- Although gender-neutral beauty terms have been popular in the past, data suggests that folks are moving towards more specific gender-inclusive beauty terms.
- Engagements with content mentioning non-binary, transgender, and gender-fluid beauty terms have increased by over 50%.
- While representation is still scarce, there are some indie brands that have been founded on a principle of inclusion (often by members of the LGBTQIA+ community). These brands live their values, often starting with employee representation and an emphasis on diversity within company culture.
For years, beauty brands have marketed products to specific genders with clear stereotypes in mind. You’ve seen it in the local drugstore – the soft, pastel packaging with flowery imagery versus the dark, simple packaging with bold titles. The colors, imagery, and messaging have all contributed to a larger narrative that an individual’s gender defines what is the “correct” product to buy.
Research shows that the basic elements of an effective skin-care plan remains the same for men and women’s skin which begs the question – have gender-specific products always been a marketing ploy?
The neutral approach
With more than one third of Gen Zers saying they personally know someone who identifies with gender-neutral pronouns, it seems clear that these gender-specific marketing tactics are not only monetarily inequitable, but outdated and non-inclusive.
Similarly, our data shows a 35% increase in gender-neutral beauty posts as well as a 24% increase in the number of influencers talking about gender-neutral beauty (comparing June 2019 – June 2020 to June 2020 – June 2021).
As awareness about gender-neutral folks has grown, some brands have made an effort to remove gender-specific labels and marketing from their products. Recently, P&G launched an ungendered skincare line Good Skin MD while other brands, like CeraVe, have never specifically targeted gender.
New wave of gender-inclusive beauty
Our data also found that engagement with gender-neutral terms fell by 9%, suggesting that the focus on this topic has wavered or become more complex. On the other hand, we found that engagements with content mentioning non-binary beauty, transgender beauty, and gender-fluid beauty have increased by over 50%. Is this evidence that the conversations have shifted away from gender-neutral and towards gender-inclusive beauty?
In the beauty industry, indie brands have been known to be the trendsetters. In the past, indie brands have answered consumer desires for things like clean/sustainable beauty, CBD beauty, and sexual wellness – eventually making the trend so popular that bigger brands take note.
Now we’re seeing numerous indie brands emerge that have inclusive values and strong roots in the LGBTQIA+ space. These brands don’t just claim inclusivity – they show their values through their products and how they give back to the LGBTQIA+ community.
We Are Fluide– Non-Binary Beauty
- Founded on the principles of amplfiying the voices of queer and gender expansive identities, We Are Fluide creates products with the intention of providing opportunities for individuals to express themselves on their own terms. With several products named after queer parties and safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community, the brand advocates for the individual to define how to use the product.
Jecca Blac – Transgender Beauty
- Before starting Jecca Blac, founder, Jessica Blacker offered makeup classes for trans women to experiment with makeup in a safe, judgement-free space. After seeing the shortcomings of the beauty industry not considering trans women, she decided to create her own brand that revolutionized the industry by creating innovative products that caters to trans women’s needs. A portion of Jecca Blac’s profits is donated to an organization called Mermaids which works to raise awareness about gender identity in children and young adults.
Boy Smells – Gender Fluid Beauty
- Like makeup and skincare, historically fragrances produced scents specifically for “women” and “men.” Today, there are various genderless or unisex fragrances out on the market, but Boy Smells takes a different approach by deeming their scents “genderful” by embracing “masculine and feminine simultaneously.” The brand has created a Pride Collection of candles with 10% of the process going to the Trevor Project. A minimum donation of $100,000 will be donated to the organization.
Here is a list of intersectional organizations that support the LGBTQIA+ community in various ways — they could all use your donations.
Translating culture to community
A community is united by a strong sense of belonging or culture. The culture of a brand often starts at the top with its founders and executive team, and then trickles down through the company. In the best scenarios there is diverse representation at all levels of the company, with inclusivity as one of the cornerstone values.
Examples of two successful beauty brands with founders leading the way:
- Founder, Gloria Noto, created Noto Botanics with the goal to provide gender-fluid products for everyone to use and share stories from identities that have, in the past, not been celebrated.
- As the first trans-owned beauty brand, Dragun Beauty empowers beauty lovers to express their inner self as they “journey along the road to self-discovery.” Founder Nikita Dragun created the brand for trans people and helping people transform through the power of makeup.
While audiences are gravitating towards brands with a strong sense of purpose, they are also holding businesses accountable to their mission statements. There is no room for performative purposes, so as brands delve deeper into the cultures they seek to align with, it becomes increasingly important for the brand to live its values.
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