversity even since I began my blogging journey. But, there is certainly room for improvement.

Emily holding a makeup pallete while applying eyeshadow

When it comes to the beauty industry we are often hit with the word ‘exclusive’ at every opportunity. Whether it’s through marketing emails, store events or even in conversation.

We are often told that a product is exclusive to a particular store. Or even that we ‘loyal customers’ have exclusive access to a product on or before it’s launch date. 

But that’s just the thing, is the beauty industry more ‘exclusive’ than we actually think? 

How can beauty brands be more accessible?

I’m a beauty and style blogger of seven years and I also live with a disability. I have a severe visual impairment due to a congenital condition called Septo Optic Dysplasia. The condition impacts my ability to see. Recently I asked my disabled followers on Twitter what changes beauty brands could make to improve accessibility. 

I received a staggering number of responses.

I won’t deny the industry is improving and becoming more inclusive of disability. Companies often work with disabled influencers on their social media platforms. There are also more disabled models used in brand campaigns. But the beauty industry still has a way to go to meet the needs of customers with disabilities. 

Descriptions and captions

There are simple things that companies can do to improve accessibility. For example, more time should be spent on social media to add image descriptions and captions videos. Companies should also use more hyperlinks and cut down on inaccessible GIF’s. 

As well as online, ease of use and access should be considered more in product design. A lot of responses from my Twitter post talked about making ergonomic grips for products like brushes, mascaras and eyeliners. This can be really useful for people with mobility disabilities.

Some suggested making products more durable so that they wouldn’t break if dropped. Others mentioned developing ways to help those with visual and print disabilities distinguish products more easily.

Adding braille to packaging was a popular recommendation. Some brands currently add braille to their products. Bigger font and stronger colour contrast were also strong contenders. Others suggested adding a QR code to products to allow people to scan it to access a link to the product. 

Not just about the products

Website accessibility is also a key aspect to consider. From my research on a Twitter poll, 80% of disabled people voted that they would opt to shop online rather than in store. 

It's smart business for beauty companies to ensure their websites are accessible and user friendly. A lot of my followers answered that websites are simply not accessible for a number of reasons.

They may not be compatible with screen readers. They can also be too confusing with too many pop-ups and over stimulating videos and images on screen. Some with visual impairments also felt that there needs to be more shade description on products to make it easier to purchase without sight.

Less exclusivity, more inclusivity

In the end, the overriding consensus was that companies need to think about how they both make their products and how they sell them to their disabled customers. 

The beauty industry has come a long way in embracing diversity even since I began my blogging journey. But, there is certainly room for improvement. The beauty world needs to be less about ‘exclusivity’ and more about inclusivity. 

Check out Emily's blog

You can read more about Emily's thoughts on accessible beauty by visiting her blog, Fashioneyesta.

Read Emily's blog