3 Latinx Beauty Editors on What the Industry Can Do Better

When I was finally allowed to buy my own makeup instead of borrowing from (read: sneaking into) my mom’s cabinet, I went straight to the Walgreens makeup aisle. Even though I had wandered down the aisles before, I felt an alienating feeling overcome me now that I was there with the intention of buying beauty products, only to be faced with a sea of faces that looked nothing like mine. I realized I would and will never look like Kate Moss or an Emily DiDonato, no matter how much makeup I bought. I didn’t have pale skin, blue eyes, or those impressive cheekbones. The excitement of wearing makeup quickly turned into a desire to change my features to look like this idealized form of beauty. 

Even when Latinas like Eva Longoria and Jessica Alba eventually started to appear in beauty campaigns later on, they only represented a certain type of Latina and a very narrow beauty ideal. This “ideal woman” would be celebrated in the beauty industry and also in beauty pageants, which have long been an important part of our culture; many girls grow up and aspire to participate in or at least look like the women who are competing to be the “most beautiful woman in the world.”

Since September is Latinx Heritage Month, it’s got me thinking about how much the beauty industry has progressed with Latinx inclusivity since the day I got my first foundation around ten years ago. Because even though we are acknowledged as a group with valuable spending power, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to representation. With that in mind, I asked three Latinx beauty editors working in American publications about their experience in navigating the beauty sphere, from their experiences growing up and what would they change about the beauty industry to make it more inclusive for Latinxs. Keep scrolling to see what they think.

Thatiana Diaz, beauty writer, Refinery29

What was your approach to beauty growing up and how has it changed now?

“Growing up, my mom was pretty strict with skincare and makeup. First, she didn't want me to mess with my skin. As she would say, "No vayas inventando.” Then, she didn't want me to look older than I was with lots of makeup. When she finally did allow me to wear makeup, it was all about natural beauty. She'd always compliment me and tell me that I didn't need to cover anything up. That stayed with me. Now, I'm comfortable walking out of my house without foundation on, and my approach is really just accentuating my natural features versus covering everything up. I prioritize taking care of my skin so that my makeup can stay as minimal as I'd like it to. However, if I'm looking to get glam for a special event, I'm not afraid to swipe on some red lipstick or dust on a smokey eye."

Do you think Latinxs are being properly represented in the beauty industry?

“Latinxs are not being appropriately represented in the beauty industry. When you look at who represents us, it's the same long, straight brunette hair with light skin. There's this cookie-cutter mold that celebrates Euro-centric features. We don't have enough Afro-Latinx representation, and we need to see more dark skin tones and curly hair. We also need to see indigenous representation as well, and it should never be celebrated when there's just one in the room to fit a checkbox. We're more than that—especially as a community that has valuable spending power in this industry. Beauty brands need to understand that we are all different and we all look different — and that should be reflected in their campaigns and shade ranges. The only way to make the representation on the aisles and ads more inclusive is to have that representation in the board rooms and product development.” 

Aredenis Perez, beauty writer

What was your approach to beauty growing up and how has it changed now?

"I hardly ever wore makeup until I was 18, when I got my makeup professionally done for my senior prom. I then became obsessed and began playing around with eye shadows and foundation. Growing up, I thought beauty was only about painting your face, but as I got older, I became more interested in learning how to take good care of my skin. My mom has amazing skin and she has always been super simple with her skincare and I wanted to emulate her in a way. Turns out, I’m the complete opposite of her! I love trying out new products, applying masks, getting facials, using serums, all of it. I do enjoy the process of doing my makeup especially before a night out, but now I typically focus more on caring for my skin inside and out."

Do you think Latinxs are being properly represented in the beauty industry?

"Although there has been some improvement there’s still more work that needs to be done. Representation is crucial! First, I think it’s important for brands to remember that Latinas don’t all fit in one box—we all come in many different skin tones and hair textures. Beauty brands can start bringing inclusivity by creating products that benefit everyone from all different ethnicities. For example, I’m loving that more and more brands are bringing a larger scale of foundation shades so Latinxs can better find their match. Including diversity in their beauty campaigns is another critical way to bring inclusivity. When I was a teen, I remember seeing print ads and commercials for CoverGirl with former Miss Universe Amelia Vega who, like me, is Dominican. Seeing someone who looks like you and comes from the same place as you do matters so much and makes us really interested in what the brands are selling. The Latinx community is one of the largest communities to shop the beauty aisles—not showing us in campaigns is definitely a missed opportunity for brands."

Mariana Cornejo - Deputy Editor/Executive Beauty Director, Hola! USA

What was your approach to beauty growing up and how has it changed now?

“Even though there's this popular belief that all Latinas grow up surrounded by beauty routines and tips from our moms and grandmas, that wasn't the case for me at all. I really don't remember my mom having a specific routine or her teaching me anything about beauty besides the need to put on some SPF. I started getting excited about makeup and skincare much older, when I realized the positive impact it could have on women (and men). I worked as a beauty creative writer in Lima for a few years before moving to New York, and creating campaigns that empowered women inspired me so much. Now I firmly believe beauty can be a game-changer for anyone who's dealing with self-esteem issues and insecurities—it’s something that goes way beyond looking 'pretty'.

Do you think Latinxs are being properly represented in the beauty industry?

The Latinx community is a complex one, because it's very diverse within itself. And I'm not only talking about skin tones and hair textures, but culturally as well. Latinxs aren't being properly represented in the beauty industry because very few brands really understand how to reach us, and the importance to do so. We're all about authenticity, so brands could start there. Be more authentic in your messages, understand that we all come from different backgrounds and we are not a one-size-fits-all sort of audience. This is what we beauty editors do, too. We try to connect with our readers in a way that makes them feel included, understood. If we want to be successful, we have to make this community feel like they matter. And this is what being inclusive is about.”

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