In 2019, South African model Thando Hopa made history when she graced the cover of Vogue Portugal, making her the first model with Albinism to front a Vogue cover. Shaun Ross, the first-ever international male model with Albinism, has been a fixture in major runway shows and has starred in music videos for superstars including Beyoncé and Katy Perry.
The inherited genetic condition—which reduces melanin pigment in the skin, hair, and/or eyes—affects around one in 18,000 people in the United States. While the representation of people with Albinism has increased in media and fashion, beauty brands (except for Fenty Beauty, of course) have still largely failed to make products that meet the specific needs of people with Albinism. That’s why Jennifer Renée, a beauty influencer with Albinism, decided to launch her own line called Ivoree Beauty earlier this year.
Living With Albinism
As a child, Renée didn’t see herself represented in the media she consumed. When she read about Albinism in textbooks, it was often in reference to animals. “I struggled a lot to see Albinism as beautiful when I was a kid because of other people's negative reactions to it. It took until my mid-20s to accept myself and my skin,” she expressed.
Throughout her life, Renée has often had to debunk the myths and stereotypes people have about the condition due to the lack of widespread education about Albinism. “People have this stereotypical idea of what Albinism looks like based on what they see in Hollywood films. All the time, people will tell me I don’t have Albinism because I don’t have red eyes. I want people to know we can have a variety of eye colors and hair colors.”
How Ivoree Beauty Was Born
Renée recalls playing around with makeup in middle school, but she began to take her passion for beauty seriously when she was in college. “I’m a visual artist, and my mom purchased makeup artistry books for me when I got to college,” Renée said. “I also remember going to a party where someone was selling makeup, and I bought all this makeup and started experimenting with colors. That’s when I started to put art together with makeup, and it took off from there.”
Looking to discuss beauty with other people with Albinism, Renée launched a Facebook group called Albinism Beauty Chat. The conversations Renée had with members of the online community led her to create her beauty brand. Her first product? Lashes.
“I asked the members a few times about the products they had difficulty finding,” Renée said. “They asked about blonde lashes, and I told them I’d try to find out if I could get those made. I thought they were just going to be for that small group of people. But once I posted it on social media, it went viral, and I realized a of people were interested in them.”
When Renée launched the brand at the top of the year, popular entertainment platform The Shade Room made a post about her company that garnered over 10,000 comments and nearly 360K likes. The overwhelming response made Renee realize that people with Albinism weren’t the only ones interested in a more inclusive lash line. “I saw people with blonde or red hair preferred a lash that matched their hair, too,” Renée said.
The Lash Lineup
Currently, Ivoree Beauty’s lash lineup includes long, fluttery 3D Mink lashes in three colors: a white shade named Icee, a blonde shade named Blondee, and an auburn shade named Aubree. Each set costs $19 (although they are currently on sale for $15). For Renée, the most fulfilling part of creating her lash brand has been the customer response. “It’s been rewarding to hear how beautiful they feel when they put them on because I experienced that myself, too,” Renée said.
The Future of Ivoree Beauty
Renée has plans to expand her line of lashes to continue to address the lack of options available to people with Albinism. “I’m making Black lashes available this month,” Renée said. “We want to do brown lashes as well. Everyone else has the option to wear the colors they want to wear, and we want those same options as well.”
In addition to lashes, Ivoree Beauty will soon begin to offer more beauty essentials. “My customers want a whole makeup line. They want white and blonde mascara, so that’s something we’re working on. I have lip glosses coming, and I also want to do eyeshadows, foundation, and products with SPF because people with Albinism need sun protection,” Renée said.