The Feminist Beauty Project



BEAUTYElizabeth NichinComment

Here are my ten steps toward how we can build solidarity as makeup enthusiasts:

1. Acknowledge Our Differences

We are all different and hold different identities in the world. Our relationships with the beauty industry are varied and complex based upon our social identities. We must be accountable to our differences to build solidarity.

2. Honor Lived Experiences

Not all women are makeup lovers. Not all makeup lovers are women. It’s totally cool to wear a bold lip with nothing else on your face. It’s totally cool to rock a smoky eye and black lipstick and purple eyebrows. Makeup is highly personal, and we each have a unique experience with makeup. Let’s honor our varied experiences.

3. Call Out Racism in the Beauty Industry

Let’s not just talk about how the CEOs of major beauty companies (ahem, L’Oreal, Revlon, Estee Lauder, MAC) are all men. Let’s talk about how they’re all white men. Let’s stop talking about how hard it is for fair skinned customers to find a foundation light enough with the right undertone when customers with deep skin can’t even find a foundation. Let’s talk about how messed up skin whitening and skin bleaching is.

4. Call Out Imperialism in the Beauty Industry

Why do L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble own a majority of the cosmetic companies on the market? It reminds me of how a few large countries in the world (ahem, USA) exert power and domination over the remaining two-thirds of the world.

5. Break the Culture of Silence in the Beauty Industry

What’s the deal with all the secrecy? Never mind, I know the deal. It’s about “proprietary” information AKA this is capitalism and companies don’t want to share any information because…competition. Let’s break the culture of silence and demand answers. I want transparency. I want information. Write to your favorite cosmetic companies. Ask them questions. Demand answers. Be diligent.

6. Investigate Labor

Let’s talk about gendered labor and the feminization of labor within the beauty industry, and how this is impacted by race and nation status. Who is working cosmetic retail? Who is working in beauty, hair, and nail salons?

7. Nuance the (White) Natural/Organic Movement

Sometimes it’s expensive to “go organic.” Sometimes DIY cosmetics aren’t more sustainable or ethical than just purchasing a body scrub. “Cruelty Free” cares about animals (and that’s important). Yes, and what about people? Arguments for why companies shouldn’t use parabens or phthalates shouldn’t rely predominantly upon ableist fears of “abnormalities” or “defects.” Where is disability justice?

8. Interrogate Classism & Consumerism in the Beauty Industry

No, I can’t buy that $75 foundation. No, I can't haul hundreds of dollars worth of makeup every week. We all deserve access to affordable products, and we all deserve access to information about our products.

9. Beauty Industrial Complex

Let’s start using this to refer to the beauty industry. I saw this phrase used as a tag on Crunk Feminist Collective. It’s powerful.

10. Educate

Learn about controversies and scandals. Do a Google Search. Read ingredient labels. Write to companies. Talk with your friends. Ask questions. Share what you know.


If you see someone wearing an amazing lipstick, tell them it looks amazing! Ask them what it is. Bridge a connection.


In lipstick & solidarity,